Sometimes circumstance is unkind to young innocent homesteaders. Luckily in our case it was not ravenous wolves nor rampaging Sioux which plagued our first year on the land, it was unheard of rainfall, and I mean truly unheard of, even by our neighbors in their 80s…who had, “never heard no tell of such a wet summer, my poor rotted taters!”
Though I can not in any way vouch for the rottenness of their “taters” I can say we lost much time this year due to rain, and an adequately dry roof seemed just the thing to dry out sopping wet spirits…and possibly our moldy long johns as well!
I must make a small side step in some attempt at explanation of our roofing choice. Many who have followed our progress may wander at the selection of a metal roof on such a painstakingly period correct building as our workshop. To be honest I had every intention of going all the way with a proper Tudor thatch roof…until I found thatching quite hard to come by(in fact the only supplier I found gets their in from scotland at an understandably ridiculous price) which left us with either harvesting our own river cane, which does not grow much in the mountains locally, or wheat, which would be great had we grown it last year and had ready at hand…
The next obvious choice would be an oak shake roof over pole purlins. I really had every intention of going this route as well until I started hunting for the good sized straight oak logs to split. This proved both difficult and morally suspect…their not being much in the way of 100+ year old oak straight and knot free around our land, what is to be had, should it not be used in a more sustainable way? Would felling a 200 year old oak to produce shakes which may last 50 years make ecological sense? The general rule most observed and applied to sustainable forestry I have read goes, “A product made from a tree should last at least as long as that tree took to grow, preferably longer” So no shingles were out, or at least out until some horrid storm would give us the chance to salvage large logs which might be burned in someones wood stove!
So we were finally left with but few options, and the most practical and affordable seemed to be a metal roof over wood decking. As it turned out our neighbor did have a rather large Yellow Poplar fall in a summer storm, and he graciously gave us the wood to use.
Reclaimed rafters from a house built circa 1918…
with just a touch of the Jack plane…
give up their aged beauty to the light!
Bucking poplar for the roof sheathing
Sometimes rest is good for a man…
Nails reclaimed and reused from the same old house
Green poplar sheathing going up
Adding a bit of elegance
tarpaper goes on
Then some metal