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The anatomy of building a shed

GAYS MILLS - This spring I decided it was time to build a proper garage. This want, that had gradually become a need, has been a long time in coming. We have gotten along for 11 years here with a multipurpose, dirt-floored outbuilding that can be called a shed, a garage, catch-all, and storage facility. It has served many purposes since we’ve been here and for decades before that. I’m guessing that it is (was) almost 100 years old. 

The new building will replace the old one on the same site. My job for the last month has been to prepare the site for the new building. That meant  emptying out the considerable contents of the long-standing multipurpose farm building, and then  tearing it down to make way for the new. It’s been a busy month.

Step one: Remove the lean-to my friend Joe Schwarte and I built onto the shed a few years ago. Located on the west side of the old structure, it was extremely well built, Schwarte-style, using Amish sawed, full-sized lumber, a metal roof, and sided with wooden apple bin panels.

Step two: move the contents of the ‘lumberyard.’  The lumberyard was housed in the corncrib that made up the entire west wall of the old building. The crib was 24 feet long and six-feet wide and was a handy place to store random, ‘this-will-come-in-handy-sometime,’ accumulated pieces of lumber.  It was chuck-full.  Also part of step two, take the corncrib apart and burn it.

Step three: Cut down a huge elm tree that was growing up partly outside and partly inside the corncrib. Hats off to Earl Winsor in getting that monster cut down safely.  I spent three days ‘making wood’ out of that tree. The growth of that tree no doubt sped the demise of the building.

Step four: Empty the main part of the shed. I’ve been amazed that people haven’t stopped by at what certainly looks like a yard sale in progress. With no shed to store stuff, much of my ‘collection’ wound up scattered around the yard.

Step four: Remove the stump of the cut down tree. Top-notch Brockway equipment operator Travis Williams handled the job with a huge loader and considerable skill.  A funny side light–as Travis and I were looking the stump job over early one morning, the remaining wall, half the roof, and the remaining skeleton of the building collapsed, in slow motion, of its own accord. We couldn’t believe our eyes.

Step five: Take the building apart, board-by-board and burn it. This involved first removing two layers of asphalt shingles, way past their ‘best by’ dates and a layer of wood shingles. Practically all the wood from the building went into a fire on site, nails and all.

I did most of the deconstruction myself at a slow pace.  My main tools were a variety of wrecking bars.  It was a good daily workout and believe it or not I enjoyed the experience. I kept thinking of the people who made this classic old farm building, all of the events, world and local, that have transpired while it stood through the seasons and many decades of change.

However, I’m glad my part of the job is done. I am looking forward to having a new pole shed built soon, with a concrete floor and room to park cars. It will also have a small workshop.