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Friday, April 20, 2007

Spring cleaning

When I think of farming I think of fruit trees. So does Beloved, but much more of her thought includes a section called Animal Husbandry. We've been down to one chicken (a legally blind Banty hen) for some time, so I was not really surprised to come home, the other day, to find, on the freezer in the mudroom, a large carton with twelve cheeping Barred Rocks in it.

We can assume they'll grow like rockets, so that moves the long-forestalled Barn Projects to the front burner.

When we bought Stony Run, back in 1993, the place was even more run down than it is now, and Beloved wanted a barn but none came with the place. There was a stamping shed up at the other end, across the creek, right next to the neighbors' back yard, but that was too inconvenient to consider, so it slowly filled with all the trash from the place that couldn't be recycled in place or conveniently hauled to the county dump.

Much nearer to the house, and in a convenient location, there was a shed roof on posts and beams, in dreadful condition, which had contained much of the detritus that we moved up to the stamping shed. The neighbor had come to the fence to beg us to take it down, and we murmured something that might have sounded mollifying. But I had noticed that the beams in question were too massive to dismantle safely while working alone, and the more I looked at the mess the more I thought it could be made into the barn that was wanted.

A friend who works in landscaping after office hours connected me to the steady stream of fence boards that she was hauling away from various job sides. There were unbroken sash windows and sliding glass doors lying about the place. And I had a few squares of three-tab roofing asphalt left over from re-roofing the house.

So I did a remodel -- of sorts.

Beloved asked me the "style" of the result and I told her it was "Vernacular Architecture."

"A vernacular of one isn't vernacular," was her reply. "That's Idiosyncratic Architecture."

What-EV-er.

Two-thirds barn and one-third greenhouse-potting shed, the structure has met our needs over the last decade. Its very is that it never looked not saggy and so has forgiven us for those times -- which was nearly always -- that we deferred maintenance.

With new chickens a-growing in their box under a heat lamp, we went shopping for poultry netting and the like, and have been putzing about the barn in trousers and chore coats ever since.

When not working.

Weather permitting. It's been a very icy spring.

I've painted the barn -- our regulation colors are Red With Green Trim -- and made a few desultory repairs to the woodwork.

Among the things I got from my landscaper friend are heavy-duty iron t-posts that had all been pulled by a tractor, with the result that they are all bent out of shape.

These I've been straightening and repainting and hammering into the wet ground (something that could not be done -- by me, anyway -- in August). There will be a chicken run along the east and south sides of the barn, with netting all the way to the roofline (for raccoon prevention), and a sheep fence (replacing an older one that had seen better days), with a gate.

Once the netting is in place, I'll redo the leaky roof with 90-lb. roll roofing, then do the sheep fence. No sheep yet -- or ducks or geese. But I know the signs. They're probably already on their way.

risa b

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