The way out here

It all hangs on this

Posted 5/25/20

There I hung about eight feet off the ground with the ladder top a mere foot beneath my outstretched boot. My grip slipping off the newly installed roof, I attempted to surrender as much ground as I …

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The way out here

It all hangs on this


There I hung about eight feet off the ground with the ladder top a mere foot beneath my outstretched boot. My grip slipping off the newly installed roof, I attempted to surrender as much ground as I could afford in search of footing below. As I wrote perhaps a month ago, I’ve undergone the project of expanding my chicken housing along the back of my property. In a flurry of effort, my wife and I have managed to erect a 100-square-foot building to shelter our growing meat birds who currently share residency with our rather cantankerous laying chickens. Miraculously, I set the foundation and floor level and framed out the walls using whole eight-foot boards. Considering the pitch required for the roof on the high side of the building, it capped out at about 10 feet. At this point in the project, I should have been thinking ahead just a little bit more. This was also the point it started to drizzle just a bit and I worried we would not have the roof on before things got slick. So, with the rain backing off and picking up as though only to prick our heals to action, we cut the rafters and anchored them atop our walls. Last for the day was the OSB sheathing required to umbrella the whole project. So, with the sky spitting and the clouds rolling with a passive-aggressive gray attitude above, my wife began to hoist up sheets to me from the deck below. Heaving them up, I arranged them to fit the edges of our perfectly squared rafters.

I wish.

Of course, the rafters were just an inch off over the span of an eight-foot board, but I couldn’t be making long wedge cuts on the side of every board after. So, from this dilemma, a redneck fix was born. As a well-rounded country guy, I naturally owned a few lassos. Whilst perched on the wobbly roof, I affixed one end of a lasso to the corner of the building and directed my wife to stretch and tie the other end off around the base of a small tree nearby. Once this anchor was in place, we reciprocated the idea on the opposite corner, only this time we tied the ground end of the lasso to the back of the lawn tractor. You see where this is going?

Under my gruff supervision, my wife then pulled the tractor away from the building, creating tension across the framework in order to straighten it enough to fit the square it should have been resting in. If you are an OSHA safety inspector reading this, don’t worry, it gets better. Through this Gerry-rigged fix, and a little mechanical coaxing on my part while atop the roof, it finally met the lines I was looking for and I quickly secured the first OSB sheet to lock the square into place. Continuing on with drops of rain to remind us of our dwindling time, the next three boards went up rather swiftly until we were down to the final small sheet, only four-by-four feet to complete the roof. And here is where I really really should have been thinking ahead. But what kind of story would this have made, otherwise? Regardless, I failed to be so ambitious as to climb down through the open roof and retrieve the long ladder from the shed. Instead, I eyeballed the edge of the roof and the meager height of the short ladder and figured I’d be okay. As I stood from driving in the last board and looked back at that same edge of roof, I began to have some doubts. Shuffling on my belly, I attempted to hang over the edge and reach down with my foot to the short ladder. Completely at my max and still not nearly close enough, I had another ingenious idea. Climbing back up onto the roof I had my wife grab another lasso. She stood on the opposite side of the building from where I was trying to lower myself and threw the end up. I got myself a good grip and went redneck repelling. Sliding off the roof with a death-grip on that rope, she held me dangling for a moment before the joke tired her out and she allowed for my safe return to earth.

Our neighbors must have thought something squirrelly had they been watching our escapades, but as sure as our new chicken house has a roof, my wife and I will likely look back laughing at how ridiculous we were. Sometimes the way out here is using what you have to get you through. With an ounce of brains and a few ropes, I guess we didn’t really need the long ladder, but to be fair, with two more buildings to go, we will be bringing it down to the job site. After all, the way out here is also not making a habit of acting like a knucklehead.


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