Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Crazy Week: Raising and Razing two roofs and a '46 Ford Convertible - My 100th Post!

I love my brother Rick's expression on this shot...he's always horsing around.  Here, he's pretending the house is going into the van.

It has been another hectic summer culminating in one crazy week.  All of this is leading to my youngest son Jon's imminent departure for Florida Institute of Technology this Sunday. To ready ourselves, we did some major housecleaning, a yard sale, spreading 9 ½ tons of new stone and mulch, planting, gardening, fresh coats of paint everywhere, and along with all the normal tree pruning on Beisel’s Christmas Tree Hill.

We had always thought we would keep our outhouse, our second last outbuilding remaining from the original Ahner farmstead. The floorboards had been weakening, but it was the tin corrugated roof that was now failing the rest of the building. It was finally decided to rid the yard of this eyesore. The excavation of the 5-foot-deep pit was interesting. I found a handful of vintage marbles, a few old style Gillette safety razors, a few pairs of eyeglasses and as a matter of course on this old farm: GLASS!

You don’t have to dig very much and it doesn’t really matter where and you are bound to find glass. Herman Ahner at one time hatched a plan to recycle glass, he must have seen some financial gain to be made in it. So it is as ubiquitous here as blades of grass.  A few of the keeper bottles found was a pint bottle from Lehighton’s former Kirkendall dairy and two Coca-Cola bottles stamped “Palmerton.” One oddity was about 6 bottles in original condition with some now brownish liquid in them with a brown screw-top lid. The liquid inside them smelled like turpentine. But then again, all the bottles smelled of turpentine.
After all these years, we never realized our
outhouse was a three-seater.  The child-size
seat was covered and piled with garden tools.

Pint-sized bottle from Lehighton's
Kirkendall Dairy.

With the pit filled and sod placed on top, we could now turn our attention to more constructive endeavors: thatching a roof in the style of the Pennsylvania Dutch. My other son Nate graduated from Kutztown University with a minor in Pennsylvania studies. Part of his senior project was to conduct a roof thatching at the Kutztown Folk Festival. So why not build one here?

If you know Phil Meyers, you'll know he's always got a new
antique car.  This 1946 Ford is just one of his many beauties.
So the whole family pitched in, under Nate’s supervision and direction, to put up a 12’x12’14’ Pennsylvania Dutch-inspired “Tiki hut.” The main posts were cut from a friend’s nearby wood. The lathe beams that the reed bundles or “fackles” were attached we cut from our property. (The Dutch used rye stalks instead of reeds; we used cat-tail reeds because our wetland property is loaded with them.)
The first few "fackles" are bundled on by Nate.

And true to the Dutch manner of construction, the frame was built on the ground, making it easier to secure the layers upon layers of fackles to the lathe. Once finished, with many hands at the ready, the roof was lifted and pegged with 10” iron nails. To make a worried father feel better, another nail was pegged above and the entire joint bound with rope.
Even Nephew Mason Rabenold was employed
for some cheap labor.

I quess Jon needs to get used to this type of flora
if he plans to stay in Florida for the next four years.

The hut was a great success and kept many of the younger crowd at Jon’s sendoff party remarkably dry despite the nearly 6 inches of rain we got that day.

So there it is. The capstone of my summer becomes the capstone of my year and a half of blogging by becoming my 100th post. I thank all my dedicated readers of this site!

Can you hear the grunts?

It's true about the many hands thing.

Satisfaction in a job well done.


Ronald and Kimberly Rabenold

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