Raising the Ell

Last week was a whirlwind. Not only did we process our meat birds and construct and assemble our house sill system, but we also raised the ell and sheathed its roof before this week of rain.

We started the ell raising on Monday, assembling the bents (walls) and connecting them with the massive 8x8 tie beams. Because of the need to resolve final details and to make minor adjustments, it took us the better part of a day to raise the first floor. My family was assisted by Mike, Nevan, and Nevan’s partner Jessie. No machinery required – just a rope, a few pike poles, and a pair of ladders. And muscle. Lots of muscle.

The rafters went up on Wednesday and it required fewer hands. Julia held the rope for good measure but Mike, Nevan, Eden, and I easily stood the rafters into place. We got the purlin pegs driven and the ends cut flush so that Eden could climb to the ridge to tack the ceremonial whetting bush. That moment is always such a joyous relief. We ended the day walking the 36'-long 8x8s down the driveway to the house site so that Mike and Nevan could work on the sills while my family was busy processing our chickens on Thursday. They got the sill joinery mostly completed in one day.


On Friday, Mike and I washed and installed the roof sheathing (original to the building) while Julia, Nevan, and our friend John Sherman chopped the remaining mortises in the house sills. Once they were done, we assembled the sills on the granite foundation. These were hefty timbers that required careful teamwork to manage safely and effectively. I spent a good part of Saturday finishing the last 1/4 of the roof sheathing and tar paper and stood back to admire it as I felt my last bit of adrenaline evaporate. What a rush.


This week we have mercifully been gifted rain, and I couldn’t be happier. I need a bit of time to recover. There are many things I’ve left undone from last week, and I need pick myself back up off the floor.

There’s more to do before snow, but not too much more, thankfully. We’ve been strategizing about how to best button up the work site for the winter – wall sheathing on the ell and capping the house sill. And I have to get started on my Issue Fourteen article soon…


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