First harvest in the Bluecircle barn


Looking northeast from the south edge of the Bluecircle, 10/2011

The barn door installation was just in time for a hard frost and the first birthday of the Bluecircle.  More importantly, it was time to harvest the sunflower garden and getting the place enclosed was essential to keep the neighborhood raccoons from making off with the half-dried heads.  The cool, damp mornings are ideal for mold growth on the sunflowers and I underestimated the size of the job –  4 full wheelbarrows even after losing some to storms and leaving smaller heads for the jays.  This year we will try drying them in a large sling attached to the side of the barn and supported by posts.


Walls rise, leaves fall

The carpentry began with red chalklines snapped on the slab at the open ends of the tractor barn and ended with trim around the windows.  Including trips to local lumber yards the job took about 70 hours and now frames the opening for a door that hopefully will be installed before the first snow flurries.  Steel angles anchored to the bolts of the metal roof proved to be the key to anchoring the 2×6 and 2×4 framing for this project.  This step would have been easier if the distance between the bolts had matched the hole spacing in the steel, but the end result was sound walls anchored at the roof peak and corners.   

Erection Guide: a tractor barn

Stony ground at the crest of the hill that rises from North Watervliet Road may have once been the site of a barn, but so far I have not uncovered evidence of a foundation.   When it was time to plan a tractor barn other sites looked more attractive since this high ground is swept by winter winds and without orchards access to the road was not needed.   Our home overlooks the lake from just beyond the southwest corner of the farm, so we chose a location on the south side that would be a short walk from the breakfast table.  A couple of adolescent 30-foot oak trees will eventually shade the barn and help it blend into the adjacent small woods.

Our local building inspector provided helpful advice on the high snow load capacity (50 lbs/sq ft) required by local lake-effect snows, and in early September a flatbed truck delivered the 18-gauge steel shell of the new barn.  There were immediate similarities between the building and the Erector sets  I built with years ago –  lots of evenly spaced bolt holes,  about 60 pounds of nuts and bolts to fill them, and large angular foundation pieces.  While the Erector screwdriver and wrench were not supplied, the “Erection Guide” a well-written set of construction instructions  and structural drawings were.  With these in hand I negotiated with Charlie Sample, an affable local builder and self-described entrepreneur (and tree lover!), to lead his crew to move sand and pour concrete.

Charlie and men efficiently built the barn’s slab.  After studying my calendar,  the jumble of steel in the field and the two full buckets of nuts and bolts Charlie and I renegotiated the plan and agreed they should also erect the building’s arches.   About 1000 bolts and 100 hours of project labor later his progress report was “It’s done! Whew “.   In medical school there is a saying: “Watch 1, do 1, teach 1″.   I think Charlie has now had a chance to both watch 1 and do 1 on the same job, so should be ready to serve as instructor if anyone needs him.   A website advertises that 4 salesmen for a steel building company  erected one of these buildings in a weekend, or presumably in about 60 hours.  They must have had a seasoned foreman!

Work continues on enclosing the ends of the barn before snow decorates the farm; there was frost on the 2 x 4s last Sunday morning so we will press on with this project.