Raising the Roof...

Posted on March 11, 2018 by LaVonne Debois
Raising the Roof...

If you were to think of 4 or 5 attributes that make up the Amish Culture, one would have to include the importance of helping the community in the form of a barn raising.

Barn raisings take place once a structure, house, barn, business or property was destroyed by fire, wind, or other circumstance.  Barn raising usually are scheduled within 30 days of the loss.  Planning and purchasing of supplies takes hours, however, this method has been practiced for many years and has been taught by each upcoming generation.  Like any culture, things change.

On March 5, 2018, I observed a barn raising near Farmerstown, Ohio.  It has been about 6 years since my last barn raising.  I was expecting hundreds of men and boys accomplishing their assigned tasks.  I arrived bright and early at 7:00 A.M. hoping to find a good spot to watch from.  I must say, I was surprised on what I did not see.

The sun was shining, and to my estimate, perhaps there were 200 people beginning the day long process.  I found a great parking place to watch from.  This was a large working dairy farm that was destroyed by fire.  The size of it according to a facebook friend who saw my pictures even thought it looked like a new, large hotel.

Within 45 minutes, the roofing crew had already had 7 trusses in place.  What I noticed to my surprise was the use of a crane.  I don't recall seeing a crane used before to lift the trusses.

Watching the workers, it was easy to observe, this was not their first "rodeo."

Hammers were swinging without the interruptions or notifications from a cell phone, and nothing mattered except getting the job done.  Once enough trusses were in place, the next crew lifted boards up in order to put the roof on.  Teamwork at its finest.

One activity that does not get in the limelight is the amount of work that is taking place in the neighbors kitchens.  Wives of the workers know a successful barn raising wouldn't be complete without a hearty meal at noon.  One lady I talked to was in charge of making the stuffing.  I'm sure the smell of baked chicken and creamy mashed potatoes was wetting the appetites of hard working cooks!

In this photo, you can see to the right that another truss was being lowed in place.  Each step was carefully and accurately completed.  I noticed young boys helping as much as possible in ways that allowed their participation to be important.  Young girls arrived to help serve the meal also took time to observe the hard work of the men.

When they were ready for more boards, another "big rig" made it possible to save time by bringing in a large load.  Years ago, we would not have seen this.  When I think of the changes, we need to realize not as many families make a living at farming.  The majority of the men work in the furniture industry and only 8% make a living at farming.  This also makes it difficult to take off a full day when you already have a full time job elsewhere. 

As I was watching, an Amish gentleman approached my car and asked if I was a "local resident."  They take notice of onlookers and don't hesitate to start a conversation.  As we talked, I made the comment, "Things sure are being done different these days."  His reply was, "They have to change."  I understood and so did he.  Yes, the culture is keeping to its strong hand of helping others, yet, there are changes in how things are being done. 

Yes, there are changes in how we do things, but the love of helping mankind has remained intact.