Sentimental journal

IMG_4056We had ourselves an adventure this week. We added a building to the farm. We hauled it in from miles away, which is how my dad and grandfather acquired most of the buildings that were on this place in my childhood. Multiple chicken houses and other barns came from other farms where they were no longer useful.

This latest building is a 13 x 18 rectangular camper cabin. A YMCA camp is building new cabins and it gave away its old ones, cute little red jobs that were built with hand tools in the twenties and which have been in use ever since. My wife stayed in those cabins several times in her youth. In addition, her parents met at the camp, as counselors. So the cabins have sentimental value to us and we wanted one when we learned they were available.

The timing almost didn’t work. The camp wanted the cabins gone by the end of the month. We only learned about the give-away about ten days before the deadline. But we put our name in and we got a call a couple days later. But then we had to come up with a way to move a 4,000-pound 10-person cabin, complete with bunks, 30 miles.

Nephew to the rescue. He arrived with an F-250 and a heavy-duty gooseneck trailer. At the camp, a couple of forklifts lifted the cabin. The trailer was backed under and the cabin was strapped down. It hung over each side by two feet and it looked a little unwieldy, but there it was.

So then two options presented themselves. This load might or might not require a wide-load permit. We didn’t have no stinkin’ permit. Do we take the major U.S. highway with its wide shoulders and heavy 70-mph semi-truck traffic, or do we take the network of county roads I’d mapped out. The county roads would have been more fun, but we took the highway. We were going to risk the lack of permit and the truck traffic.

And it worked. We sailed down the highway about 45 mph with this bulky load, giving way to trucks and other traffic occasionally, but mostly letting it flow around us, which it did pretty good. The trip took about an hour. The other route would have taken a half day.

On the farm we dropped the cabin–gently–down on the concrete floor of a former garage–one of the destroyed buildings. So the cabin softens a little bit of the last owner’s destructive past. The cabin sits under a hackberry tree I planted in 1968, now fully grown. The little building looks like it belongs there. We didn’t really need a building that will sleep ten, of course. Unless we decide to have a vegetable farm. Then we could fill it with migrant workers. But instead, we’ll probably remove some of the bunks and make a nice little sitting area inside and the cabin will serve as an occasional campout cabin when we visit the farm.

This building holds a lot of memories. Most every summer for more than 90 years youthful campers filled it to the rafters. Some of them carved their names on its walls. They sat on its bunks and created lanyards and bracelets and made new friends that they kept forever. At night, in the dark, they scared each other with ghost stories and listened to the coyotes howl. Those memories will always be a part of this place.

This move could have gone wrong several different ways. The cabin could have been smashed by a semi or we could have gotten a huge fine or it could have simply fallen apart when it was picked up. But none of these things happened. So we celebrate our success. I don’t expect to ever move another building in my life. But now part of me wants to, because I know how. And until the remodel starts we can sleep ten people. Y’all come.

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2 Responses to Sentimental journal

  1. gooseknoll says:

    Oh man, what a wonderful story! You’re a braver man than I, Gunga Din!! But what a save!! I can’t think of anything better than having a camp cabin like this on your property!! Wish we had one in Maine! Then we could have Irish Band Camp there every year, and I could fulfill my life-long dream of growing up to be Gertrude Stein and having an artist’s colony there every summer! Terrific!!

  2. Let’s see. $2 a mile for hauling plus permits for what, 12 states? We could make it happen. Problem is, everyone has to like each other pretty good to stay in such close quarters!

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