#6 - Barn Raising 101

Here I am chiseling beams for the barn re-assembling.

Next up would be the barn raising. First we found a very old book about constructing hand-hewn barns at the library. How hard could it be?

We just needed to find a VERY LARGE block and tackle. Like the ones shown lifting the bents in the black and white hand drawn illustrations of the book.

I started scouring antique shops and random junk stores, looking through those 'piles in the corner'. Where oh where could a block and tackle be - that was large enough and in good enough condition to raise a barn?

As I inquired about the largest antique block and tackle the shop owner may have, I was often asked what I ever wanted that for? My response was often followed by an awkward silence, and then "You can't do that - you need a crane!"

The book said a block and tackle would do the job and a crane was NOT in the budget. Our barn was estimated to be over 150 years old…If they were building them that long ago, we certainly could re-assemble it.


The instructions were to re-assemble the mortise and tenon beams horizontally on the ground into "bents". They were to be raised with the block and tackle attached to a "gin pole".

The gin pole could be a rather young tree - hardwood - freshly cut from the property. The book gave some general dimensions for the diameter and height of the chosen tree. "After cutting down the tree, dig a hole to secure it into the ground at a good 'fulcrum' distance." Attach the block and tackle and... Viola, start pulling it all up!

Gathered some adventurous friends and family, offered free food and gave it a try...

Up it went...

The book was right – it worked - and no one got killed.

The beams were standing again!

John standing on our 'temporary roof' surveying our progress.

In hindsight, it was not our best laid plans to build over our heads while we lived beneath it all... but it did make for lots of stories.

One night, torrential rains started in the middle of the night. (Remember, John worked nights at the newspaper during this phase.) First I felt a couple drops, then it began pouring in all around me. Literally down-pouring INSIDE. I was up all night covering what I could, moving things to 'higher ground' and bailing out about a foot of water that flooded the basement.

Another night while John was working, one very dark and very windy night, I remember climbing those ladders on top of our temporary roof with a head lamp, hammer and nails. Trying to re-secure Tyvek that was flapping hard in the wind, beginning to blow off - as I teetered too about to blow away!

When John went to work at the newspaper at night, I painted. Wow, was that a lesson in tolerance! When the lights were on down there at night, the bugs came in by the droves. LOTS of them in the Adirondack woods. Some were amazingly HUGE! Since the place was far from 'buttoned up', my only hope was to teach our dog to go after the really big ones... and just keep painting.


The business and studio were now in the basement too.


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