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“Raising the Barn, Part 2: Floors & Roof”

With the posts secured upright and our beams braced in place, it was time to add girders and joists so we could work towards having a solid floor on each level of the barn.

Each joist was chainsaw milled with 1 flat side, and the ends were notched so they all rested at the same precise height (regardless of how big/wide the log was) on the girders.  Andy painstakingly measured out the placement of each joist and expertly notched each one.  As usual, I followed along with the drill and a pocked full of screws to secure everything in place.

It was slow and precise work.  To make access to what would soon be the ‘hay deck’ easier, Andy put together some nifty stairs so we could easily walk up and down.  The hay deck is only about 3 feet off the natural ground.  We designed it this way so that we could pull the truck up next to it to unload hay.  The low clearance to the ground-level wasn’t a problem, because later I would excavate everything below it, creating an underground area for the animals.

Once the joists were in place, it was time to place the decking!  I enjoy decking, and this even more-so because we intended for it to be as tight as possible, to help the underground barn quarters retain as much heat as possible in the winter.  A tight deck above, covered in insulative hay, would help that heat stay down in the barn area.  Anyone who has placed decking probably understands how satisfying it is to make the boards fit as tight as possible!

I measured, cut, and secured each board while Andy started installing girders and joists above me, which would hold the flooring of the house above.  That’s right, there’s a house at the top of the barn!   I used both screws and nails to secure the decking, as  the pummeling of heavy hay bales over time, to me, was certain to break screws and make nails back out.  Screws don’t back out like nails, and nail’s don’t like to break like screws.  So combining the two was a sure-fire way to ensure the decking wouldn’t come up anytime soon.  

Meanwhile, we also worked on driving huge spikes into every joint.  So far everything had only been secured with screws.  Driving several stout 6 to 8 inch nails into every joint, every brace, and every union of wood would ensure the structure was solid.  As an extra measure of security, wherever he could, Andy notched every joint so that the wood helped to support itself.  For example, on the braces (triangles); each post or beam had a shallow notch cut into it so that the brace could actually rest in on a small lip, meaning the screws and nails aren’t doing all the work holding it up.

As I worked on decking, Andy bounced to the roof; weather was on its way and we didn’t want the project getting soaked!  I wasn’t present for it, but he somehow miraculously framed in the roof, way up at the very top.  I’m sure the telehandler helped a lot with this, too.  When needed, I scrambled up a series of scary ladders (which I studiously  tied to the framework with twine for peace of mind), up to the roof, to help cut and install blocking between the rafters.  As Andy laid rafters and marked blocking placement, I measured, cut, and installed the blocking- at least for anything that didn’t require dangling out over oblivion to install…

Over the course of about 10 days, the hay deck was finished, the rafters were complete, and the roof was tarped.  Just in time for the rain!