The winter weather wager

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In recent months, Martin and I made a big decision:

We are sending the barn to college. So to speak.

Actually, we are replacing the barn roof, which will cost as much as a year’s tuition and fees at a private college.

What else could we fund with this kind of cash? A new car, an awesome kitchen renovation, a first-class trip around the world. Hell, Martin could buy a fleet of those army trucks he trolls for on Craigslist.

Instead, we’re funding an improvement for the horses, cats and occasional opossum. (See, I can joke now. I’m beyond the nausea-inducing sticker shock phase. Over the summer one contractor quoted twice the price of previous estimates, and I got a little woozy. Do you need to sit down? he asked, sympathetically. Our roofs are guaranteed for 100 years, he added. What did I care? I’d be dead then!)

Speaking of 100 years, that’s the age of the barn, and — aside from a few spots — the roof is original as well. Hence the need for replacement. Viewed from a distance, the roof doesn’t look too tragic. But the leaks are beyond patching. It’s not like a colander with visible holes. Instead, imagine cupping water in your hand: eventually it seeps through your fingers. That’s our roof, dripping at the seams.

After a decade of patch jobs, we are committed to renovation. The big question is “when”?

Our roofer can start in mid-November, a time that taunts winter storms. Precipitation and frigid temps could push the project to Christmas or beyond.

And our contractor mentioned another speed bump. “You know about the wedding season, right?”

I knew that our roofer is Amish. I didn’t know that Amish weddings are held strictly from November to early December, after the harvest, but before winter sets in. (And typically, weddings are celebrated on Tuesdays and Thursdays… now that’s a bite from the work week…)

So, late-fall construction is fraught with what-ifs. The alternative: a springtime build.

In the spring, the project would take just a couple weeks, avoiding winter and matrimonial distractions.

But a five month delay gambles on a season’s worth of bad weather. Any significant rain or snow would be problematic. And this is a possible El Nino year.

So that’s the debate. Do we wager that El Nino’s a bust and wait until spring? Or do we bet on a belated winter and an uneventful wedding season?

We’ve got a few days to flip a coin.

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See, it’s nice from afar…