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Blog entry by frank posted 12-25-2006 04:01 PM 899 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Wooden Timber Joints, Tree Nails and Saint Nicholas:

....and so tis the early hours of this Christmas morning and as I sit here and ponder the wonder of it all….

Wooden timber joints, tree nails and Saint Nicholas…. or maybe; mortise and tenons, wood pegs and your saintly neighbor here at!

Look closely at the picture here of these timber beams dating back to the 1700’s and you will see they are joined at the joints by hand cut, white oak pegs of wood. Yes, thats right, I hand cut all the wood pegs anew when we put this English Barn back up on our land. A lot can be learned from studying old barns as they speak a language of their own and have many stories to tell if we can but take the time to listen. So come and pull up an old tree stump, sit down now and lets here one story from a wise old barn.

“Back before the days of the Revolutionary War, when King George lll still ruled the land and I was younger then, I started my life as an English Barn. I’ve been through some changes since back then and if you’ll notice my bent plate up there on top you’ll see there’s no notch where I would have been hand gouged, running my length until just recently. Why even those nails were hand made back when I was young and to save on some nails they used that notch. Yes, the one there now my current owner put in me with a chain saw so as to inset my outer skin of side boards. This bay here that your sitting in was not my original first bay as I once had another bent further over, ah, those were the days when I was much more airy then I am now and my first owner stored all those sheep in me at night.”

“Why I used to watch the younger one Adam as he would climb down into the old saw pit out back and Enoch would take his place on top of the log and together they would saw. Never saw Adam again after that war and Enoch only came back for awhile and then he was gone, someone said something about, “go west young man?”

“Got to pull my thoughts back in order now as living as long as I have, does have its times when my mind starts to dribble a bit, so pardon me if I ramble. Lets see,.... yes, that’s right, wood joints, pegs and Saint Nicholas. They tell me now that they put these new barns together with metal plates and machined spikes and nails, whatever will come next is beyond me. I’m a living barn, no rigidity here as I can move in the wind and adjust to the New England Seasons and political climates of social change. But then that’s my greatest asset as I am adjustable, while knowing where my strength comes from. I am made up of many bents, complete with purlins, plates, grits, posts, girders, joists and sills and many hand cut and chain sawn scarfs, half laps, mortise and tenons for joints and we are all one, and all one for all, held together by those tree nails.”

“Many times I have been moved, as I remember how often we barns were moved around back then and as always the first to come out were my wooden pegs. Whey the next time you take me apart examine some of those torn and ripped apart joints were I still bear the scars of cape storms. I know, that when you take me down and let me lay till barn raising day, the first task at hand, is starting with those wooden pegs as you pin me up again and I come back to life.”

“So the next time you drive by and admire me from without to within, as you examine the beauty of my hand hewn gunstock posts, while you run your hand along my girts, make sure you also pay attention to my tree nails as this is where my strength comes from. Seemingly hidden and to some unsightly, yes these are my character in the rough that makes me what I am.”

“Wow! You see, I almost did it again and forgot about Saint Nicholas, and where does he come into this story? Well right above that pair of girts, joined by those tree nails on that post hangs Saint Nicholas, and along with me, I can hear him wishing you all a Merry Christmas. From an old, but yet young English Barn passing on the Good News, may Peace and Good Tidings be yours today and every day as we give thanks, knowing that it is far better to give than to receive.”

One side note of interest is that when the English come over and see what we call old barns, they usually dismiss the notion of old and call them ‘urban renewal’.
Have a very good day!!!

-- --frank, NH,

2 comments so far

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4202 days

#1 posted 12-26-2006 06:10 AM

It’s a relative term, Frank. In my neck of the woods, anything over 100 years is old.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 4231 days

#2 posted 12-26-2006 03:31 PM

Hi Don,
Realitive is a term that is defined by thinking inside a box, in this case you have defined that box according to ‘your neck of the woods’ using the ‘100 year old rule’. When I talk of ‘urban renewal’, and I much prefer to say ‘urban re-new-all’ then I can no longer count my blessings any longer as they are too many! This last second is too old for me as I prefer to live in the now of the moment.

Now, when seen in this light I might say that ‘when the Englsih come here and call my English Barn as ‘urban renewal’ they are also defining from within the box of their own wonderful history and great country. However in New England, thats the joke among barn lovers as we showed when we went on and created the Yankee Barn as a better working barn after the English Barn. The biggest barn I still work in is when I step out of my box of a barn and work outside, with the eternal heavens above as my barn cupola and nature is my walls. And yet even in this definition I am thinking in a box and setting my definition of what is realitive. Science is even now overturning Einstein’s theory of time, space and continuum as the fields of Quantum Physics are now being opened and explored. As you can see I have left box thinking and all its definitions.

Have a very good day!!!

-- --frank, NH,

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