Extreme Barn Makeover

 

 

including

 

 

Tales of Speedy, Brownie

and the #30 Nail

 

by Ron Liggett

 

 

 

STARRING

 

RON AND GALE

 

RED AND CECIL

MIKE

 

SUNNY AND DOLLY

 

SPEEDY

 

BROWNIE

 

#30 NAIL

 

and featuring

THE BARN

 

 

Author’s note:

All facts in this story can be disputed.

Just mail your written dispute to me along with $10.00.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early in life, I had no contact with the equine species except when I got my picture taken on a wooden pony at 4, and then as a seven year old, I took a short, rough, bucking ride on a family friend’s Shetland pony which ended when I was thrown into a pile of sheep dip.

 

The first real horseback ride I experienced was when I was 12 and my family took a trip to several places in the western United States one of which was Mesa Verde, Arizona. At Mesa, we took a horseback ride to a Native American cliff dwelling. It was the most exciting event of my young life. I think I was hooked on horses after that.

 

As a Marine, I was stationed at San Diego and took a horseback ride with a church group that had arranged for rentals for us. When the stable hands saw me mount on my own, they asked me to take one of the more spirited horses for the ride, and I did.

During those early rides, I realized that I had no instinctive fear of horses.

When I met Gale, one of the first things we did as a couple was ride horses. Gale was living in an old farmhouse on a 7 acre property that her dad Cecil owned. Behind the farmhouse, Cecil had built a barn and converted an old house into a shed for storing equipment.

Cecil keeps horses and mules and usually owns between ten and 15 animals at one time. He buys, sells, and trades horses and mules almost on a daily basis. He trains his young horses for riding and also trains and teams young mules for hauling and farming. He’s got all manner of deals going at all times when it comes to horses and mules.

Gale and I got married in 1986 and have ridden trails with Cecil on a regular basis over the past 20 years. Gale’s been around horses her entire life and is an excellent rider, but prior to this ownership she’d had no practical experience in horse care because Cecil took care of it all.

I’m a city born and raised rookie when it comes to horse care. I’ve ridden horses from time to time, and I have a knack for handling horses, but my practical knowledge of horse care is lacking.

 

Over the years, Father-in-Law Cecil has demonstrated his love for horses and has always been encouraging others in the family to take up the torch and run with it. Gale’s brother Louie was the first in the family to live the rural life. Louie farms the ancestral land of Gale’s family. Cecil owns a sizable property adjacent to Louie’s farm.

 

Gale and I had gotten to a place in our lives where we could have pretty much whatever we want. We both work hard and have kept ourselves in excellent financial standing.

 

For several years, we bought extravagant vacation packages to Vegas, Mexico, the Bahamas, and Costa Rica. It was during these respites that we began to discuss the possibility of obtaining our own property and keeping a couple of horses.

 

11/8/2004

Gale and I flew to western North Dakota for the funeral of my stepfather. The wonderfully desolate outback setting of Stark County North Dakota, with its rugged beauty, triggered a desire in Gale and me to seek a rural setting to spend the rest of our lives.

In early 2005, we determined to begin to search for a home where we could keep horses. We looked at nearly a hundred properties.

 

On March 5, 2006 we purchased a property 13 miles from the outer belt just off of a U.S. route.  The 5 acre tract had a modest 3 bedroom farmhouse, an unused barn, a shed large enough to garage a car, a small shed which was formerly a smokehouse, and a 4 acre fenced pasture.

 

The house was in good shape: well maintained with about a dozen substantial updates. The outbuildings were in disrepair.

The large shed next to the house is a sheet metal structure. Someone had painted the shed with latex house paint, but because of the metal’s expansion and contraction with the temperatures, the house paint won’t adhere to the surface of the metal. Oxidation from the metal’s surface discolors the white paint. What you end up with is kind of a dingy, peeling paint job that looks unkempt so the garage needs to be sided or replaced.

 

The old smokehouse next to the barn is in serious disrepair. The roofing is shriveling. Various animals have burrowed under the structure rendering it somewhat unstable. The smokehouse is probably the first building I will destroy.

 

The barn hadn’t been in use for at least 8 years. Obviously, the individual who appraised the property wasn’t impressed with the barn which was in critical disrepair. It’s a simple 20ft by 30ft wooden building. The shed had added space to the main Barn, but the shed was a pile of rubble.

 

 

In February, a hired inspector evaluated the house’s structure and systems, while the two people I asked to inspect the barn, Cecil and my good friend Mike, went over the barn and assured me that it was restorable. That fact assured me that this purchase of property was going to be sound.

Looking at the barn, I could see that it was going to take months to rehab the structure. The broken down loafing shed and leaning structure presented what seemed like an overwhelming task. The north wall of the barn had been destroyed under pressure from the broken shed and needed to be rebuilt entirely.

 

The shed attached to the back of the barn had collapsed under the pressure of a heavy snowfall and shifted the entire structure of the barn.

 

The interior of the barn had been shored up with a number of 4” x 4” posts, but many of them were simply leaning and added no support to the barn’s structure. The ground floor of the barn had the dank odor of neglect. There were a couple of makeshift stalls. The floor was littered with scraps of wood. A large wooden ladder had been left inside along with a couple of rusty 55gal drums and a pink lead rope. Most of the inner structure leaned.

 

 

 

 

The loft was dry except for the southwest corner where the roof had developed a leak through a hole that was about 1 ft. in diameter.

Around the hole, the roof boards had rotted from prolonged exposure to water. The floor boards were rotted under the leak as well. The west gable had lost some boards and left some gaping holes in the loft as well as the hole in the roof. Apparently birds had been able to sufficiently move enough of a board to give them access from the west gable.

When the barn shifted during the collapse of the shed, a large reinforcement beam that had been stretched across the loft had split the roof beam where it was attached on the south side and was simply dangling from the splinter. In the center of the loft, a structure made from ash blocks stacked about 3ft high supports a reinforcement pier that was placed to check the sag in the roof’s peak.

On the western half of the loft, fence and siding boards had been stowed in a large pile. Most of those boards would be used in the rehab of the barn.

Through March and into April, Gale and I worked relentlessly on the property—whipping the house into shape, unpacking things and getting our home in order.

In the mean time, Cecil had given Gale a large black 4 year old filly named Dolly, and I made a deal with him to buy a two year old bay filly that our granddaughter Kate had named Rose. Both are Tennessee Walking Horses.

 

Speedy

The only signs of life in the barn were a beer bottle, some old tools and a carcass of an opossum that we named Speedy because he looked like he was running.

Young Speedy would reign over the barn rehab for a few months.

 

Cecil came to the house just days after we’d moved in, looked at the 4 acre pasture behind our broken down barn and said, “I’ve got to get those two horses off my pasture,” meaning Gale’s horse Dolly and the bay that I’d renamed Sunburst Rose.

 

I said that I might be able to get things together by late June or July because there was so much to do, but he repeated, “I have to get those two horses off my pasture.”

4/10/06

Day after my mother’s funeral, I took my axe and leveled the broken loafing shed. I chopped the shed into small pieces, pried everything apart knocking every piece of the shed to the ground in less than two hours.

Thus I began the extreme barn makeover with axe in hand acting upon the catharsis of intensive manual labor.

I took my lawn tractor and pulled the satellite dish out of the rubble. I thought it might be aluminum, but Red recognized the old school dish to be made of galvanized steel, and it would serve as a pit of sorts where we burned the remains of the loafing shed and all of the unusable combustibles from the barn.

4/20/06

Cecil delivered a trailer load of rough cut lumber, some telephone posts that had been quartered and halved, and his Bobcat front loader. I unloaded the lumber and the Bobcat the next morning and set it in the barn.

5/01/06

 

Red and Cecil

The extreme barn makeover design team.

 

With all extreme makeover shows, there’s always a design team. The design team usually consists of some interior designers, architects, and specialty construction types. The design team’s job is to come up with nifty and innovative methods and materials to implement the particular skills they bring to the project.

 

Our design team is a couple of old muleskinners that had built and rehabbed dozens of barns. These two turned out to be a barn rehab dream team. Cecil and Red brought more than a century of practical experience to the project.

I can say without hesitation that I couldn’t have been nearly as motivated to accomplish this project if these two old timers hadn’t started me in the right direction. Cecil’s energy and focus helped to keep me on point throughout this project, and Red’s deep knowledge informed me of many important considerations to keep in mind.

Looking southwest from the door opening: Three of six posts Cecil and Red set the first day they undertook this task. Two posts in the very center of the ground floor had been set directly under the structure that supports the center of the roof. We decided to leave them because they were set tight and were so important to the reinforcement of the roof.

In all, we would set 8 additional posts in the first floor.

 

Using the Bobcat, a chain saw, a sledge, a digging bar, a spade, a big lever jack, a hank of sea grass string, a 20 oz. hammer, and a sack of #30 nails, Cecil and Red set 6 vertical posts -- actually cut telephone poles -- to support the north side and center of the barn. The south wall had already been propped up well with several posts before we got there.

Cecil returned the next day, and I got a lesson in how to fasten two massive wooden objects together so that there’s no possibility that they’ll separate.

 

Cecil and I put up 2x6 horizontal reinforcement beams on the center as well as the north and south walls that spanned the length of the barn to help support the loft, anchor the posts, and sure up the structure. All the new and old beams and posts are lashed together with #30 nails driven by Cecil’s 20oz. hammer. Cecil explained that the #30 common smooth nail is the only fastener he’d use to lash these big chunks of wood so that the original structure and the reinforcement become a single unit.

 

#30 nail, the fun fastener

 

As I watched Cecil drive those #30 nails along the length of the beams, it occurred to me that he was having far too much fun. In fact, I felt left out of all the fun he was having.  After he left, I noticed that he hadn’t taken the bag of #30 nails. That’s when the fun began for me. I mean, you have to really rare back and slam a #30 to move it through wood. You can give it all you have with the biggest framing hammer you can find. It’s a cleansing experience to drive a #30.

 

I can say without hesitation, if this barn project hadn’t taken place in my life, I would never have known the pure joy of driving a #30 through massive boards into even larger posts. The principle satisfaction is derived from the knowledge that only a natural disaster like a meteor would ever be able to separate what #30s had joined together.

The #30 nail would become the premier fastener of the project though we used hundreds of #20, #16, #12 and #8 nails, along with 2”, 3”, 4”and 5” exterior screws, the #30 nail remains as the most spiritually uplifting fastener I used to rehab my barn.

 

5/08/06

Red, Cecil and I fixed the fence in the pasture.

Another first for me was constructing field fence. The field was already fenced with 6” woven wire that is best suited to cattle though it’s not bad for horses. Most of the posts are “t-post” with only a few wooden posts to make sturdy braces, corners, and in general, stiffen the fence.

The simplest way to get the field ready was to use the same type of fence and top it with barbed wire. The fence was broken down in several places and needed to be repaired before we could put horses in the pasture.

When it comes to fence, Red is the acknowledged guru. He and Cecil stretched a 70 ft. section from the first brace on the east fence around a corner brace we’d constructed, to a brace we’d set 12ft. from the barn to support the entrance gate to the field.

I walked along the fence in the field making patches in the woven wire with coat hanger wire. Cecil came down another day and we stretched two long strands of barbed wire along the east fence which had the most homemade patches.

We began to use the satellite dish to burn off the largest pieces of the shed and unusable combustibles from the barn. The first burn pile in the satellite dish was transformed into a funeral pyre when we placed Speedy like a cherry on the very top, and then set it on fire sending the Speedster on his way Viking style.

 

5/13-14/06

I bought and installed 2 gates in the pasture: one at the entrance by the barn and the other in the opposite corner by our neighbors’ barn where a brace had been broken.

 

Brownie the blacksnake slept in the barn and left his skin

—all 56 inches of it.

 

 

I got my first look at Brownie the morning of May 28th when I heard a plastic bottle of blue ointment fall to the floor of the barn.

I saw the coils of a large blacksnake drop to the floor and disappear into the building materials. Over the summer, we found two of his skins. The first, found in May, was wedged between the old and new beams on the south wall. Brownie’s shed measured 47 inches. We found the second skin in July, and it was 56” which means that Brownie the blacksnake had become at least 4ft. 9inches long. This sign of growth in the resident reptile, meant that Brownie was indeed well fed which is a good thing because rodents are his principle diet.

Late in the day we burned most of what was left of the shed in the satellite dish. The fire carried deep into the early night and we watched it from the deck.

 

I finished repairing fence with Cecil on Saturday and strung barbed wire with Gale on Sunday making the field serviceable. Cecil brought two feeders that Red had made for us.

I’d decided by that time I would call my horse “Sunny.”

5/15/06

Cecil brought our horses. I said to Sunny when I unloaded her, “You’re home.”

I paid Cecil for Sunny.

So began the pressure for Gale and me to accommodate our beautiful horses.

A day wouldn’t pass for the next seven months that I didn’t do some type of construction on the barn. My growing affection for our horses kept my pace of construction steady.

5/29/06

Memorial Day weekend rookie mistake.

The flies were getting really bad on our horses. We’d only had charge of their care for two weeks. Eventually we put fly masks on them and supplemented fly treatment in their feed, but the day of this incident, I went to the TSC store and bought some spray repellent.

I was standing in the field swabbing fly repellent on Sunny beside the front fence, when Dolly backed up to Sunny and started to kick.

Then Sunny began to kick back.

I ran away from the fight into the pasture, but Sunny, I think, followed me and overtook me in the field. She sideswiped me and knocked me through the air—probably 15ft. I landed directly on my right shoulder which separated it.

Despite the injury, I continued to work on getting the barn ready so the horses could have refuge in bad weather. For the next two weeks, we picked up roofing, raked the ground behind the barn, searched for glass and nails on the ground and then burned everything.

I took down and disassembled the old stall separators made from 2 x 4s and particle board.

The ground was finally cleared and we were ready to allow the horses to enter the barn, but the barn wasn’t ready yet. I wasn’t sure what to do at that point.

 

The first week of June, after a violent thunderstorm, Gale called Cecil and voiced her concerns about our having to leave the horses in the field during thunder storms.

Cecil said it wouldn’t hurt them, but Gale insisted that he help us to get the barn ready.

 

Cecil showed up one evening and threw together a stall using some 2 x 4 and 2 x 6 planks along posts he had set from north to south 12ft. away from the west wall of the barn. The boards created a barrier that separated the west section (which would become Dolly’s stall) from the rest of the ground floor.

A 4ft door at the northwest corner served as an entrance, and a window had been cut out of the wall in the southwest corner. We felt that the stall Cecil had roughed together would serve as a spot where the horses could get out of the sun and elements if they so desired.

The floor of the stall was covered with old manure that buried several old items along with some rocks and sections of concrete.

The Sunny Pile

 

By sniffing and pawing the floor in the barn, Sunny uncovered an array of old farm tools and barn pieces under her temporary stall. Everything pictured here was discovered by Sunny at feeding times.

There were a lot of other items under the dirt floor that I found as well, but none as significant as what I first found under Dolly’s stall.

 

What happened in Dolly’s stall that day taught me to really think through the possible mishaps that could occur before we permit our horses to occupy any part of the barn or grounds.  We let them into the stall Cecil had built.

We sat in what would become Sunny’s stall to see how they’d react to the new surroundings after I moved the fence.

Upon their first entrance to the barn, Sunny and Dolly came into the stall, sniffed the floor, stomped, snorted, and stalked around the edges.

When Sunny stuck her head out of the window, Dolly turned around, backed up, and began to kick Sunny.

We’d never seen horses fight in a confined space.

The noises were terrifying, not only the screaming of a pinned Sunny, but snorting, grunting and banging of hooves against horse and barn amid the angry mist of dust that burst through the air during the fight.

Gale and I were astounded and frightened as the fight took place less than 5ft from us.

 

Sunny kicked and we heard Dolly grunt. Dolly kicked at Sunny a few more times and Sunny landed a couple more.

Since Dolly was closest to the door blocking Sunny’s way out, I took a board and swatted Dolly as I yelled. Dolly ran out of the door into the field with Sunny just behind.

I fenced them out of the stall again.

The horses returned from their run in the field and wanted to get back in the barn. They seemed upset that the fence was stopping them.

I spent the next weekend using a digging bar to turn the floor of that stall and see what was under it.

Before they fought, Sunny and Dolly had sniffed the floor and stomped on it. They became very agitated and got into that gawd awful fight.

Turns out, the concrete slab under the south half of the barn had broken into four large pieces and those slabs were teetering under the dirt floor, which freaked the horses, then the fight began. In the melee, a large post I thought was solid flew through the air twirling end over end and crashing into the ceiling beams before bouncing off of the floor.

The scene of that first fight between Dolly and Sunny was surreal in its intensity as the first fight in the barn. I would recall that violent incident and the display of power in all of my planning concerning the barn. Where some would use two fasteners, I used three. Where some would put two boards, I put three.

I used a lot of 2” 3” and 4” wood screws especially when I built temporary accommodation for the horses. When I no longer needed the temporary structure, I simply backed out the screws, stacked the boards and reused them in permanent installations.

 

I have no construction skills, and I lacked confidence at first, but I knew I had to move forward with the barn rehab. I believed that someone might help me, but as the days passed, I realized that Gale and I would be about the only available labor.

Cecil showed up at strategic moments and gave us direction and an idea of what materials to use. Gale was concentrating most of her effort on getting the house in order so it became clear that I was on my own for the most part.

The blossoming relationship that I was developing with Sunny and Dolly would serve as inspiration for me as I spent most of my spare time razing, and then building and repairing sections of the barn and the surrounding grounds.

Anyway, I wasn’t going to let the horses back in the barn until the stall was in better condition and free of all underfoot problems that I hadn’t realized were there until the horses had their tiff. I removed all of the broken concrete that was under the dirt floor, pulled out the biggest chunks of old manure, and back-filled the stall floor with untreated wood shavings for bedding.

Shavings were supplied by my new neighbor, Gary, who has a tree service.

The wood shavings sweetened the barn immediately. Gone was the dank unused odor we’d smelled when we first entered.

 

Using Cecil’s roughed in stall and another stall I put together with a couple of 10’ gates, we could separate Sunny and Dolly in the barn at feeding time, and leave the back stall open for them to use as a refuge from the elements while they remained in the pasture. Dolly took over as the alpha horse many times prohibiting Sunny from entering the barn.

6/20/06

Cecil, Gale and I put up 160 bales of hay stacking it mostly on the northern half of the loft. The hole in the roof hadn’t been repaired as yet so we stowed the hay away from the leak. It turned out to be a fairly dry summer so we lucked out because our hay stayed dry in the loft, and Cecil was able to bale a lot of hay.

Cecil’s schedule is very crowded. He likes it that way. In the third week of June, Cecil, along with our grandson Drew and nephew Nathan cut and loaded over 1000 bales of hay from two different fields. Cecil had originally cut out 150 bales as a portion of the hay crop for us to buy from him.

The day Cecil brought the hay to us, Gale and I frantically pushed lumber to the side to clear floor space in the loft. Previous to that, we spent very little time on the second floor of the barn. During this prep, I began to assess what would be needed to repair the loft.  The three of us loaded all of the hay into the loft from the trailer in about half an hour. Cecil drank a pop, turned his pickup/trailer around in the pasture and headed home leaving us with a loft full of sweet dry field grass to get us through the winter.

When we paid for the hay, Cecil insisted that we only pay Drew and Nathan for it.

July 8, 2006

Our former son-in-law piloted a small airplane from Hilton Head Island, S.C. to a resort in Suches, Ga. but was unable to successfully land the craft—crashing in a field just beyond the grass runway of the resort’s airport and killing all five onboard. Aboard that flight were our granddaughter Sidney and grandson Mark.

Sidney died at the scene. Mark lived for another 61 days in a burns hospital just 40 miles from our new home.

After my mother’s death, the additional loss from this tragedy would transform the barn makeover into a vessel by which I could convert my pain and mourning into a work of beauty—a sanctuary for my beautiful horses.

As Mark clung to life in the hospital, Gale and I visited him every day after work. Gale spent hours with Mark each day, but I could only stay for about an hour each day leaving to feed and water the horses. Mark was always in the best of care, and the winter wasn’t going to wait. Each day I came home from the hospital and after feeding and watering Sunny and Dolly, I began to put an even greater effort into the barn rehab.

 

The first thing I concentrated on was building a tack/feed room.

Cecil and Red had determined that the southeast corner of the ground floor was the best spot for the tack room. While sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, I spoke with Cecil about how I’d go about building the type of room we needed.

 

Using Cecil’s instructions, I constructed a frame of 2x4 boards and cut plywood for the floor. I have no construction skills, but I decided everything I did should add to the strength of the structure. I tried to do that every step of the way.

I walled in the room with some of the rough cut 1x6 boards Cecil gave us in the first load of lumber. Then I used a chain saw to cut out the doorway. Gale and I began to line Sunny’s stall with the oak fence boards that had been left in the loft.

 

I also began to rebuild the wall on the north side of the barn using 4x8 ft sheets of exterior paneling. During this project it became very clear that nothing was straight or plum on that side of the barn. Cecil had done the best he could to straighten the structure with his new construction, but it was still very crooked, so any conventional method of joining the new siding with the old would not apply.

 

There was quite a lot of rotted and broken wood remaining on the north wall even after Cecil and Red had used a chain saw to remove most of it when they first set posts inside the barn. I cut the rest off with a sawsall and butted the top edge of the paneling against what remained of the original wall. Cecil had suggested I use a “z” molding strip to join the siding but that side of the barn was so skewed in the shed mishap that I scrapped the idea after the original attempt and followed my nose on how to join the new siding with the remaining good part of the old siding.

 

What I wound up doing was using a 1x6” treated board to join the new and old siding. My lack of training and skill in carpentry probably permitted me to think this way, but I carried my design even farther using 1x4” treated boards to join the new paneling. I put a treated 2x12” along the bottom as a splash board. I don’t know how long it will last, but it looks good.

 

Each day that I came home from visiting Mark at the hospital, I did some construction in the barn or field. When I wasn’t inside the barn building the tack room or installing siding on the north wall, I began to set posts in order to construct a winter pen for Sunny and Dolly that I would need to take them off of the field and begin to feed them a hay staple.

 

In the midst of this, Mark passed away, and the administration of my mother’s estate began. The intensity of my labor on the barn increased as these realities set in.

 

Gale and I the day after Mark passed away.

 

As the shadows became longer and the days shorter, I knew I had to call for reinforcements. Gale was a tremendous help when she was available, but she was also cooking and cleaning while I worked on the barn. She’d help me when I needed a partner, but our skills were limited.

We found a roofer who agreed to patch the hole in the southwest corner for a reasonable price. He used some of the white painted 1x6” fence boards in the loft to replace the rotted boards and installed new roofing.  I don’t recall the roofer’s name, but Gale said he climbed to the peak of the roof, sat there, drank his morning coffee, and then knocked the job out in about 3 hours walking on the roof  like it was level ground.

 

He also reinforced the 2x4 roof beams that had been water damaged.   He did a fine, professional job, kept his schedule and gave us a 12 month warranty on his work.

Mike - I couldn't have done it without him

Then I called an old friend, Mike, who had helped Cecil inspect the barn in February. Mike was playing in my band and said he’d be happy to help. Mike has exquisite skills in carpentry and electrical wiring. His contribution to this project is exponential.

For most weekends in October and November, Mike and I spent 8 to12 hour days getting the barn ready for winter.

 

The first thing we did was install safe wiring and outlets in the tack room so I could bring power tools to the barn. A power line had already been strung from the house to the barn with a 220 volt 60 amp circuit. One 110volt circuit had been capped, but the other had been correctly strung from the exterior insulator to the ground floor were a small rusty box housed a fuse and a switch.

Mike tailored the connection with a junction box and strung wiring to the tack room where we installed two wall plugs and a light fixture.

11/11 & 12

Mike and I built a door frame in the center of the north wall and hung two doors that completed that wall. We also installed three caged lamps in the drive.

11/18-19

Mike and I set two posts, finished the windows, and lashed 2 x 6 and 2 x 12 beams on Dolly’s stall.

Mike and I set a post and built a stand for the water barrel between Sunny’s and Dolly’s stalls. The single chains have been replaced with two chains on either side after the horses decided “play” with the water barrel. In the coldest days of winter when the hose from the house was frozen, we hand carried water to the barn in a 6 gallon container sometimes making 5 or 6 trips per day. Obviously, we will have to run a water line from our house this coming year and install a hydrant in the barn.

11/20 -21 Gale and I finished boxing up the stalls and installing the fence on the pen. We also finished lining Sunny’s stall, and put up the gates.

 

 

Just before Thanksgiving, Cecil and Red installed a manger in each of the stalls using Red’s feed boxes in each manger.

 

12/9/06

I boxed up the east end using 2 x 4s and particle board. This is another temporary structure that I can disassemble in an hour, but the race was on to close the barn in some way to keep the horses under cover during severe winter weather. The pen was complete and I took the horses off of the pasture. We had prepared for the winter to the best of our ability.

Cecil has a pair of sliding barn doors that he’s going to give me, but they need resizing, and the logistics of conveying the doors was somewhat impractical.

Besides, I was exhausted.

My work to this point was a sprint to provide a dwelling for Sunny and Dolly during their first winter with us. I accomplished that with a lot of help.

 

As I finish writing this in March of 2007, I can say that the plan and the work that went into this first chapter of the barn’s rehab was money and sweat well spent. Cecil’s generous and timely contributions moved this project along much quicker.

Red kept me mindful of all that I should be considering in every aspect of construction on the barn.

Mike’s contributions to finishing the back doors, the windows, walling between the stalls, fixing the floor in the loft, and electrical installation also brought this project successfully to this point.

My loft was full of hay when I took the horses off of the field and now we have little more than a dozen bales left.

The extreme barn makeover has been a success. It was extreme, it was a barn, and it was a makeover.

The barn continues to be a work in progress. Sliding doors for the main entrance, cleaning and arranging the loft, running water to the barn, and adding outside lighting remain to be done. Mike boxed the west gable from the inside, but I still have to install siding on the outside.

Sunny’s kicked down a few boards, and Dolly’s removed the water barrel from its stand a couple of times so I’ve been forced to innovate throughout the winter to overcome the natural tendencies of the horses.

This project will continue into the future, but what happened this year will be the foundation for all that’s to follow.

 

 

The Lord moves in mysterious ways. The timing of this purchase of property and all that’s happened before and since can only lead me to believe that The Most High has enabled me to pull through this time in my life with some sanity intact. There is so much good to do despite the bad that takes place.

In the darkest moments of existence a light shines brightly for all of us. The choice is to descend into the throes of darkness or to step into the light. Though darkness engulfed me, this shining light of hope and purpose guided me through this most painful year of my life.

That light took shape in the form of a barn.

**excerpted from the book "A Sudden Ruralization" copyright April 2007 by Ron Liggett


 
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