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OK, not troubling – but sort of a pain to cross unless you have rubber boots on.

The wet, warm December has kept us working in the pasture pretty regularly and now that our fence is up that means a lot of walking if you need to get from one side of the pasture to the other without getting wet.

It was raining hard but was over 50 degrees so I decided what the heck – I’ll build a bridge. It wasn’t the best conditions to undertake this project but we have to make do with what we get on weekends now that it’s dark when we get home from work.

This post isn’t about how to build a bridge as it is the ability to recycle material on the farm. Our homestead, like many, is on comparatively small acreage carved out of what was once a much larger dairy farm. The prior residents stopped farming almost 30 years before we bought the place but left up the three barns and a corn crib that were on the property. Sadly, they weren’t very well maintained and were mostly a place to dump junk or store forgotten-about projects. However, the high-quality lumber and construction of these older buildings means they still have more to give. I was able to construct the whole bridge without purchasing anything except a box of large framing nails.

The trestle is two original beams from the haymow that were replaced when a storm took the roof from the dairy barn in the 70s. When the old supports were removed they were laid next to the barn (fortunately on the rock foundation and under an awning). They have some rot, but are more than capable of providing support for a foot bridge for people and small livestock.

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Didn’t struggle too much getting these in the truck. Just lifted them up one end at at time.

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You can still see the mortise and tenon joints on the beams. True craftsmanship. Despite being dressed like I was on a chain gang, I enjoyed this project and would do it again.

The deck is the floor from our old corn crib. The floor had collapsed but only half was in the dirt. The section that remained elevated was still in decent shape and I was even able to remove it and realign the tongue and grooves. I only needed about 4 feet in width, so I managed to get two boards out of each one. In the middle of the bridge I used a piece of board that had been nailed to the side and was almost like knew – so where it counts the most, the bridge is very sound.

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A little damp on top, but the boards were solid in the middle.

It looks old and rustic but I kind of prefer it (and even cut the boards at varying lengths for that effect. So, I was able to use some “trash” and saved us from having to walk up the driveway to enter the east side of the pasture.

 

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Not the best photo – it was dark when i finished. Still work to be done, too. Will update again when fully finished.

When purchasing or renovating your homestead, never dismiss what might come in handy later. If you’re building something that will ultimately be rained on, crapped on or is temporary, use the wood you have sitting around. I also use screws on many projects so if it’s a piece I won’t need again, I can take it apart and reuse the lumber.

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