That's me sitting on a barn, in March 2011. The barn hasn't moved since--or at least the pile of lumber that constitutes the barn-ish part of the barn hasn't. The barn's location, on the other hand, had already moved once by the time I perched on this pile for a picture, and was to move once more. In an earlier post I described disinterring the old barn foundation from its encasement of weeds and ash. According to our neighbor, it was arson that brought the barn down just a few years ago. Arson motivated by excruciating envy. But the police never pressed the case. The foundation left behind, that we laboriously liberated by hand in November 2010, turned out to have ill-placed cracks. And so our new barn-to-be got moved a few yards northward. It was to be a pole barn on piers (columns of concrete poured into holes in the ground), built during spring break 2011. So, here I am at that time, surveying the situation.
Here we see the pole-barn footprint outlined by white batter boards, and the just-abandoned burnt-down barn foundation in the right foreground. The batter-boards were set over the course of a long slow afternoon using, among other things, the 3,4,5 rule. It's an application of the Pythagorean theorem. Ed is very good at getting things square, level and plumb. I am good at imagining such things--order and symmetry have powerful appeal. But the actual placement of a straight structure on the the earth's curvy, bumpy surface isn't at the top of my skill set. So I hang the plumb bob where instructed, and otherwise wait until time to shovel something. His theorem is awfully useful, but Pythagoras's purported belief in transmigration of souls is more interesting, hence useful in its way while waiting to shovel. Much depends upon what one takes the soul to be. The robust, whole-personality infused-at-birth (or conception?) soul typical of Christian belief wasn't afoot in the sixth century B.C. A rather more glimmery thing, housing perhaps the emotional nature, or basic vivifying force, was more like it. Taken so, the soul's movement from one living thing to another is a little more plausible.
There was plenty of dirt removal to do, only some of which involved shoveling. The holes--sixteen of them--needed to range from about 30" to about 50" inches deep, depending on their location along the gently sloping site. They ran about 12" in diameter. We're talking about 2.5 cubic feet of damp-to-wet dirt per hole, give or take, with each cubic foot weighing 80-110 pounds. So a fair bit was done with a generator-driven power auger, supplemented by a pump to remove the water that kept running into the holes as they deepened. Something about digging in North Carolina clay in a spring rain perhaps? But the work had to be finished off with post hole diggers and shovels. Field shrews took a liking to the holes, and considering that they might after all bear the souls of dead family members, Ed and I were at pains to liberate them from their deep, round, erstwhile graves. Once completed, the holes were a thing to behold. Each was expected to embrace a column of concrete, upon which a key fixture of our future was to be erected. Expected, that is, until the county foundation inspector came around to look them over....