Possibilities, Neatly Stacked (Rubble Pile, My Ass)



This was one of the more compelling features of this property when I bought it.


Do you know how hard it is to find a barn’s worth of weathered wood for making things like this


Or this?

I mean the rubble pile was essentially a gold mine that I intended to pick through over the next couple of years as projects that required barn wood arose. The bank, of course, had different ideas.

The bank, of course, can kiss my ass.

But regardless of who is puckering up, the sad truth was that I still had to get the rubble pile cleaned up, and fast. In May I had a little barn burning party to get the project kicked off, and we stacked a lot of brick…


And made some good progress.


Then I picked away at it over the next couple of weeks, with the occasional help of friends (and a tractor.)


When I started focusing on tackling what was left of the bank list, clearing what was left of the rubble pile was the last thing I was worried about. I mean, it’s just stacking stuff, right? How hard can that be? (Cue hysterical laughter that comes awkwardly close to tears.)


This was the densest and most difficult section of the pile to tackle, and I started in on it a week ago. After two days, it looked like this…


And I looked like I’d been dragged half a mile behind a truck. Then for three nights in a row I nightmares about moving house-sized pieces of plywood, and I started to look like a zombie that had been dragged behind a truck. So Friday I had a brand new dumpster delivered right next to the pile…


I meant to just spend the last hour of daylight Friday night making a little progress so I could start Saturday with a small feeling of accomplishment. Then I got the brilliant idea to light up the designated “burn pile”…


Turns out you can get enough light off nine cubic feet of bonfire to keep stacking things well into the night.

By Saturday I had located actual ground. You can’t see it, but I at least knew it existed and that the world wasn’t make up of endless layers of shingle-covered-plywood stacked on top of one another…


And Sunday morning, here’s what I started with…


Five hours later (and with the help of a good friend who saw that picture posted to Facebook this morning and, bless her, texted me ten minutes later with “I’m on my way over”)…


Aside from the wood and block, there were a few other treasures to be found in the pile. This pulley was one of them:


(I immediately thought of this light from Restoration Hardware.)

Also, you know my heart melts a little over old tools, so these three intact wood levels made my pupils turn into little hearts and pop out of my eyeballs…


The trash to treasure ratio may seem a little high when you see the volume of junk I hauled out of the pile over the last forty-eight hours, but to me it feels well worth it.


I can’t tell what is more epic about that picture, the fact that the dumpster is almost full or the clouds.

Because I’m still a little in shock at the progress, here are before and after pics taken from roughly the same angle…

Before (March 2012):

After (August 2012):





And this?


It’s no longer a rubble pile, but a future pergola, siding for my chicken coop, a mantle for the fireplace, and dozens of other projects I’ve yet to dream up, stacked neatly in rows.

Also, for those of you checking items off with me, this is also the last project on the bank-list… complete.

20 Responses

  1. WOW! Tons of sweat equity but so worth it. I am always in awe of summer pictures of the midwest (or north or east or however you categorize yourself). Your March picture looks more like my August picture and your August picture looks more like my March picture… referring to the grass of course. I’m glad somewhere someone has beautiful green grass. It’s so dry here, the oak trees are already defoliating due to the run of 100+ degree weather we’ve had for weeks. Your summer green grass is making me long for the winter. But I digress…

    1. Interestingly it was all burnt out about two weeks ago, but we’ve had a ton of rain recently and it’s remarkable how quickly it all bounces back.

  2. When I saw that rubble pile in March I just KNEW there were treasures in it! It was better than I thought! You probably need a T-shirt that says
    “Girl Courageous”!! If I still had the one I got from The Ladies Home Journal years ago that said, “Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman!” I would wear it to work in your honor! (Alas, I wore it out ages ago) Seems the Liberty House has given you Liberty to do anything you believe you can do. Major Congrats!

  3. I envy you the wood project pile and know you’re gonna make some incredible items from it. Woohoo! Bye-bye bank/appraiser! So happy the list is complete! Congratulations!

  4. Yay!!! Congratulations!! Now it’s time to go sit on your porch with a glass bottle of wine and breath. I’m not even going to be a buzz-kill reader and ask you what’s next because right now all I think you should do is enjoy all the hard work you put in to satisfy the bank. Now you can finally look forward to all the projects on YOUR list that you’ve been longing to get started on.

    1. It’s not a buzz-kill… what I might do next is always the exciting part! The problem is there are so many things I’d like to do that I don’t know where to start (but as it stands I do have some other pressing somewhat-related-to-bank projects that need to be finished up… staining the new barn siding, for example.)

  5. Great job, and please continue to share the projects you will make…..Looks like you really lucked out with all this great rubble!

  6. Since I am new to your site, I was reading back, and I damn near cried reading this. My Daddy was an ornamental and structural steel builder and master welder. He also learned woodworking and wood constuction from family, so there was not a treasure pile with five counties we were not intimately familiar with. Let me just tell you the stuff we had stacked up down at the barn pretty much deemed trips to the hardwaremstore in town unnecessary. This was such a source of pride for him! Have fun with your treasures.

  7. Currently it appears like Movable Type is the preferred blogging platform available right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?

  8. Just a question: Why are the bricks and blocks stacked in the barn, and the lumber outside? 😉

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