Three weeks later.

Four months. It’s been a blur. Things are not back to normal, but then maybe they are if one were to decide that this is the new normal.

The big patch of muck/clay hides the majority of the debris. It took hours and hours, a ton of excavator work from the neighbor, and another ton by my son who borrowed another excavator from an old boss, to level and flatten it. There is still a lot of debris, a pile behind where I’m standing, and far up ahead an enormous patch of ‘shrapnel’, bits of glass, screws, nails – I could shovel until I’m an old woman and not pick it all up. There is yet to be a single day I don’t stop and kick something out of the ground and toss it into a pile, not a single day I’m not muttering unrepeatable things under my breath while doing so. It is literally endless.

Donated cube from a five ton truck (thank you to Bruce’s boss) This now houses all our tools/construction stuff.

It took some creative thinking to gather up some tools to build with. Pawn shops, discount stores, you decide what matters for quality and what doesn’t. A level is a level pretty much, a decent framing hammer costs. You can borrow a ladder etc. When you sit down and make a list of what you need, that you no longer have, you realize the enormity of the task ahead – and start paring down the list – because you know any sort of rebuild is going to be so far beyond the budget it’s not funny. Then you try and figure out what you’re going to build, where, how big/or small, with what, from where. The task seems impossible, neither Bruce nor I have the strength, energy, mindset to do this again. But of course we tackle it anyway – it’s the only thing to do.

Hydro poles augered six feet into the ground, and a patch of barn floor that oddly survived the fire because the rubber mats in the milking parlour kept it from burning.
Cable, chain blocks, some dunnage, a pick up truck to pull the poles into place.
Short one pole, a tree will do.

Many years ago we built a lean-to for our draft horses, much larger than this – with less – we couldn’t get a truck in play because the ground wasn’t frozen as it is here. We settled for two come-alongs, a lot of chain, two bumper jacks. It wasn’t as easy, but we had a different mindset. This time around, we get done what we can with the energy we have, and walk away with zero sense of accomplishment. This all feels like a lot of work, and a lot of more work to come.

A turning point, we can now work under cover

I’ve always called traditional construction ‘stick frame’. It’s simpler, everything is square (or should be). Building with rough cut lumber and poles – not so much. Nothing is square, poles aren’t square, every wall you put up is a custom wall, every custom wall weighs a ton, there’s no air nailing to be done – you simply swing the hammer until your arm is nearly numb from swinging…but it’s sturdy. This building will outlast us and however many cows go through it.

Wane boarding the walls

I call it wane board, though it probably has another name. When you run a tree through the sawmill, the first x cuts that come off as they work to a beam, get tossed aside. Some people build with it, some mills have piles of it laying about, some people pay a fortune for ‘live edge’ depending on the thickness and make countertops, tables, whatever. We use it for siding because it’s quick, aside from length there is no measuring or cutting to be done.

Exterior done, we will enclose the cube with wane as well, and it will be accessible from inside the building.
Storage above, salvaged old floor (narrow boards) surrounded by new floor.

Good people. Weeks ago, somebody said to me ‘you and Bruce are good people – you’ve always done for others with no expectation of anything in return, this will all work out’. It has. We are into this building for the cost of the tin roofing, a box each of four and six inch ardox, a box of deck screws. All in, under fifteen hundred dollars. Everything you see that went into the build, was donated by ‘good people’ and there are a lot of them. People who stopped by out of the blue to offer, donate. Without them this building would not exist, and a simple thank you seems not enough. On the flip side, we would do the same. It’s how it should work, and though we’re more comfortable giving instead of receiving, we are grateful beyond words.

Seventeen days, twelve hour days, gets you a barn and a very tired hubby (and a dog who’s eyeballing that beer) 🙂

The days march forward, between building days there’s get the garden in days, cut the grass days, canning days, firewood days, fencing days, and for Bruce – regular go to work days. We’ve surprised ourselves…despite the fatigue, the age, we’re managing. We’re not so far behind as we thought we would be. There’s more to do of course, but the barn was the big project – all else seems small tasks in comparison. Having the barn done makes it feel as though things are almost back to normal.

Will update again when I can 🙃

About valbjerke

Farmer, Transmission Rebuilder, Self Sufficiency Nut. Like the old school way of doing things. "Fast is fine - accuracy is final" (quote by some way back famous gun-slinger - likely just before he got shot dead)
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7 Responses to Update

  1. DM says:

    LOVE the update! Thank you Val. That picture of Bruce …like they say, A picture is worth a 1000 words.

  2. 247paulgray says:

    We really feel for you.
    I knew from the pictures of the aftermath the rebuild was going to be hard, but this on another level. Where you are getting the strength from makes you amazing.
    Our thoughts are with you and hope that things turn out good for you.

    • valbjerke says:

      Thank you! Definitely feeling more positive as we go along.

    • valbjerke says:

      I’m hoping you’re not smack in the middle of that heat wave over there…last summer we reached 44C in our province. Over 800 people died as a result of overwhelmed emergency services, and not being prepared. Take care.

      • 247paulgray says:

        Darn it, just found your message.
        Sorry for the late reply but things health wise (nothing to do with heat) have taken a dive for the worse. Which is why the blog has been put to sleep as I’ve got a full worry load going on.

        Meanwhile, we’re very glad the rebuild is moving on.

        If you would like to keep in touch via email, “We” are 247paulgray@gmail.com.
        Keep safe.
        Paul & Di

  3. steveknife says:

    So sorry you have had to go through this… I’ve been through much myself…
    I did post comments previous but WordPress dropped them I guess So happy to see you though on the way to recovery

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