No Place for Old Men

There are projects around here and then there are the PROJECTS.  The jobs that require a lot of planning and thinking and some hesitation to start because you know they are going to turn into something unexpected halfway through.

All of the buildings on the property seem to slide in an easterly direction toward the wetter area of the pasture, a slight decline in the topography of the area.  For years we just referred to it as “heading for the swamp”.  The building that houses our woodshop has been heading that way for a good number of years.  It has a dry stone foundation that has collapsed in some areas to the inside of the building leaving it to rest on corners with big, gaping holes looking underneath.

The plan was to do this project last year but time got away from us (and there was no small amount of trepidation at the thought of how much work this was going to be).  You have to do a lot of thinking when it comes to these things.  Bill and Mike made plans to begin yesterday and now we’re in deep.

The land here is nothing but stones (huge ones) and it’s a known fact going in that digging is going to be a problem.  These two guys attacked the under side of the foundation with shovels early on in the morning and quickly realized they were going to need a little help.  Up the road one of our neighbors is one of the best backhoe operators I have ever known.  In his 70’s now he is still working his magic with the famed piece of equipment.  A quick trip up the road brought him down to start digging, saving hours of back breaking work and he left with a dozen eggs.


With the corner dug out raising the building was the next thing on the agenda.  Blocking and jacks were put in place.


This is the sort of thing you need to ponder – think through all of the ramifications.  There was the possibility of an avalanche of stone with the raising of the building.


They raised it just enough to push the stone through and pull it out from the other side.


Back breaking work.


I am surprised at how smoothly this went.  Of course I wasn’t the one moving stone.


And the work for the day ended with pondering the next phase.  Making mental lists of the order of things.


A good portion of the sill will have to be replaced, there will be footings poured, some blocks brought in.  The stone foundation will be rebuilt. Blocking was put in later in the day to stabilize the corner where a hydraulic jack was used.  Materials were purchased and everything readied for Monday.

These old post and beam buildings are so amazingly strong.  Even if the jacking in the corner let go I doubt that it would have much of a consequence unless left over time.  The best part of seeing this unfold was going into the shop and immediately noticing the difference – things were straight, no more floor sagging to the northwest.  Ahhhh.

The other thing is watching New England men, of an older generation, thinking, pondering, discussing each step as they went along.  You don’t want to rush into any of this.  I think by doing so they also prevent injury – taking the pace slow, drinking lots of water, moving a little at a time.  Slow and steady.




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