Finished the Siding!

I got most of the rest of the siding up on the barn addition yesterday in the blowing snow. Once I have determined the exact dimensions of my dutch doors at each end, I can frame them in and side above them.

Though it was about 20°F, it felt much colder due to the wind. I was wearing my jeans, long-sleeved t-shirt, turtleneck, two fleece sweaters, my lined coveralls, Jon’s big puffy down vest from high school, my barn jacket, two hats, plus wool socks, winter boots and gloves. I waddled to and fro. But I got her done.

The first board had a complicated top to cut. I knew I ought to be able to figure it out with measurements and math. But instead I cheated and climbed up a ladder on the ice to cut a paper pattern.


The truck tailgate was my workbench. I am going to ask for some clamps for Christmas. In the meantime I used a cinder block to hold each board steady on the icy surface for sawing.


When I had to rip a board to fit, I used two blocks.


My siding is shiplap, a rougher, 12″-wide version of this stock photo.

Cutting angles on shiplap is challenging for me because you have to remember which face (rough or smooth) goes out, whether the lap is over or under, and in which direction to cut the angle. Then there is the issue of damaged boards and working around knots or cracks.

Over the past five years I have come to realize that my spatial intelligence is very, very low. I goofed a couple of times as I was getting started. Luckily the roof slopes so I could re-cut and use those goofed boards further down the slope.

Over the course of the day I also realized, to my surprise and pleasure, that despite my lack of aptitude, my own slow cutting and nailing was more careful and accurate than that of the professional carpenter I’d hired to help me put up the siding on the main barn back in 2007. Back then I’d been the gofer who held the boards as he cut and nailed. Now I was doing it all, and since there was no rush, and no hourly wage, I could be as slow as I wanted to be. I could even walk back and stare at the wall to remind myself, “Lap in or lap out?”

It was almost dark by the time I ripped the last board. The back corner of the wall is slightly out of plumb so I knew I had to rip the board 1/8″ shorter at the top and 1/8″ longer at the bottom. Naturally, in marking the board for cutting on my tailgate, I accidentally flipped it. When I lifted the ripped board into place I found it was 1/4″ short at the bottom.

It was cold and dark was falling fast. I nailed the board up anyway. It would be fine, I told myself. In the immortal words of my elderly friend Allen:

We ain’t buildin’ a church.


Next weekend I hope to build the first of the three doors.

One Response to Finished the Siding!

  1. Jeri Gebelin says:

    I discovered your blog today. You are quite a woman! I am envious of your age and your opportunity to do what you’re doing. I am 73 yo and after many years of successful businesses have retired and become a shepherdess. My site is, but it is a long way from finished. It is the beginning of lambing here, I don’t have a specific time for breeding, just leave my ram with the girls. I raise lambs for meat. I know you are soft-hearted, I am too. But for some reason I don’t have a problem taking my lambs to the butcher. Maybe because I started helping my mom kill chickens when I was around 5 yo. I’m not sure psychologists could explain it (not sure I want them to), but I love my animals yet can eat them. I have this huge separation of thought between the time I have with them and the time they come back in packages. Please don’t think me heartless. I do love my sheep and taking the best care of them. I just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how much I’ve enjoyed reading about your life and that you are a great writer. How is your ram? I assume he is fertile after his mysterious illness?

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