January 20, 2019
Today the barn moving story continues. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks helping a crew of four men lift a 100 ton barn off its foundation and onto a temporary one. By “helping” I mean mostly standing around taking pictures and videos and trying not to get in their way. I’m a dive right in kind of guy, but these guys are used to working together and they all have their jobs to do and they know how to do them without a lot of communication. I’ll watch them for a few minutes, try to figure out what needs to be done next and then jump in to help. The trouble is, what I consider help, very quickly becomes a hindrance to them as I just get in the way of their progress. So I do what I can, but in reality that’s not much with this project.
This is really blue collar, old school work at its best. The first thing they did when they got here was stack 6 x 6 blocks of wood, four feet long in a grid pattern up to the ceiling of the barn’s basement. This reminded me of the game Jenga only the wood blocks weigh about 60 pounds each. It is hard work. Add to that, the fact you’re lifting many of them up over your head and into position and you can count on some sore muscles in the next few days. They call these grids, “cribs,” and eventually the weight of the barn will rest on four of them. I’ve never had any experience in moving a barn so naturally I ask a lot of questions. As they get to the top of these cribs they position a jack on each side. The foreman told me that each configuration of jacks placed strategically on either side of the top of the four cribs is able to lift 25 tons each. He said our barn is right at the limit without adding more cribs and jacks. I asked him if he’s ever had one fall off. He said no but there’s a first time for everything. Funny guy.
So there’s a lot of jack-hammering, lifting, pounding, shouting, and cursing taking place while these guys are working. They have no idea at this point that I’m a preacher. That revelation will come later and there will be a lot of preacher humor when I disclose the fact. This is my fun. So I walk around the structure, and under it, and do some stacking and lifting and I ask a million questions to the point where I begin to recognize I’m becoming annoying. These guys work; they don’t talk. Plus, they’ve been doing this for years and they know what they’re doing without even thinking about it. Their grandfather started this business three generations ago. They worked with their dads on it since they were kids. They still use the same engineering, the same blocks, and the same tools. About the only thing that has changed is they use diesel engines to raise their jacks and pull the structure down the road instead of horses.
There are three brothers (third generation) and an uncle (second generation) working on this crew. Every now and then I hear a comment about the way grandpa used to do it. I can relate. These guys get along well, teasing each other, and laughing at each others mistakes. It’s not a “this-is-funny-what-you-just-did” kind of laugh. It’s more like “you’re an idiot” kind of laugh, and this goes on all day long. The poor youngest guy on the crew takes the brunt of everything. It’s the family pecking order I guess. I would get tired of it, but it seems to work for them.
They always bring three work trucks to the site every day. It’s an hour and half drive from the shop to the barn. Each truck has different tools and such that they need for the project. That doesn’t seem very efficient to me, but I’m not the boss. I noticed all their trucks are Fords. I asked the foreman why and he said that’s what Grandpa liked and they got attached to them and didn’t see any reason to change. I guess that explains our love for the color of tractors and combines we drive.
These guys work year around. They have four projects going right now. Two houses and one barn are up in the air waiting to moved to a new site. Our site is ready, the power company is on call to take down the lines as we travel down the road, the sheriff is ready to block off the road, the township is ready, and the crew is anxious as am I to get this show on the road. My wife has all the necessary ingredients in place to host a tailgate party at the site when they transfer the barn over and set it in place – including a fire pit to warm the freezing spectators. We would be moving it at this moment, but it’s snowing and they don’t move them on snowy days. So I’ll work here at my desk catching up on everything that was put on the back burner due to the barn priority.
This barn was on the path to destruction. If not for the desire of the new owner to save it from demolition, it would be nothing more than an afterthought at this juncture. But now it has an all new life and an all new purpose, and an all new future. It will stand for generations to come and tell a story all its own. Maybe your life is on a similar path of destruction. Perhaps you have only fear at what the future holds for you. God has a better plan for you. He wants you to know inner peace that comes only from a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. He is standing at the door of your heart right now, asking you to let Him in. What will it be?
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have itabundantly.” Those are the words of Jesus found in the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 10.