Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The barn floor

One of my fondest memories is working with my grandfather on some of the projects around his farm.  I love telling this story to my boys.  I don't know who enjoys it more, them or me!

I remember one summer working on replacing the barn floor.  We first had to remove all of the equipment sitting on the old floor.  Then we continued by pulling up the old rough hewn boards.  Some of them weren't even nailed down and Grandpa slipped on one of the boards and fell through to the dirt floor, about 8 feet below.

I ran inside to get Grammie and fortunately, Grandpa wasn't hurt.  We continued our job of replacing the boards.  That summer, my cousin was working with us.  He was only about four years old, but he had--and still has--a strong work ethic and enjoys manual labor.

When we got to the point of laying down the new floor on the old boards, we used 2x6 boards and 16d galvanized spikes.  These are fairly thick boards and large nails.  They're not easy to drive.  One of us would start a nail for my cousin and while he tap-tap-tapped away, we'd work on a row of 2x6 boards.  My cousin worked feverishly on his 16d spike.  He missed more than he hit the head of the spike, but he succeeded.  At the end of the day, his spike was fully driven.

My favorite part of the story, though, is what Grandpa said to me at the end of the day.  He brought me over to review the day's work for our four-year-old partner.  There, in the soft wood, were a large number of very small dents surrounding the 16d spike over about an 6 inch circle.  With a grin, he said, "You used to do that!"

Why did I like that so much?  Because in not so many words, he told me, "You have come a long way.  You have what it takes."  He was saying that he had believed in me back when a day's work was driving a single nail and hitting the wood more than hitting my target.  He gave me the freedom to miss my mark, because I would eventually learn to hit the nail on the head.

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