July 4 2021 marks the ten year anniversary of moving the horses to the The Clicker Center Barn. I am celebrating that milestone by posting the series of articles I wrote about the building of the barn. This is Part 2.
We’re Building a Barn! – Continued
When I got home from the Expo and saw the building site for the first time the following Tuesday I was both astounded and appalled by what I saw.
Mary did indeed have a barn! It was almost completely framed. And what a pretty structure. I do like looking at the bones of a building, especially barns. There’s something very pleasing in the lines of a barn. It’s almost a pity we have to close them in with siding.
I could see all this from the road, but I couldn’t actually get up the drive. A huge tractor trailer was blocking access as they unloaded a load of lumber. I had to drive on, turn around further up the road, and by the time I got back, they had gone and I could get up the drive.
I drove in past what looked like a wrecking yard. There were piles of steel, stacks of lumber lining what is a very long driveway. The trucks had made huge ruts in the soft spring grass. I found what looked like a solid piece of ground to park on and walked up past the house to the future site of the indoor. I felt as though I had just stepped into a disaster zone. It looked like those terrible pictures you see after a tornado or a hurricane has gone through an area. There were huge brush piles of uprooted trees, and mud everywhere. What a mess!
They had begun their cut half way down the hill. So picture a long hill sloping down to merge gradually into the field that was to be my horse’s future pasture. Now imagine you are a giant sculptor, and you can take a knife to make a vertical cut straight down into this hill and push all the dirt beyond that cut forward towards the pasture. You cut and push, cut and push to create a broad flat pad, but what you leave behind is a straight vertical bank at the back of the pad. And what you create is a sharp ten foot plus drop into what is supposed to be horse pasture. And sitting at the foot of this drop off are huge piles of brush and mud.
I was horrified. What had we done! And how do we make it stop! Of course we couldn’t make it stop. The steel had been ordered. The process was moving forward. I had to keep repeating to myself: “Don’t take score too soon. Don’t take score too soon.”
When the work crews left for the night, I paced out the pad. It was too small. “Don’t take score too soon.” It wasn’t long enough. There was just barely room for the building itself, but there was nothing left over for outside turnout for the horses. And there wasn’t enough room along the sides. It felt as though the building would be in a straight jacket caught between the uphill side of the hill and the drop off down to the pasture. “Don’t take score too soon.”
The next day I walked the site with the project foreman, Chris. Wayne was out of town working on another project, so Chris was in charge. We paced out the pad, went over the plans, and talked not just about the physical size of the building, but also how it had to function for the horses and for vehicles coming in. We needed access for hay wagons, and for horse trailers. We couldn’t be squeezed in tight on the pad.
The following day the excavator began another cut down into the pad. They went down another four feet, digging a deep trench with the back hoe and then pushing it out over the edge with the bull dozer. I brought my lap top out and sat in the house working. Periodically I would walk out with my camera and take photos of the huge piles of earth that were being rearranged. I’ve never spent any time in a construction zone. To these men, and I’m sure to any builders who are reading this, my descriptions will seem incredibly naive. And indeed they are. This is the one and only time I am going to be building anything of this size. Twenty plus years of planning and preparation have gone into this building, and I intended to enjoy the construction process – hiccups, major glitches and all.
As I watched the men work and saw how much they got done in the course of a day, I thought about how much work they were putting into this building. But then I also thought about the twenty plus years of work that this really represented, and not just on my part, but on Ann’s as well.
Watching the bulldozer move back and forth across the pad was oddly mesmerizing. I could have watched for hours, but I had work to do. So I would watch for a bit, go back inside, and then several hours later I would go back out and see what transformations they had created.
Bit by bit the pad grew and took on dimensions that came closer to our needs, but there was still that deep cut at the back of the site. And there was still the substantial drop off into the field. And the brush piles seemed to be growing ever larger – not shrinking and going away.
Mary’s barn by now was fully framed and the steel was on it. The day they put the roof I arrived early at around eight thirty, and they already had the back side completely finished and had started on the front. Her barn looked almost ready – so near and yet so far. The work had gone so fast on her barn, but now it slowed down to a snail’s pace as the work crew shifted over to the arena.
The first major next step was the building of a driveway. The quarry truck arrived mid-morning and dumped the first load of stone. By the end of the day there was a driveway curving up past Mary’s barn to the arena. It was going to take a lot of heavy trucks pounding over that surface before my little car was going to be able to make it up the drive, but those trucks were coming.
They brought gravel for the pad first, truck load after truck load of gravel. I saw the first couple of trucks arrive before I had to head out of town once again.
This look back after ten years of the building of The Clicker Center Barn will continue in the next installment.