Barn Building Update 6

Roofed and Ready

Phase one of the barn is almost complete. The first five posts can be found here – update 1, and here – update 2, and here – update 3, and here – update 4 and here – update 5.

Considering how long the earlier stages of the build took the roof and sides went up remarkably fast, like days instead of weeks fast. 

There was a minor issue with the very last roof panel, in that they had it almost in position and then dropped it and it bent. This meant they had to order a replacement piece, but while they waited they got the metal up on all the sides as well.

Just a few more finishing touches: garage doors, electricity, trim, and a little more fill so the barn doesn’t look like it’s wearing floods.

Status Update


Finding the time, energy, and motivation to write blog updates has become more challenging recently. For years fall was my favorite season, and from a weather perspective it still is, but from a mental health perspective it is not. As the years have gone by, I find my mental health more and more impacted by the shortening days and that I start noticing the days getting shorter sooner and sooner in the season. I also find myself liking my job less and less and these two things are now fully coinciding. This begs the question, is it really seasonal depression or does my job just make me miserable? Before last year I always assumed it was just the lack of daylight but recently I’ve come to think my dissatisfaction with my work situation is a bigger part of my mental health issues than I had realized. It also doesn’t help that this is the first year in over ten years that I am teaching a full load. Since about 2010 I have taken on various non-teaching roles on campus for which I was “released” from one or more classes to fulfill and the last few years before my sabbatical I was often filling multiple non-teaching roles meaning I was teaching even fewer classes. Not only am I coming back this fall from a year long sabbatical of not teaching, but I’m coming back to a full load with full classes, and I am exhausted! Teaching, well good teaching, is a performance art. To capture and maintain your student’s attention requires a significant level of physical, mental, and emotional energy that I just don’t really have enough of any more. I am giving literally all my energy to my classes and they are leaving me utterly drained and unable to attend to other things, like writing blog posts. My hope is that my stamina for teaching will return, at least a little bit, as the semester wears on and I will have more energy for other endeavors and can get back to writing at least weekly updates if not twice weekly updates.

Piling on to all of this is a new round of grieving for Leeloo. Round one of the barn is almost done, the next blog post will be an update on that, but having it so close to done has totally stirred up all my grief over losing Leeloo. She should be here. She should be the first horse to use the barn with me, to explore it and run around like a crazy and kick up her heels and she’s not and that has just been way harder than I had been anticipating. The few times I’ve started drafting the next barn related update it in my head I immediately get sad and then I switch over to some other task to distract myself. But avoidance is not a healthy coping mechanism so eventually I need to deal with it. Writing those few blog posts this spring was really helpful with that first phase of grieving so I’m hoping setting aside some time to write the next barn update will help me work through this most recent round of grieving.

Just have to keep on keeping on.

Barn Building Update 3

Taking Shape

Work continues on the barn, the first two posts can be found here and here.

They used the super big fork-lift thing (I’m sure it has a real name but super big fork-lift thing will have to do) to get the cement discs into each of the holes and then began setting up the posts. 

It was at this stage that I realized the overhead door on the east side of the barn is not where I had wanted it to be in my original plan. After a really good conversation with the crew I realized I couldn’t have it where I wanted and I will just have to sort it out once we get to stage two and putting the stalls in. The frustrating thing is I could have had it where I wanted it and saved money had someone sat down with me sooner and laid out exactly how the building would actually be built and then we would have opted for a smaller door that could have gone exactly where I wanted it to, and been cheaper. But at this stage the plans have been designed and everything purchased and it would cost money to make such a major change. I’m slightly frustrated because I thought I had worked out all these types of details earlier in the process but lesson learned. Not that I will get to apply that lesson since I will not be building another barn, but perhaps some day you, dear reader, can apply that lesson. They may tell you they can build around any size (and they mostly can) but plan everything out in multiplies of eight and plan on eight-foot centers and everything will go smoother.

After the east side was up they moved on to the west side.

The overhead door on the west side also had to get adjusted a bit but that one doesn’t have any ramifications to the stall area.

After both sides were done they put up the north end-wall. They are leaving the south end-wall for very last so they can continue to bring the super big fork-lift, as well as the various other big equipment, in and out while the put everything up.

If you look in the lower right hand corner of the last picture you can see they are still using their Pythagorean triangle to square the building. I still get happy every time I see it. I may no longer have any desire to teach math but I still love math.

Barn Building Update 2

The Foundation

Work continues on the barn, the start of which is documented in this post.

They had originally been using standard hand-held compactors to compact all the dirt and gravel being laid out as the base, but at a certain point that wasn’t enough and they upgraded to this monster of a roller.

They also started putting in some of the drain tile that will go around the edge of the barn to direct water away from the building. That is that little pile of dirt that seems to be just hanging out in the middle. Still need to work out an overall waterflow and containment strategy for our whole property but drain tile around the barn is a good first step.

After everything was rolled and compacted the equipment people came and picked up the big roller and replaced it with another large machine which they’ve so far been using to unload and move the various materials that have been steadily arriving. From the looks of it I think it will also be the machine that gets the trusses up in the air. They spent the rest of the day measuring and remeasuring and then remeasuring and then just one more time lets remeasure the dimensions of the barn (happy they are being so thorough!) and then made my math heart just sing by using the Pythagorean theorem to square the corners! 

The day after that they went around and measured out the location for every support beam and truss and then two of the crew used an auger attachment to dig holes for each location while the other two painted the bottoms of the posts with white rubber roof coating.

Apparently the first round of holes weren’t deep enough because they dug them even deeper the next day. Not sure if I should be concerned that the holes farthest away from the house have water in them. They also re-marked out the locations of everything and smoothed down the tops of most of the dirt piles.

Then they laid out these short cement discs at each hole location as well as the posts that will go in each hole. I have no idea how they got the cement discs in each hole in such a way that it is sitting level and in the correct location but I’m trusting that they know what they are doing. 

Nate and I spend a lot of time wondering how the heck something is going to work or in some cases what they are doing or why they are doing it. Luckily we have some help supervising the work.

It Begins

We’re Building a Barn!

We’re building a barn y’all! They officially started to build our barn this week. It was a little anticlimactic since we aren’t actually digging anything so there was no official “breaking ground” moment, instead we had a dump truck full of dirt show up very early in the morning; while I was still in the bathroom downstairs, the one without a curtain because we never got around to getting curtains because who’s going to see anything, the corn?  The dump trucks kept on coming for several days with load after load of dirt and then rock.

We have three main workers on the crew who have been spending the week marking out the corners of the barn and getting that dirt and gravel laid out and compacted down, layer after layer.

Not only has it been a bit anticlimactic but it has also been very bittersweet. I have always wanted a barn and more specifically an indoor riding arena because I am an indoor cat with an outdoor hobby. I prefer riding inside even when it’s not dark and snowing because the sun hates me and I hate the bugs. Case in point – Nate and I were out doing some yardwork today for about two hours. We went out at the same time, were working in the same area, and both had sun shirts and jeans on. I also sprayed myself with some bug spray and had my ridiculous “bug jacket” on. When we were done Nate had no bug bites, I had four. wtf? This is why I like being inside. But there are lots of great boarding barns with indoor arenas, and the reality is this whole having our own farm and our own barn thing has been one challenge after another since it all started in 2014. Had I had a different horse, one who did well in a boarding facility, (and there are lots of horses who do great in boarding facilities) I’m not sure I would have kept on fighting for this dream. It would have been much easier to spend the money on a truck and trailer and focus on showing and go on vacations and not work four jobs. But I kept at this dream because Leeloo was not doing well in a boarding facility and I truly felt my only chance of getting her healthy and sound was by bringing her home and having full control of her care, knowing that even then it might not be enough, but knowing that I had to try. So here we are. We’re building our barn, but Leeloo isn’t here to see it and that has made this week very emotional. I am both so very, VERY excited but also so very, very sad. Particularly when some new thing happens and Nate and I find ourselves stopping whatever we’re doing to go look and I have this moment of “I’m sure Leeloo is in her full on watch-horse/nosy-horse mode” and then remember that she’s not here to be nosy with us. But I know she’s being nosy with us wherever she is and because of her I am achieving this lifelong dream.

We’re building a barn!

Where do we go from here?

Life keeps on moving

It has been a week and a half since Leeloo died. Though I’m still sad and I miss her greatly I’m doing much better. Writing this post helped a lot. Like, a lot. Prior to writing it out, that last hour of her life would just randomly start replaying in my head and would just take me right down with it. After writing it, the unwanted replays stopped. It is like I had a giant gaping wound that was gushing blood everywhere and writing about it was like putting stitches in and a band aid on. The wound is still there, but it isn’t randomly gushing proverbial blood everywhere and it has started to heal. It still hurts if I metaphorically bump it. Like walking out the door and seeing her halter, or cleaning up the mudroom and finding all the feed containers labeled “Leeloo,” but its down to a far more manageable dull ache. I don’t like throwing out the word trauma/traumatized, but I think that last hour was traumatizing and writing it out was a huge step in healing it. If you have experienced some sort of deep loss or trauma, I would encourage you to try writing it out. Whether you type it out and share it with the world, write it on paper and burn it in a little private ceremony of letting go, or something in between, it can be very helpful. Even if it doesn’t help as much, all you’ve lost is a little bit of time, and chances are it will make a difference.

That last week of Leeloo’s life was also a big deal for another reason, which you may have seen in the post. We put our first payment down on the barn! At the time it felt like the cruelest twist of fate that we signed the paper and cut the first check for the barn the day before Leeloo was diagnosed with cancer. If felt like the universe was rubbing salt into an already awful wound. But now that some time has passed, I’ve decided that Leeloo was waiting around here to make sure that I was able to fulfill this lifelong dream. Ever since the economy went to shambles in 2020, we have been searching, and searching, and searching, for a builder who was actually interested in working with us to figure out how to reconcile my dream, with our budget, and this messed up economy. Had Leeloo died this winter I don’t think I would have had the strength to keep searching. There have been so many setbacks and obstacles in this journey that I think her loss would have been the one I couldn’t get past. But we did find our builder, and they are great, and they were able to work with us to figure out how we could get this barn built and actually be able to pay for it.

So thank you Leeloo for staying with me long enough to make sure I found our builder and that this barn will be built!