A Good, Old-Fashioned Barn Raising

Who knew that my fencing tools would one day consist of a Baby Bjorn and a milk bottle?

Activity on the Acre has been picking up this past month now that we are experiencing longer days and warmer weather. The new chicks that arrived at the beginning of the month are growing larger and larger. We now have three flats of seedlings going through different stages of growth under the multi-spectrum grow lights – which reminds me, I’d better get a move on ordering the dirt for our main garden! I have started working Yak to get him used to being out and about again after losing his right eye this past fall. We have turkeys on the way, and we are seriously considering adding a Jersey cow and a couple of pigs to the mix….yes, things are certainly picking up. And yet this weekend, we set a whole new project into motion: The Barn. We’ve been working out plans for the barn over dinner and wine with a friend of ours who builds houses and does specialty carpentry work. However, something about the hot food in our bellies, the glowing fire in the woodstove, and the cloudy thoughts that come after a few glasses of wine led us to believe that spring was much farther away than it actually was. So here we find ourselves (again) elbow deep in things that need to happen now….like, right now, or we risk losing the most valuable season on the new Acre – our first one.

Barn Plans.

We have been kind of ho-humming along through our weekends, some work, some play, some lazing around – the perfect mix, if you ask me. This past week, I have been filling in for the head-baker at work, which means I rise at 4 am, sleepily thumb through my clothes, quietly pull them on in the still dark of early morning, quickly check on the baby chicks and water my seedlings, then drive off to make bagels, breads, and other various pastries from 5am-1pm before picking up the kids at 3pm and heading home. About mid-week we got a call from our excavator to say he was coming out to start digging holes for our posts this weekend, eeeeep! Holy shit, we have to rearrange some of the paddock fencing so he can dig all 20 holes we need for the barn….which means we need our movable cattle panels, which means we need to move the cow, which means we need to split the paddock in half and reinforce the fencing on one side…. And that’s how our spring started; in a wild whirlwind of hustle and bustle with a little splash of shut the hell up and get it done.

The weekend hasn’t been an entire wash. We met with the excavator, Billy, early in the morning to go over the what, where, and when for the barn excavation. We brought the kids outside to help; they were eager to assist with the fencing, stood cautiously aside while we moved our cow into her new paddock, and watched in awe as Billy unloaded his big track hoe to start digging furiously into the ground where our new barn is to be. After all of which they retired to their play fortress to climb up walls and slide down slides. At the end of the day, our daughter Maya exclaimed, “Whew! That was a hard day of work!” In the evening, we sat down to plan out the work required to build the barn: three straight months of working weekends to get the barn to the point where a single weekend could finish it off….with a good, old-fashioned barn raising. That’s right, all of our hard work will culminate in the gathering of friends, family, and community to work hard, eat homemade food, and drink to the sounds of a local, grassroots band when it’s all said and done.

Beginning the excavation for the barn and greenhouse.

At the end of our weekend, we find ourselves inside once again. A storm is rolling in across the continental divide bringing with it an early spattering of snow and winds strong enough to kick the dust up into our eyes. We have busied ourselves with making a materials list for the barn, tending to the delicate seedlings, and sitting by the fire watching the clouds roll in over the mountains. The kids are busy with an art project filled with paper, markers, and an abundance of stickers given to them by their favorite nurse who has cared for each of them since birth. Sometimes it’s nice to get little cues from the weather; hurry up and work before the wind starts to howl, enjoy the view while the sun is shining, sit and rest while the snow is blowing…. So for now we will relax just a little bit, before the weather tells us it’s time to go build footer forms and pour concrete, to trim hooves and work the horse, to mend soil and place seeds deep into the earth. We will save our energy for all there is to do in preparation for the barn raising, for the sounds and movements of many working hands, for the joining of friends and family to help create the heart of the new Acre. The heart whose beat will be palpable through the thick air, vibrating amongst the pinions, pumping its lifeblood through all who travel in its wake.

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