Yesterday Allen and I spent another six hours working on the run-in shelter. The weather was unseasonably warm, in the 50s. A gorgeous day for working outside. We got a late start due to carpool issues (Jon’s usual ride was sick) but I remind myself that in last summer’s rains, six hours of work would have been a long day.
Allen buzzed off all the boards with my chainsaw. Because the frame is, as we realized yesterday, both racked and bowed, we decided not to obsess about precision or perfection. I know the shelter will be a blessing for the animals and as long as it isn’t too obviously odd-looking, I am almost as calm as Allen.
Though I do worry about Allen. At 71, being on his feet all day as a carpenter is hard on him. He doesn’t bend easily to pick up tools or lumber. Climbing ladders and in and out of my truck, which we use as a staging platform, is tiring. He’s short of breath. His right shoulder is wonky, making it difficult to raise that arm. He never complains, however, and without saying anything I stand so he can put a hand on my shoulder as he climbs up or down. We joke all the time. I often can reach the rafters just on tiptoes. He calls me “Long Legs” or “Giraffe” — “I figured I’d leave that one for Long Legs,” or “OK, Giraffe, you get on that end of the board!”
Meanwhile he is still much stronger than I am. When I would grow tired, driving heavy lag screws over my head, I’d sometimes feel Allen’s hand reach up to push my elbow or wrist, helping me drive it home. I figure between the two of us we make one pretty good able-bodied worker.
But luckily we’re not in a race. Allen is as tuned into animal life as I am. “Look at them hawks!” he’ll say suddenly, and we’ll both lower a board to watch a pair of redtails soar overhead. Or,”I bet them cows are missin’ the machine. They was always watchin’. It was their TV!”
As we had to do lots of cutting and fitting to create the front overhang, our progress yesterday was not rapid. Still, by the end of the day we had the overhang framed and the reinforcing row of stringers up.
The unseasonably warm weather is due to continue today. Allen points out that logically we should put up the roof nailers and start the roof before a storm blows in — as could happen at any minute — and we’re stuck struggling to do it at 15° in a blizzard.
However I have to take care of life at home for a day. I always have to remind myself that the farm is a hobby and that my family still deserves clean sheets, matched socks, wholesome meals, and to have someone tending the hearth.