My long-term plan had always been to retire at 60. It didn’t work out. It took me until I was 62. People said I’d be bored. It turns out we are all as busy as we want to be.
So, what does one do with their time particularly in the age of quarantine and Covid? I thought of taking up knitting, but that’s too stationary. Perhaps extreme long-distance running. That idea lasted a couple of seconds. Maybe travel to exotic places and hang with the rich and famous. We would need a lot more money than a former state employee gets in retirement. Ok, I like woodworking, building canoes and generating saw dust. Good idea.
The problem was that our garage is used exclusively for parking cars. Something about Montana winters, snow, etc. I needed a workshop.
My first thought was to get someone to put it up for me and I would just finish the interior. Well, it appears that people, even in Montana, want to be paid for their work. Add the skyrocketing cost of lumber and having someone else do it was getting expensive. I’m not talking the Taj-Mahal here, just a 24x24 foot workshop.
Not one to give up easily, I decided to do it myself. Well, almost by myself.
It all starts with a flat surface. I live on a mountain with very few flat surfaces. Ok, I hired a guy with a machine. Note the beautiful blue Montana summer sky.
Once the ground was almost leveled and trees felled, I needed to get gravel in and dig the footings. This will be a partial post and beam/stick-built structure using the posts I hewed last winter. Moving dirt is not fun. Luckily my wonderful wife loves to do it. You have never truly experienced gravity until you try and roll a wagon filled with dirt uphill. I know they built the pyramids this way and even dug the Erie Canal by hand. I’m glad they invented machinery. Someday I’ll get a tractor.
Finding good tradesmen is not easy. The good ones are always busy. We waited almost two months for the mason to come and pour the slab and footings. You just have to know when getting a professional is a good idea. Getting this guy, even with the wait was a good idea. Pouring doesn’t sound difficult until the cement starts to harden and you’re not done yet. If you need a good cement guy in the Flathead Valley, Tom Schuster is your guy. Oh, by the way, he’s originally from Pennsylvania!
So, I finally started on the walls and guess what happened? Welcome to October in Montana. Ten inches of snow and twenty degrees, but no worries, a couple of days later it was forty something and the snow was melting. The picture on the right is November in Montana. It’s kind of exciting never knowing what the weather will bring on any given day. Its not very good for planning however.
So that’s where we are now. The joists are all in and tomorrow I will start on the ridge board and the rafters. A couple of lessons learned: