Sunday, December 13, 2009

Truss time!

We haven't been able to work much thanks to busy schedules and the weather. Too many weekends have been too cold and too wet to get much done. This weekend, we spent Saturday getting our place ready for a Christmas party (which was much fun!), but we managed to get up after the party and get to work. Today was truss building day. That involved cutting a lot of lumber and then nailing the pieces into a triangular shape truss. By the end of the day, we have 24 trusses done.

After getting the trusses down, the next step is to get them on the roof. Hauling them up there is fun - we tried a pulley but had no good place to attach it. So Spencer finally just muscled them up there. He won't need to go to the gym for a few days now! We both climbed up there, hung on and got the first truss up. I don't like heights and the wind was blowing and I was sure I would fall to my death, never able to enjoy my lovely barn. I survived and Spencer survived. But a good wind gust knocked the truss over before Spencer could finish securing it. So we're going to wait until next weekend to try to get the trusses upright.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

There's nothing like help from the family!

My dad and his wife came down a few days ago to help with the barn. They arrived on Thursday and dad and I started working on Friday morning while Spencer was at work. We worked on the upper structure - getting in a lot of the boards that tie everything together. Once Spencer got home, he and dad and I kept working and by the end of the day had finished most of the structure that tied the uprights together.

We did discover one flaw - somehow Spencer and I had managed to put one of the 4x4s that's supposed to hold the stall gates/doors at 3 feet instead of 4 feet from. So we worked on digging the 4x4 up, removing all the concrete and resetting it. I seriously thought about just leaving it, but everyone pointed out it would look funny to have six stalls with 4 foot gates and one stall with a 3 foot gate. I knew they were right - but I didn't really want to hear it!

On Saturday, we put in more work on the upper structure. Dad and Spencer cut off the 4x4s and 6x6s to be even. And then they started installing the rafters. The barn will have a raise barn aisle. These rafters weren't hard to put in - but there are 48 of them so it took some time.

On Sunday, we worked just a little in the morning before dad and Cindy left to head back to KC and I had to head to Corpus Christi for a conference. Dad and Spencer got all the rafters up and even discussed how to make the trusses for the raised section of the roof. Spencer and I will have that fun later. For now, I'm happy with the weekend's work - a barn with rafters over the stalls!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy Halloween! It is a work day!

It may be Halloween, but it is also a work day here for the Williams. We had a lot of rain last week, and the bad news is that it caved in some of our holes. So Spencer had to use the manual pole hole digger to enlarge them. And we found out that some were not on the line - we're not sure how or why that happened. But he dug and fixed them. I couldn't really help as that's a one person job, so I cleaned the house and yard until he was ready.

Once he was ready, we had to work on pouring concrete into all the holes. That's another tough job. The bags of concrete are 80 lbs each and we would load the wheel barrel up with two bags. Then bring it over to the barn site, mix up the concrete. Spencer would get the post square and in the right spot and I would start shoveling in concrete. We wanted to make sure each post was on the line where it belonged and that each post was upright. Some of our holes had water in them, so we ended up mixing concrete right in the holes. Another hard day - but satisfying. I can actually see where the stalls and barn aisle will be now.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A lighter work day

We had a lighter day today. Spencer had to work in the morning so we didn't get started until a little before lunch. And then the time change means it gets dark earlier so we had to quit earlier. But we did make a start. Today we had to begin tying the boards together with 2 x 6s and 2 x 10s. This upper support structure keeps the poles all straight and also will allow a place to attach rafters.

There wasn't much excitement here - except a place or two where we realized we made small mistakes. But they're fixable!

This coming weekend my dad will be here. We'll finish the upper structure. And maybe even begin the rafters.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Heavy lifting

I thought yesterday was hard. Today made that look easy! We had 20 6 x 6s and 14 4 x 4s to get into the ground. The 4 x 4s weren't hard. Spencer and I could pick those up, carry them to the holes and plunk them down into them. The 6 x 6s were another matter. And it is probably best we don't have any video of that. Why, you ask? Because it was quite a little stunt to get them moved. Spencer made up a harness that wrapped around the posts. Then we both worn the harness and pulled the posts over to the holes. It is good we don't have neighbors who can see us - they would surely have thought we were insane.

The shorter 6 x 6s for the outside barn walls are about 14 feet long. For those, we both worked together and lifted them up and then they fell into the hole. Spencer did more of the lifting than I did - but I did my best!

The 6 x 6s that run down the barn aisle were another matter. Those things are about 20 feet long and they're HEAVY. We tried to lift one into the hole and almost killed ourselves. I knew I could pull better than I could hold up the pole or push, so Spencer ended up attaching our little harness to the pole. He pushed and I pulled (although I didn't wear the harness!) and we got the poles into the ground.

Every muscle in my body aches! I think a glass of wine is in order. And then maybe a soak in the jacuzzi tub that we never use... but thank goodness all the poles are in the ground! AND our corner poles are even cemented into the ground.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What a long day!

We got started on barn building today. We should have gotten started last week, but my mom died and we had to go to Kansas City. Some people told me to take a break and just hang out at home, but I wanted to get started on building the barn. I need to keep busy for a while, and this will certainly keep me busy.

The first step was to stake out where the barn would be. We had selected our site and cleared everything off of it weeks ago. We had done some rough staking out, but today we had to do a good job. So we started with the corner we knew we wanted and went from there. After the corners were square, we measured and staked out where each 6 x 6 support would go. There are 20 of those. Then we staked where the 4 x 4s would go. There are 14 of those.

Once we had the site staked with string lines, we put the post hole digger together. We don't have a tractor, so we rented a post hole digger that theoretically can be run by one person. We quickly learned that that was not so! Spencer could hold the digger and drill the holes, but it took both of us to pull it out of the hole. And we're digging in semi-wet clay, which made the job hard. We got our first three holes done without many problems. Then we got the digger stuck and really had to haul on it. We did a few more holes and then stuck the post-hole digger deep. We had to dig it out. What a pain. And apparently we didn't learn on that hole because we got it even more stuck the next time and had to take an hour to dig the auger out.

So we finally learned that we could dig a few feet, then needed to pull the auger out and remove all the clay. Then we could dig another foot or so and had to pull it out. We got it stuck a few more times, but it wasn't stuck deeply. But it was hard and heavy work and by the end of the day, we were exhausted. However, we dug all 34 holes. We took several breaks and about collapsed more than once. But we survived! Tomorrow we have to start putting the posts in the holes. That's going to be a hard chore with just the two of us.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The first load of lumber arrives

I'm in Kansas City this week visiting my mom, but Spencer just called to tell me that our first load of lumber finally arrived. He was heading home when the guy from McCoy's called to tell him he was almost at our house. They were supposed to call and set up a time to deliver the lumber, but McCoy's hasn't done anything right so far.

So now we have the 6 x 6s for supports, 4 x 4s for additional supports, and the 2 x 6s and 2 x 10s that will tie the boards in together up top. We also have about 70 bags of concrete. Spencer goes to get the post hole digger tomorrow and we start work on Saturday.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hurry up and wait

We had intended to actually have something done by now. But that wasn't to be.

Our upright supports for the barn are going to be 6 x 6s. No one in town had the length we needed, so we had to order lumber. The place in town that was least expensive would have taken 5-6 weeks to get the lumber, so we went with McCoys. They told us it would take one week. So we made the order, paid a lot of money, and were ready for the lumber to arrive so we could start on Sept. 26-27. But we heard nothing from McCoys. My DH called them, and they did not return his call. We were not happy.

So, we had no lumber that weekend and made plans to start Oct. 3. And he kept calling McCoy's. On Thursday they told him we wouldn't have lumber for another week. THen the manager called and said it would be delivered the following day. So we waited and waited on Friday. And finally we called to ask them where the heck they were. They told us they actually hadn't placed the order, so the lumber wouldn't get here for yet another week. At this point, I'm beyond disgusted with the service at McCoy's in Waco. Our barn building is now on hold until October 17 since we'll be gone this weekend.

Barn building is frustrating - and we haven't even started yet!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lumber ordered

We've burnt the burn pile that was in the middle of where the barn will go. We've ordered the lumber for the upright supports and the concrete to put them in the ground and we've ordered the lumber for the overhead supports and bracing. That should get here next week. now I need to find a post-hole digger to rent and next Sunday (the 27th), we'll start on building the barn.

This weekend, we're hoping it is dry enough to mow where the barn will be. Then we can use the stakes and string and measure everything out and get ready.

We've also decided to go with a metal roof, so we have to learn how to put that on and price our materials.

The barn is starting to feel like it actually might happen!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Our first set back and a decision to make

We had planned to order the lumber yesterday, have it delivered later this week and dig the holes for the support posts on Sunday. However, we found out yesterday that no one in town carries the 6 x 6s we need for the supports. One place told us they could order them, but it would take 4-6 weeks before they came in. I had a minor panic attack as I want to start this barn now before winter sets in. I know it'll take us a long time to build, but I don't want to wait another month to get started!

Luckily McCoy's came to the rescue. They'll order the 6 x 6s for us, and they'll be here next week. Their delivery charge is only $25, too, so they rock. Spencer is going tomorrow to order all the lumber for the upright supports and overhead support structure.

Now my chore is to find a place to rent a post-hole digger and we can start next weekend.

We also have a decision to make in the next few weeks. We had originally planned on putting on a shingle roof. We did that with the last barn and it looked fantastic. In fact, the barn and house matched and it was gorgeous. Looks and cost are advantages to shingles. And Spencer and I know how to do a shingled roof. However, metal is supposed to be much easier. We also won't have to haul plywood to the top of the roof to if we do a metal roof - and metal is lightweight so Spencer and I can wrangle it without help. Plus metal should go down more quickly. For shingles you have to put down plywood, then tar paper and then shingles. For metal, you have cross supports along the roof and then screw the metal down. And a metal roof should outlast both Spencer and I unless we have a tornado.

The downside to metal is that we've never done a metal roof before. So there's more room for error. We've got to decide pretty soon, and Spencer's going to talk to McCoy's this afternoon to see if they sell metal for roofs and price it out.

Barn building is an adventure!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Barn Building Adventures

Welcome to my new journal - Barn Building Adventures.

I'm starting this journal as my husband, Spencer, and I start out on a big adventure - building my new horse barn. We've got 10 acres, 5 horses of our own, and anywhere from 1-3 foster horses at a time. We just moved to this property in May and it needs a barn. The horses just went through their first real rain with no shelter - and they're not happy campers! They've threatened to call animal control if we don't get to work on a barn right this second. So we are!

We're not going into this adventure completely unprepared. When we were much poorer and much more desperate, we rebuilt a falling-apart mobile home so we would have someplace to live. We bought that thing for a whopping $50. Rebuilt it, lived in it, and then resold it for $3500. Not bad!

We've also built a 12 x 12 shed to house our well pump, water treatment system and assorted tools and the lawn mower. It wasn't perfect, but we learned a lot. AND that little shed was the only structure on the property that took minimal damage from Hurricane Ike. Our house was rendered unlivable for six months. Our barn disappeared. But the shed lost one piece of trim board, got a dent in one door knob, and lost about 5 shingles. So we were pretty proud of it.

And after Hurricane Ike stole my very first barn, a little pole barn that we made work, we built an awesome barn. My friend Julie designed that barn. Our contractor, Chop, and his guys and Julie did a lot of work on the barn. We put in a lot of sweat equity, but they did do a lot of the hard work. We won't have their help this time, and that's a bit intimidating!

We've designed the barn. It'll be a 32 x 48 foot barn with a raised center aisle. There will be seven 12 x 10 foot stalls and a 12 x 10 foot tack room (which may end up housing feed, too). We'll store hay in the 3 sided shed that currently houses our feed and two stalls. I'll bring a bale over each day in the wheel barrel. I hate having hay stored in the barn, so this will be good. The south side of the barn will have 4 1/2 foot stall walls and will then be open to the roof. The north side will be most enclosed as that's where most of the rain comes from. Each stall will have a gate/door that opens into the barn aisle and one that opens out behind the stall. We're going to give each stall its own paddock - 12 x 20-30 feet. They aren't big paddocks, but it'll be someplace we can confined the horses when we need to keep them off the pasture. It'll also make horse care easier for Spencer if I'm out of town - he can let everyone have access to their paddocks and just dump feed and water and not have to worry about turning horses out or bringing them in.

The only other things I can think of to add to this barn to make it my "dream barn" would be a wash rack with hot/cold water, automatic waters, rolling doors at both ends, and a feed room that's separate from the tack room. Otherwise, this barn design is perfect for me.

We've bought most of the tools we're going to need that we didn't already have - namely an air compressor and nail guns. And a few small things we needed to replace post-hurricane (level, square, etc). And we upgraded a few tools.

We've picked our site. We just had about 10 inches of rain and went back out to check the site. Next to the house, it is the driest place on the property. This means we won't have to build up the site much. Thank goodness!

We've got our lumber list worked out, and today we're going to place the order for lumber. That makes it all seem more real. Tonight, we're going out to burn the burn pile which lays right in the middle of the barn. Once it is down, we'll mow and stake out the area. That'll involve a lot of measuring, re-measuring and re-measuring again.

I'll post progress photos as I get them.