The never-ending roof



Yesterday could have been one of the hardest days physically on the homestead yet. We are still working on the roof and one thing that I am learning really quickly is that things tend to go much slower than planned. We would have loved to finish the roof, but as with many things, it was not to be.

After a tumble by my Dad, I realized that it was my day to go up and nail the boards on the roof. It was much easier when we could reach from the ladder or tractor. After analyzing what we had to do, we decided to try to put on the boards from the staging. This plan worked for several feet, but then the boards got to high for me to nail. That is another one of the challenges. The nail gun has to be plugged in to a compressor with a long cord. It is also probably 10 pounds. When you are balancing on staging and trying to reach a rafter, it seems a lot heavier that that. It still completely amazes me how I can nail a board on a rafter and miss. It’s so frustrating.

Thursday, we decided that a safety harness would be a good investment for either my Dad or I, whoever was on the roof. We picked up a nifty safety harness kit at Home Depot. I used this all day yesterday. It did indeed make me feel a lot safer. Just knowing that if I were to fall, the device would protect me and I wouldn’t end up on the concrete 20 feet below.

Although the harness made me feel so much safer, it was also a pain. I literally had a six-foot span that I could move without unhooking my safety and latching it to another rafter. It took a while to move that device every few rafters. I tried to work up the roof to make it more efficient.

Well, the staging worked for a while, but then I was trying to nail above my head which was not possible. Again, we looked at the situation. The rafters, at least the ones above the loft, have collar ties, which is a tension tie in the upper third of the rafters that are intended to resist rafter separation from the ridge beam during periods of unbalanced loads. These are often caused by wind or unbalanced roof loads from snow.

A 2 by 10 above the collar ties was the next perch for me to receive the boards and nail them. As odd as it may sound, this position felt the safest of any! The problem is, we do not have all the collar ties put in over the front with the high ceiling.

I did all I could reach. When I received the second to the last board today, I barely had the energy to stand up on the ladder spanning the two sets of staging. At that point, I knew it was time to call it a day.

Today’s goal is to get the rest of the collar ties installed so that I can finish up the roof. My Dad tells me he has a plan to get the collar ties up. It is amazing. There are times when I think ‘How in the world are we going to do this?’, but every time we figure out a solution.

So, there was a bit of comic relief to end the day. I was up on the ladder spanning the two sets of staging and needed to get down at the end. If I went about four feet over the collar ties, I could reach a ladder so I decided to give it a shot. A neighbor had stopped by so he grabbed hold of the ladder. I made it to the ladder just fine and was climbing down to the loft. I decided to step off the last two steps of the ladder to the loft and was suddenly suspended in mid air. I had lengthened the harness what I though was enough to get down, but it in fact was a tad short. After being suspended in mid air a minute, I was able to climb up on a board enough that my Dad could unclip the harness. On the positive side, at least we know it works!

Laura Reed

About Laura Reed

After 15 years in college athletics, the last seven as an assistant athletics director, I was burned out with 70-hour work weeks and extensive travel. I resigned my position and accepted a position in marketing at a small, vibrant college in my hometown of Unity, Maine. In the process I wanted to go back to my childhood where we raised polled Herefords, had a Christmas Tree Farm and spent many hours outside. I decided I wanted to build my own home on beautiful farmland that my family owns. With help from my Dad, the most talented person I’ve ever met, we are building my home together. I have decided to blog my experience – the ups and downs, the joys and frustrations. What was once an open field will one day be my home! The dream in my head is becoming reality. I can just see the lambs frolicking in the field, chickens in the barnyard and going running with my Alaskan Malamute!