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Going home to Wisconsin


For many years, I never gave a thought to returning ‘home’ but now that I am approaching retirement age and making plans, I find myself longing to return ‘home’. I miss the view of the windmill through my bedroom window and the squeak as the blades turn and shift in the winds.


“Home” for me was the farm in Wisconsin. It wasn’t very big and rather hilly but still I think I roamed those fields and woods with delight. They remain the same—the woods all deep and mysterious and cool—but incredibly steamy and full of rocks and ferns and lady slippers and morels. The fields are corn and alfalfa with cows placidly watching.


In October of last year, we did a lot of cleanup including removing trees around the windmill/water pump, revising the driveway and demolishing several buildings that were falling down. Lots of other trash trees had grown up in the yard and along with the large maples in the front yard were taken down.


On this trip, we decided to re-roof the garage. This was a lengthy process particularly when conducted by two novices with vintage bodies. One of my brothers had estimated the supplies for us—what remained was the doing.


First project was to remove the old basketball hoop (with Rick’s skid-steer) and then to take off the old shingles. There is a special kind of shovel that is used—it has little divets in the front and a wedge in the back to make prying up the shingle nails easy. It didn’t take long and I did some—but then I got stuck up on the roof and could not figure out how to get down. Paul had to help me down—going over that edge was just more than I could do.


The old sheeting had to be knocked off. This required beating on it from underneath with a maul, pulling up nails, using a crowbar, and in general a lot of oomph. I figured out a way to crawl up through the rafters from inside the garage on a step-ladder and was able to do a fair bit. I just could not crawl over the edge even with the roof jack in place.


So my self-assignment was to clean out the inside of the garage. I also handed up tools that somehow migrated to the ground and refilled water bottles. My new wheelbarrow got a good workout as I made many trips to the burn pit.


The next step was to replace the rotting rafters—there were three. Then new sheeting had to be put in place. The sheets of plywood are nicely marked so you have lines to follow when nailing. We enlisted the help of nephew Stephen for this step. Paul’s nail gun was handy too.



Now the roofing felt goes on—not easy when rolling a huge roll of paper across a roof. There can be absolutely not a breath of air until you start unrolling and then there seems to be a gale. The hammer stapler was handy but it took three to nail down all that paper. Of course two were raw recruits!


Finally shingles are nailed in place. Shingling can only be done in the early morning or late evening as the shingles heat up. They melt together to seal the roof. We tried to be there at six to take advantage of the early sunrise but the two of us were really slow. Both of us felt our vintage bodies each night and were grateful for the bottle of Advil in my bag.


Both Paul and Rick helped us shingle that roof—I had to leave before I saw it finished. The inside of the garage was cleaned out as well with Rick taking away a large load of stuff to the iron recycle man.


Now all that remains is an overhead door, a personnel door, and new windows. What a job! It took us a week to do what professionals would have accomplished in a day and a half or so.



More of the photos can be seen here:



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