Saturday, August 30, 2008

Here's a series of photos of our Environmental Citizen "Building a Barn" class work day activity Friday. This is a second semester sophomore class in which students are building a barn to assist our new Agriculture, Food, and Sustainability degree program, while also learning organizational, leadership, and job skills.

There's a whole other blog for this project, at

From time to time I will post links from this page, which has more readership, to that page, so the Barn-Builders can get a little more attention (which they already deserve).

I hadn't intended to have students doing such advanced work so quickly in the class, but since we will be delayed somewhat in breaking ground by waiting for the DEP permit, and since MOFGA Facilities Manager Verne LeCount was asking for help, it made sense for our first big workday to be helping Verne and his crew finish off their barn.

That was good because it meant that the students who signed up for this got to work right away on a real building, and a real job site with all its hazards and need for safety consciousness.

The new MOFGA barn is a pole building, in which the foundation is cedar poles set in the ground. MOFGA, in a specialty I haven't seen anywhere else, scarfs the cedar into 6 by 6 hemlock posts, attaches 10 or 12-inch hemlock beams about ten or twelve feet on center, and eight inch hemlock rafters. Our job was to help fit the purlins to the rafters in time for the metal roof, in time for the Fair in three week's time, and once done with that, to build the stalls.

Everyone worked hard, including the old man, who got more than his fair share of what my good wife calls "Mick-yoga," stretching and sweating in strange contorted positions on the roof.

Several students went aloft, and also learned to wield a nail-gun. I had not intended to teach the use of air tools, since they are inherently dangerous, but the job of fitting purlins is more dangerous with a hammer and nails, for which you must use two hands, than it is with a nail gun, which only needs one, leaving you a hand free to help keep your balance.

All went very well. We had a great crew and good team work, and knocked out Verne's purlins in double-quick time, with no safety incidents.

1 comment:


Wow, what a great experience for the students! I was surprised to see them up on the rafters. But you are, after all, the search and rescue, safety dude. Way to go Mick!