The barn, week ending June 24, 2023

First, a picture of Fritz. He’s perfectly happy hanging out in the weeds as long as he knows where daddy is.

Second, snakes. We got ’em. Rat (the one below was at least 4′ long), Ring-necked (Diadophis punctatus), something else I’m not sure of. I found at least a dozen ring-necked snakes living between the boards above the cellar.

Rat above, ring-necked below. The guy below was maybe 8″ long and thought he was hiding. Until I tickled him.

I hated to evict them but the floor needed to go. Why? Well, read on…

Soon after moving in, we found that the boards making up the roof of the cellar were completely rotted out. The only thing keeping it from collapsing was the flooring that had been put in above and a few extra supports put in a few years back.

With the rains last week I moved from working on the main barn joists, which were busy getting wet since I haven’t been able to patch the roof leaks yet and began tearing up the only reliable method we have for getting into the main barn. What could go wrong?

First order of business was to add some additional supports so that I could remove the warped siding. Not pictured here though you can see more pictures in the gallery. I wasn’t able to remove all the siding which is why you can see a few hanging down where the rafters prevented me from getting to the nails. Solved that a few days later using a reciprocating saw and metal cutting blade.

Anyway, after removing most of the warped siding I got down to removing the flooring so I could evaluate the sills and determine what work was needed to not only replace the flooring but give the roofing more to sit on than just the siding.

Ripping and tearing and screeching of nails ensued with fairly frequent pauses to…

Say “hi!” to the snakes nesting between the boards.

Loads of silt had blown in over the years and they found it a comfy, dry place to be until I came along.

Because part of the evaluation needed to include fully examining the underside of the floor, I started cleaning out the cellar.

Loads of debris that needed to be removed. About half the posts you see in the picture weren’t holding anything up.

If you’d like to see some destruction live, check out

The barn, week ending June 17, 2023

I’ve been working on finding a source of 2×6″ rough-sawn wood for a while and when trolling FB marketplace came upon someone local selling the remains of a barn from about 1945 (same vintage as our barn) that came down recently. The collapse was the result of a brick foundation that was no longer sound combined with 35+ MPH winds that we had back in early May. I don’t have a picture to show you but the seller showed me a picture of a barn that had been blown at least 6′ off its foundation.

I ended up with a dozen 2-ish” by 4″-ish boards from 12-16′ long. They’re all slightly different widths and slightly different heights but all at least 2×4″.

I also came away with a number of siding and flooring boards that I’ll use going forward but the first order of business was replacing the rotten joists.

Here’s the wood stacked in the runway. Look at me, using barn-terms.

Unfortunately the boards had been sitting tightly stacked out in the elements for several weeks and mold had begun growing in the dark, wet crevices. So they had to be treated for that and left to dry.

While that was going on, I removed some half-joists, sistered boards and some additional flooring so that I could more easily put in the new joists.

Here’s the area before that additional removal.

Oh, here’s the area last year just after I removed the pile of plastic that had been sitting there for years.

The first two joists were cut to 13′ long and because nothing in the barn is plumb or level, each joist is customized to fit flush with the joist next to it. That means I had to create a few notches since much like the barn, the new joists are not the same height across their length.

The first joist needed one notch about 1/2″ deep.

The second needed one quite a bit deeper. I did clean it up more than shown before putting it in place.

If you look closely at the joist along the outer wall (is that considered an outer girt?) you might see a fair amount of rot. That joist will also need replacing but I haven’t decided if I can cut that section out from the middle of one post all the way to the middle of the next or if I should sister another board to the inside and just replace the rotted section.

At this point I took a bit of a break from floor work, in part because I knew I had a load of boards in another room that needed examination to find out which were usable.

Before that though I needed to remove the hundreds of nails still stuck in most of the boards. Wrecking bar to the rescue! This part was very cathartic.

Several hours (between two days) later the room went from that shown above to…

After seeing how much the floor at the rear was warping downwards I decided to tackle shoring up the supports underneath.

From the first day we saw the barn, we’d wondered what magic kept that corner floating in the air and I’ll bet that the beams are locust. Combined with the fact that the section pictured below is under an empty corn crib likely kept things from falling down.

I’ll probably get slammed for using a farm jack to raise the corner up but I’m using the tools I have.

For those of you who haven’t read about restoring old barns or lucky enough to actually do so under experienced tutelage, when leveling a barn you have to go slowly. The more out of level, the slower you go so as not to cause the structure that’s spent years to decades settling into its current state from flying apart.

My goal wasn’t to level the building but just to give those beams something stable to rest on. I raised the section up just enough that I could add a rock to the stable column I’d already built and then lowered things back into position.

The columns aren’t perfect but they are stable on their own so I expect they’ll do the trick until I can get around to actually leveling the room.

Oh, see that post just beyond the farm jack? Prior to this work it was literally just swinging in the breeze. It didn’t make contact with the ground at all. Now it’s at least sitting on the rock you see in the picture.

There are more pictures to see, so click below and enjoy.