5 Days in November
My brother Chris and his partner Corinne have a small holding near Newcastle where they raise sheep, cattle and chickens as a hobby. He built his first barn some years ago but has now accumulated so much equipment, feed and animals that he is running out of storage space – requiring the construction of a new barn.
It is possible to buy a barn and just get a team in to build it for you – which is what most farmers do. But Chris being a Lawrence and an Engineer (a great combination unless you want something done right now) decided to do parts of the first barn himself, and it took a long time.
For the second barn he decided to do even more of the work himself…. Even to the extent of designing the structural steel work, ordering the stock steel girders and welding them together himself. I thought he could perhaps do with a hand, although one not qualified to do very much on a large scale and also, perhaps worryingly, another Lawrence/Engineer combination. Not a very strong hand either as it turned out – those girders are firkin heavy – and I haven’t built up the muscle mass of the champion rower turned busy farmer/superman like brother Chris.
One positive outcome of my planned visit was that in order to progress the barn to a stage where my visit might actually be of some use, Chris had to drop everything and prioritise digging the foundations. This was no small task as the site was massive and sloping and required some very deep holes, with precisely marked out and levelled stanchion bolts.