Barn Raising
The Clear Creek Farms Way

When most people decide to build and raise barns they have detailed plans, store-bought wood, electrical tools, plenty of ladders, and plenty of help. When we decided to build our barn, we had plans, relatively detailed. We had wood, not store-bought but harvested. We had electrical tools, but we’ll get to that later. We didn’t have plenty of help; we had two workers and a camera person.
 
 
We found the piece of real estate where we wanted to put our barn and began to devise a plan to erect our barn. We watched countless hours of This Old House and read some books on how to build barns, so we started doing the calculations. We decided how long and how tall we wanted the building. We decided where we wanted to make bays in the barn for hay and farm equipment. We did the advanced geometry to figure out exact angles for beams to make sure that when it rained the water would slide off. The plan was complete. We were going to build a barn that was 33 feet wide by 24 feet deep. The height in the middle was 14 feet, with the front open at a height of 10 feet and the back would be 7 feet high. Time to go to work.
We got all of the materials down to the barn site - all the wood, all the tools, the plans, and all the angles. That’s when we realized something very important…we were 300 feet from any electricity whatsoever. Okay, time to rethink our plan. Well, we could make all of our cuts on the wood back at the house and carry the wood down to the barn site…no that would take forever to complete the barn. Okay, I know, we can use our little chain saw to make all of the cuts that will work just fine. Problem diverted. So we start digging our holes for the corner posts; we fill the hole with concrete and put a bolt in the concrete in to hold the corner post up. We cut holes in the top of the 4X4 middle posts and the 8X8 corner posts so that we can later set in beams to connect all of the post. We got all of the post standing upright. So far so good. Day 1 done.
Then we figured it was time put up some cross beams to connect the posts. But we realized that we only have one ladder. For most people this might create a problem, but not for us. We just put a 2X8X10 across our two sawhorses (which were several years old and should have been stabled while we still lived in St. Louis) and we could both stand on them while we drilled the holes for the bolts to go in. Problem solved. So we started putting this heavy oak…wait, this brings me to a critical piece of the barn building.
Remember when I said that most people would buy manufactured wood from a Lowe’s or a Home Depot or a similar store. Well, we got all of our wood from trees that had fallen on the farm (see Logging). This gave us a very interesting variety of wood ranging from sweet gum, cherry, sycamore, poplar, and oak. Well, once you start trying to drill through different kinds of wood you can always notice when you hit a piece of oak. So strong your battery is on your drill (remember 300 feet from electricity) it’s extremely hard to drill through good oak, much less hammering into it or even using a nail gun.
Back to where I was. We started putting this heavy oak 1x10x15 to connect our posts. We started drilling into it, and all of a sudden the post start wobbling and down comes the post and of course the 1x10x15. Okay, let’s try this again. This time we decided to connect the posts with a 1x4 catty-corner to hold the post up while we put the heavy oak to connect them. It’s up. We moved to the next one and got it up, and then we moved to the final one and got it up. Day 2 done. That night we decided we needed to put a 2X8 on top of what we had done during the day. Okay, that doesn’t seem that hard. It will help brace the whole then…great.
 
Safety First !!
Day 3 begins. We went down early to get started for we just knew this would be a long day…but we could never have guess how long it would actually be…or how funny. We measured the 2X8 for what we wanted, made the cuts with the chainsaw and started to put it up. We got up on the sawhorses, and that's when we remembered one vital thing…we are short. So we took our one ladder to one side and Kerry got on the ladder (he’s only 5’6). I decide that I only needed a couple of more inches so I put an old tree stump on the sawhorse. I thought Pat was going to die laughing as she continued to take pictures of this event. Then we started lifting this 2X8X12. If you thought an oak 1x10Xx16 was heavy…you haven’t lifted an oak 2x8x12. First attempt to get the board up…failed; we dropped it. Second attempt to get the board up…failed; dropped again. Third try to get the board up…success. Okay, now we were in business. The board wass on top of the others, but when as we started drilling holes in it to connect the boards…a big gust of wind came…and off goes the barn. Okay, so now Day 3 became reconstruction day. We continued the day with no more major incidents and ended with front side connected.
Day 4 saw us get the sides connected and the back connected.
 
To stablilze the barn we nailed it to the tree.
Day 5 was a big one - time to start getting the rafters done. Almost all of day 5 was measuring and cutting rafters. I haven’t mention this; but when you’re cutting wood with a chainsaw, you can’t really get precised cuts so we had some rafters a tad (1/8 in. to 3/8 in.) different in each rafter.
 
 
Day 6 - time to start putting the rafters up. We connected both sides of the rafters on the ground and elevated them with a pole…the first one is up…and it fell back down. Hmmm, I know, I’ll put Kerry on one side and Pat on the other. Well, we only have one ladder. Kerry’s a little wild and crazy … I’ll put Kerry on top and then move the ladder over and have Pat stand on it, and they can catch the rafters as they come up. Good idea. We got four or five of the rafters up, and connected them temporarily with 1x8s to keep them up. Then all of a sudden, they all fall down. We laugh a little bit and then put all the rafters back up. We secured our rafters with the first of our laves, 1 x 4 sweet gum. If you have ever worked with sweet gum, you know it will twist as you watch it dry; but once it is nailed down, it works great as laves. Ok, I guess you should make sure that your rafters are vertical before you secure them, not in this first construction, but we had not noticed that at this time. We finished putting in the laves, and it looked great, strong – well Kerry and I could walk around on the roof.
Next was putting in the sides. We put a 1x4 between our post, one near the top, one about 6 inches from the ground, then a couple in the middle. Now to do the vertical boards. We had several kinds of lumber that had been cut into 1x6, 1x8, 1x10 and 1x12. Did I tell you that all of our sawing was done with a chainsaw? We started on the ends and before long, we had it finished. No real problems. No, I had not taken into consideration the top. I had put the top – cross board level, not running with the roof. So we had to put in something to nail the siding board to at the top. That was when we noticed that the rafters were not straight. But we continued.
A trip to the St Joe Metal, and we purchased tin for the roof. 14 feet long, lots of pieces, a full load. We also got four 10 foot ridge pieces. We purchased screws to secure the metal to the roof and we were on our way.
 
 
Kerry was back. We borrowed a couple electric drills to screw in the tin. On our first piece of tin we discovered that our rafters, although very secure, were not vertical. We were leaning a little to the east. No matter; we continued; got our first piece to tin secured; then worked our way, on the front of the barn, across the barn. We secured the pieces, but didn’t put in all of the screws; we would go back and do that. We used 27 gage tin - very, very heavy. It would take all three of us to put a piece in. No one got cut, but I’m not sure why not. When we got to the other end of the barn, we were only about 4 inches off. Not bad. The next day we started on the back side. It was easier, the back wall being lower. We got a system going. Kerry pulled the tin up; Pat helped haul it into place; and I pushed the tin up. Kerry then screwed in a couple of screws near the top and I did the same at the bottom - then another piece of tin. Finally all of the tin pieces were up. We got the ridge pieces in and we had a barn.
 
 
About this time, we decided to get into goats. We had a hay barn but not a goat shelter. I looked at the pile of lumber left and discovered that we had enough 14 foot 2x4’s to build a 13 by 24 foot goat shelter and feed room. We again stated to dig holes for the 4x4 post, figured out where the doors were to be and how big the feed room would be (13 x 8). Once the post were in and secure, we put the top plates on and then figured out
 
 
how to hang the rafters from the end of the barn. Metal rafter hangers were decided upon and used. The rafters went up easily, followed by the laves, and then back to St Joe Metal for more tin. We had the roof quickly finished. Then we worked on the sides, made a door, and figured out how to put in a floor in the feeding room and a divider from the goat shelter.
Pat and I finished the back of the barn. Kerry had to go back to school. Without the nail gun, I’m sure we would have never finished. Pat did most of the nailing, and I hauled and cut boards to length. We then put boards on the other end. In only a few weeks, and no major injuries, our barn was completed.
From the beginning – before the feed room – Pat’s mother complained the barn was too small. What? It would easily hold all the farm equipment we owned and more. Of course, she was right as evidenced by the feed-room add-on. We have since added a 12 X 33 foot annex on the back side. Homemade wooded gates (lined with cattle panels) completed the construction. Oh, and John, the tractor with all its implements the barn was originally built to house now lives in one of the goat paddocks….uncovered and unprotected from the elements.

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Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168


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