Cold

There’s a reason they call it the construction season. Around here it lasts from sometime in May (the end of mud season) until the onset of snow. Only a fool tries to do major outdoor construction out of season.

That makes us fools. Snow came late to Vermont this year, but the crew continues to work, and the inefficiencies are stacking up like firewood piles. First of all, given the wet weather and the sensitivity of our cellulose insulation, we end every day with an hourlong ordeal of buttoning up the structure with protective plastic, then spend another half hour every morning to take it off again.

A more insidious factor is the cold. Ben gave me a thick pair of Kinco gloves which do a great job of staving off numb fingers… but at the expense of dexterity. I’ll reach into my tool belt, pray my fingertips catch on a screw, then try to hold it steady in my left hand while I squeeze the drill with my right. Sometimes I’ll cast off the gloves in frustration and get my job done fast before it stings. (The REALLY cold days are off; some folks make up for them on the weekends.)

There is more than just a physical limitation; it’s also mental. When you’re uncomfortably cold you lose focus easily and put less care in your craft. And let’s not forget the pain of scraping ice off of lumber before you can use it.

We protect as much of that lumber as we can with sheds we built. One is freestanding, with built-in shelves to stack the boards neatly. Another leans against a shipping-container storage unit. Both have corrugated metal roofs, which we cut to length using a circular saw fitted with a grinder-type blade.

I’m particularly proud of a roof I built over the shipping container doors to prevent snow from piling there. It’s not actually fastened to the container, but it sits on top, with long beams running back to act as counterweights. I can do pull-ups on the roof and it doesn’t budge!

But in general, I’m not a fan of doing skilled labor outside in the cold. Power to the carpenters who do work through the winter and still make a quality product. We have several of them on this jobsite.

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Buttoned up for another night.

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