Sunday, July 21, 2013

Heat beat -- for now

It's still July in Maine for a whole ten more days, and we have to remember that, but the weather just broke after a bad hot spell, and I couldn't be happier.

I've built three serious Maine barns, another house, refurbished this old farmhouse, and made any number of sheds and greenhouses and wotnot, all in the outrageous slings and arrows of Maine's weather extremes, so I should know by now what building work in summer can be like here, the humidity, the heat, the rolling thunder, and so on.

But this last heatwave was the longest, hottest and most unrelenting I can remember.

I can see the results in all of the poor finish, the awkward spots, and the uncorrected mistakes in the new extension. But -- and we should always be grateful for small mercies -- when the cold front blew through last night, accompanied by a microburst of fifty-sixty mile per hour wind gusts and sheet rain, the ice and water shield on the roof held, and the building is still dry and still upright -- no wind damage at all.

Even though our canoe was picked up like a toy and moved ten feet, while the well-weighted plastic sheeting on the wood pile blew off, and leaves, twigs, and small branches filled the air for a few seconds.

That's good enough for me, for now.

It's hard enough to build by yourself. It's even harder to do so when your shirt is wringing with sweat by nine in the morning, and it takes three or four gallons of water to keep you on the job even for six hours, let alone eight or ten. The finish will get fixed in time. The main thing is, the building works. It holds itself up and keeps out the rain.

Things are looking good for at least a short while here. I have a rented drywall lift for two more days and need to hang furring and then drywall on the ceiling.

The ceiling joists are actually the bottom chords of the twenty-one rafter trusses we built last week and the week before, sweating during the heat. They're surprisingly level and even, but the drywall has to support a foot and a half of cellulose insulation, so these trusses, built twenty-four inches on center, must now be "furred out" with strapping to sixteen inches on center. Then we "hang the rock," or, in normal-speak, we install the sheetrock (AKA drywall, or wallboard if you're British).

It's not particularly hard labor, not compared to the framing or sheathing. I'm actually looking forward to it.

Mostly because the weather is cooler and the air dry.

It will be fall before we know it. Maine summers are short. There are already red leaves on the trees in odd places -- in bogs, for instance -- where trees are stressed by micro-climate. The days are growing shorter. All the signs are there. I'll be back to fifty-sixty hour work weeks before you know it, and this extension project will linger. So a cool couple of days in which I can be as productive as possible, that's a godsend.

Better get on. Five-thirty am on a Sunday morning, but daylight is burning.

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Welcome to our Farm Blog.
The purpose of this blog is for Aimee and I to communicate with friends and family, with those of our students, and other folks in general who are interested in homesteading and farming activities.

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