Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Dairy's New Look

Our little dairy building was in a sad state when we moved in 6 years ago. This summer, however, saw some big changes. As we showed you previously, the roof had many holes in it, and the flooring was failing. Jason, once again, went to work and rescued it just in the nick of time.

 He got to work on the roof, removing all of the old metal and shingles. Of course, it immediately started raining. We did learn a few things about the building's history in dismantling it. The siding is not original, although it is probably late 1800s or so, and the space in the attic was likely a sleeping loft with a hatch and a ladder for access. There was also evidence that a window allowed light into the loft once upon a time, but the opening is now hidden by the slightly newer siding.

The roof framing beneath all of those rotting shingles was actually in really good shape, and the original pegs holding it all together are still doing their job after about 250 years. We think this building is the oldest "original" building on the property, dating back to the origins of the house sometime between 1746 and 1780. While the house has seen a lot of modification throughout the Foremans' tenure here, the dairy is still much as it was when it was built.

Once the roof was resolidified, Jason turned his attention to the interior. The joists all needed to be replaced, as did the front sill. Luckily, much of the flooring could be salvaged, although there was a huge hole over which someone in the past had nailed a piece of plywood. Naturally, Jason had some spare flooring he could use to repair the hole. With a new sill and flooring in place, the dairy is sturdy and will remain upright!

And, finally, the big reveal!

We decided to go with cedar shakes on this building, since wood would have been used originally, and with a smaller building, it is less to maintain. Jason also formed what is called a projecting comb ridge at the apex, a traditional feature that is also apparently a lost art. This type of ridge, used long before metal flashing became the norm, helps deflect water away and protects the exposed ends of the wood shakes at the ridgeline. Basically, the north side of the roof stands taller than the south side: picture a huge comb-over made of wood.

This summer marked the first time in 6 years that we were able to safely enter the dairy and walk around in it. It felt like such a huge step forward, since it had been neglected for so long. At least the main house was always habitable, not so for the dairy. Once we strolled around inside, we noticed some old writing on the crumbling plaster walls. While the cursive handwriting is challenging to read in places, some of it appears to be grocery lists and tallied costs. Perhaps someone quickly tallying and tracking the farm's expenses for the week?

The next step in the dairy's renovation is to replace the siding with beaded age-appropriate siding to match the house, repair the interior walls (we still need to decide on plaster vs. drywall), and of course paint. But, all of that is for another day.

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