The Roofing News



Happy Thanksgiving, gang. And my apologies, this post is a day late. As you read this, pretend it’s yesterday:

As I gaze out the window at the rain/snow this Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving, it seems like an opportune time to post the latest barn roof news.

The morning’s pelting rain was present in the hayloft — familiar puddles that gather with every storm. But for the first time in years, the tack room was bone dry. Thanks to our Amish roofing crew.

Well, not “a crew.” It’s just a guy. One Amish guy.


John says he’ll bring reinforcements after Thanksgiving and the wedding season. In the meantime, he’s a one-man act.

But he’s astonishingly industrious.

And that’s after a punishing commute — 2 1/2 hours from his home in Pennsylvania. A five-hour roundtrip every day.

Of course John doesn’t drive, because he’s Amish.

(And let me interrupt to address the perplexities of this religion. John doesn’t operate a car because Amish don’t use modern technology. Yet, he has a cellphone. I don’t get that: Amish shun technology, but cherry-pick some modern conveniences. How does that work? Why is it acceptable to use a power drill, but not a zipper? And you can’t drive a car but you can ride in one? So many questions I’m itching to ask. But I don’t want to treat John like a side show.)

Whatever. The point is, John doesn’t drive. A guy named “Mike” drives him around.

And that’s the odd thing about Mike: he doesn’t do anything, except drive John to and from the job site. Sometimes Mike hands up supplies, or retrieves a tool from the truck. But most of the time he stands around like a sentry. (Which of course begs more questions: How much do you get paid to drive someone around? How is that economically feasible given gas prices? And while you’re standing around, how about you do a project for us? There’s plenty to share.)

But I don’t ask Mike anything.

He stands and watches John. I do, too.


Watching John is mesmerizing — he’s got a slow, methodical pace.

He tears off a section of roof like a strip of taffy, checks the framing, then covers the gap with a fresh metal sheet. He’s never rushed or hurried, yet he makes solid progress. The tack room, mouse house and connecting breezeway are done.

Now all that remains is the big bite: the 80-foot long, Dutch, gambrel dairy barn roof.

Replacing that will require a stretch of good weather. And a crew, not just John.

And they may have to hurry.