July 4, 2021 marks the tenth anniversary of moving the horses to The Clicker Center Barn. That was truly Independence Day for all of us. I am celebrating the anniversary by posting a series of articles I wrote in 2011 about the building of the barn. This is Part 5.
We’re Building a Barn! Continued
The following day the first of the trusses went up. They brought in a long metal brace to keep the trusses from bending as the crane lifted them. I watched each step of the preparation. They had to get the straps even on the brace. And then they had to lift the first stack of trusses to the ground to get to the gable trusses. The lumber yard had stacked these trusses in the middle of the pile instead of on top.
That brought some grumbling from the crew for the extra work that created. They took great care pulling the stack of trusses down onto the ground. The last thing they wanted at this point was to damage any of the trusses. They dragged them across the gravel into the center of the building, ready for the crane to lift them up onto the headers.
They normally would have taken the gable truss outside the building to lift it up, but the space around the building was too tight for their equipment so they had to bring it down the middle of the building and out through the gable end. Only it didn’t really fit through the gap between the posts. They tied a rope to one end to guide it through. It started out looking like the gentle guidance you’d give a boat as you tried to nudge it through a lock system. But it ended up looking more like calf roping as they wrestled both with the truss and the wind.
The truss could only take so much wiggling. Something had to give and it was the gusset plate joining the two halves together. Oops! They did a temporary fix to keep the truss from falling apart even more while they somehow squeezed it through the opening. They set the truss back down on the ground and hammered it back together. By the time they were done driving in extra nails it was stronger than the original.
The truss was raised back up and worked into place. Again there was the attention to detail, to getting the truss exactly set to the marks they had made. They nailed it into place at the ends and then nailed it more solidly to the gable end posts, checking again and again the placement to make sure the building was truly square.
The next truss went up and then the two trusses were tied together through cross bracing. The process was repeated three more times that afternoon for a total of five trusses. More braces were added, then the whole building was chained. This was the vulnerable stage in the building. Until the roof was up and the whole building was wrapped in steel, a strong wind could take it down. So at every step in the process they would pause to set the cross bracing and to add more chains. The chains kept the building from twisting out of square. Inside it was like walking through a giant spider’s web – one that kept growing as they added more trusses.
I left for my next clinic having seen the first five trusses go up. When I returned five days later, the roof trusses for the indoor were in place and the first three trusses for the section of the building that would eventually become the barn were up. It was looking more and more like a building!
I sat on the stack of remaining trusses and watched as the bracing was put in place. I was feeling stiff after a long transcontinental plane flight. Watching the crew maneuvering in the trusses made me feel even stiffer. As the crane lifted each truss into place, I couldn’t help but think of images of a ship’s mast. The trusses sailed up into the air and were swung around with a rope to bring them into place on the headers. Each truss meant more bracing. By the time they were done with each section, there was a huge amount of wood holding that roof together.
I’d missed seeing the holes dug for the posts, but now I got to see the final holes dug for the gable end. They weren’t nearly as impressive as the ten footers they’d had to dig at the opposite end of the building where the fill was even deeper. These only had to go down about four feet into the ground. They brought the big, stegosaurus truck in and lined the drill up over the marks they’d painted in the gravel. The drill bit through the layers of gravel and dirt and had the hole dug in minutes.
They got the posts in the ground and then decided that after all they had put the shorter poles in the wrong holes. Rather than leave it looking not quite right, they brought in the forklift and used that to help maneuver the poles back out of the ground and into the right holes. The posts were now as they wanted them. They lined them up and leveled them, and when they were satisfied with the placement, they poured in a bag of dry cement, and then back filled the holes. With the gable posts in place the framing of the building was almost complete.
I loved how the building looked at this stage. I loved the openness of the space, and the shadow patterns in the gravel formed by the roof. After the work crew left for the day, I stood under the canopy of the open roof and visualized how the barn was going to look. For the first time ever I understood modern architecture with all of its glass. Standing there in the bones of the barn, looking out at the sky framed between sections of the roof, it seemed a shame to close it in. It was such a beautiful building just as it was.
To get to the barn I drive past two other construction sites. Both are building large multiple unit condominiums. Perhaps if I stood inside the framing as I was able to do for the arena, I would see the same beauty in form, but I think not. The large arch of the arena creates an amazing space. One thing the builder had talked me into was using scissor trusses instead of the more conventional flat trusses. I’m so glad I listened to him. They make the building. It’s a beautiful roof line. Especially with the open side, they make the building seem so much larger and more open.
The last trusses finally went up. These extend the roof another eight feet beyond the end of the building. The stalls for our five horses are at this end of the barn. Each stall will have a dutch door going out into a small turnout run. We needed some form of protection for these runs so there will be a deck above them, and protecting the deck will be this additional eight feet of roof.
The saga of the barn construction will continue in the next installment.