Lofty Ambitions

I usually dive in to the weekends like I’m base-jumping off a cliff: with a healthy dose of panic and a ridiculously long to-do list that, with some luck, I may be able to fashion into a parachute before I hit the ground.

I almost always hit the ground first.

But last weekend I thought I’d try this new thing all the kids are doing called “setting realistic expectations.” Sounds crazy, right? I’m pretty sure people who set realistic expectations don’t end up living in a garage for eighteen months while building their own house, which is unfortunate for them because there’s really nothing like waking up with sawdust on your pillow and a mouse under the covers. For over a year.

So, fine, whatever, I’ll be realistic. Last weekend I picked two, just two things I wanted to accomplish before Monday hauled off with its big, fat fist (cleverly disguised as an alarm clock) and punched me in the face. Two things. 1.) get a good night’s sleep, and 2.) build a hay loft in the barn.

You might be thinking, “Oh, how hard can that be? Go to bed early, get up in the morning, work your ass off. Easy, right?” Right. Unless you live in a bat cave pretending to be an actual house. Then you will go to bed early, wake up two hours later to the sound of angry bat wings flapping around over your head, spend a not-insignificant amount of time attempting to catch said bat in a laundry basket, and then he’ll disappear in to your closet, never to be seen again.

As far as I know the little shit is still in there snuggled up with my sweaters.

So. That went well.

And I ended up doing this…


On three hours of sleep.

If we’re being honest, I should have gotten a hell of a lot more done this weekend, but sleep deprivation makes me prone to distraction. And epic sentence fragments.


It does not, however, stop me from playing with my tools.

I actually put the joists for the loft up last week, using the existing joist hangers…


So the bulk of the work was cutting and installing decking.


Similar to the way you’d attach decking to floor joists (more on that here) I used 5/8″ plywood, trimmed it to size, broke a blood vessel in my eyeball trying to heave it up on the rafters, and then fastened it down with deck screws.

Oh, and then moved ten bales of straw up on to it.


There are three things I need to say about this. One, yes, I’m building a railing onto the loft. Eventually. Two, I did some really horrible math when I was figuring out how many bales of hay I could store up here, and came up with 60. That’s a lie. I can probably comfortably fit 30. . Three, you may be wondering how the in the hell any number of bales of hay get from the ground up to the loft, and to that I answer… with the help of my mom, obviously.

While I was pondering the mysteries of loft decking, my mom was moving all of the remaining pallets of stone out of the barn, by hand.

Before mom:

After mom:

Seriously. She out-badassed me times ten on this project, which I’m grateful for because the barn is cleared out, the straw is in the loft, and I even had a little time to start constructing a new barn door.

I’d show you what it looks like, but of course I didn’t take a picture of it. Because bats.

That’s basically my new reason for anything in life that I should have done, but didn’t. Like laundry. Want to know why my laundry isn’t done right now? Because bats.

Definitely, because bats.

14 Responses

  1. Bats. It’s a love/hate relationship.
    I sure hope you get him out of your sweaters soon!
    And go to your mom’s to sleep (at least for one night) to catch up!

  2. Is some sort of block & tackle or pulley system in your future for lifting hay bales?

    Would some bat houses outside maybe keep the bats from coming in? You know – if they have their own place they wouldn’t need to crash with you & your sweaters.

  3. We had a bat in our apartment twice last year. We slept with a light on low for like 2 weeks or more. We found out they were falling down the bathroom vent fan. It is old and you can see the blades. So the bat guy told us that small brown bats can’t chew through painters tape because of their tiny teeth. So needless to say we have had painter’s tape on our bathroom vent for over a year and just shower with the door open. I’m not taking that tape off ever. The landlord can do it when we move out because I’m too afraid of what I’ll find stuck to the other side. LOL

  4. I live in DC where there are still a lot of old urban carriagehouses and stables, mostly in the allies of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Most of them have been converted now to garages and “alley dwellings” but many still sport their 18th-century hayloft hardware, such as pulleys mounted on the outside to lift hay bales up through a window to the loft. They used huge hooks, like butchers’ hooks, to grab the bales, and a rope and pulley system to lift them.

    The second photo down shows a good garage example with the pulley still in place:

    All that boring nonsense to say that when you finally decide to stop killing your back and install your own pulley system, you’ll be part of a long history of People Who Use Tools.

  5. On a positive note, bats keep the flying insect population down 😉 I would love for something to eat up all the mosquitos!!!

  6. Why can I only see what looks like the word ‘whore’ spray painted on your barn wall? Really, my eye can’t focus on anything else! LOL

    You. YOU are a badass, no matter how many pallets of stone your mom moved!

  7. Haha! That word is actually “Whatever”.
    The pulley system sounds like a GREAT idea!

  8. With bats in my house,I’d sleep with a butterfly net clutched in my hand and the light on. That was a lot of rocks and blocks that “Mom” moved. Nice.

  9. I grew up on a dairy farm, so I think I may know a thing or 2 about stacking hay and/or straw. 90 degree heat plus having to wear long pants/sleeves at the same time or risk having completely raw arms/legs may be the sole reason why I moved to the city. You should make some sort of contraption with pulleys to hoist the bales up there. We always had the elevator, but were working with about 200x what you are dealing with here. Can’t wait to see your new door.

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.