Sunday, December 6, 2009

Installment #8: Lemons to Lemonade--The Barn is Finished

Vacation time used up, we were now forced to use Hubby's 34-hour breaks from truck driving to finish the barn.

The reason I call this "Lemons to Lemonade" is that we used the aluminum siding off the ruins of the housetrailer for the siding on our barn. So we'd strip off a little siding and nail it to the barn frame and then go back to the old trailer for some more.

Uh, about that rain! It was back! And this time so was the infamous Central Texas prairie winds--probably around 35 mph not counting the wind gusts. Hubby on the roof, I would push the pieces of sheet metal roofing up to him as best I could from the ground as he tried to hang onto it in the high winds long enough to haul it the rest of the way onto the roof. More than once we had to haul the same piece back up on the roof if the wind gusted and it took off again.

Then, provided if and when Hubby could get the sheet metal in place, I would attempt to hang onto one corner of it from a second ladder as Hubby kneeled on top of it and tried to nail part of it down to keep it in place. I also attempted to nail down my end whenever I didn't need both hands, elbows and body weight to keep it down in the wind.

More than once, my war cry was "I'm losing it!!!!" and Hubby would belly-flop on top of the sheet metal piece to keep the wind gust from carrying it off. If it hadn't been so serious, I think I would have fallen off my ladder laughing. You have to understand, Hubby was nicknamed "Q-tip" by some of the locals here because his body forms a long rail-thin connection between his white hair and his white tennis shoes he was famous for wearing in those days. So here was Hubby, all 120 pounds of him, belly-flopping on the sheet metal to keep it down. I had visions of him and it taking off across Limestone County like Aladdin and His Magic Carpet.

Luckily, his efforts worked and he stayed on the roof!

And then we worked in a mist of rain most of the time, just enough to make the sheet metal slick. Wonderful!

Well, we are both still here, so obviously we survived the high winds, and the slick, wet and flying sheet metal.

Thank goodness for small favors, finishing the three stalls inside was rather uneventful. The big barn allowed us to give our three horses 11x22' stalls and a 10-foot run-in the length of the barn in front. I found at my previous stable a big long stall is generally easier to clean than your average 10x10 or square stall. The horses tend to use the back part as a "potty pan". As long as the stalls are diligently cleaned daily, it's easier to clean up than poop that's been ground in under a horse that has no other place to get out of his own dung.

Anyway, barn complete! Horses happy! At least now on our treeless 16 acres, the horses had a place to get away from the hot sun and the bad weather. Uh...well...for now...

Stay tuned!

Installment #7: The Working Vacation

Vacation time!

Some vacation. We spent it working our butts off. Ever try to build a barn in five days?

OK, like I said, we already had one wall of the barn in our "Stubborn Storage Trailer" (see previous post). We would have a great deal of our barn siding by stripping the aluminum off the old ruined house trailer.

But we still had to build a frame. So that's what this week's project was to be, building a frame--for a 32'x36' structure. We rented a post hole digger, bought the lumber and bags of concrete to support the four x fours and we were off and running like we knew what we were doing.

Both my husband and I are under 5'4". My husband is 120 pounds soaking wet. I won't tell you my weight (wish it was 120!), but neither of us have the strength of an average adult generally much taller. The post hole digger was presented to us as being easy to operate by one person. Ha! There's that deceptive word "easy" again!
It was all the two of us could do to drag it from one location to the other let alone use it. Somehow, with aching backs, we managed.

And in Central Texas where it rarely rains, where rain is normally a blessing when it does occur, the rain came as a curse every day on us to keep us miserable and make the concrete mixing/drying slow and difficult.

Nevertheless we managed! The frame was built, but at an unbearable cost. We were sooooo tired, overworked and not thinking clearly. We had all our cherished pets with us, including my six parrots, more precious to me than any pets I've ever owned. Somehow, some tragic way, in the midst of the madness, I accidentally gave two of them bad food. We could not find a bird vet in time to treat them. We found one dead in the cage and the other died in my arms as I was trying to leave the property to race him to Waco. I never would have made it anyway. They are buried on the farm and I can't even approach that little patch of our farm without my eyes welling up. I lost my two very best friends ever that day. No exaggeration. They were precious beyond words and the best company anyone could ever ask for. They were pets I thought I'd never have to bury and thought would outlive me. Some of life's cruel ironies.

We had about $2,500 materials invested in the barn in materials at this point, but the cost in their precious lives, my guilt and sleepless nights, is immeasurable. I still wake up many nights in tears though it's been three years. I'm crying now as I write this. I will forever miss them.