Rob and The Farmhouse Beam

 
 
 

A delivery truck pulled into the farm. The driver leaned out of the window and shouted across to me that he was looking for Rob Warrington. “That’s easy”, I replied, “he’s the one in the shorts”. It’s mid November. Every minute or so south facing formations of geese pass overhead, the days are short and the wind is chilly at best. Rob is still wearing his shorts. He’s been the day-to-day foreman for our building works at Little Ghent Farm for the past few months. Most often the first to arrive and the last to leave, Rob always has a cheery, double-barreled “hello, hello” for everyone.

A few weeks back we found Rob installing a beam in the new farmhouse. We had sourced the beam from Raj, our friend and Columbia County neighbor. It performs an important structural and aesthetic role in the farmhouse – a centerpiece of sorts. “It’s got to be five hundred pounds heavy Rob estimates. He had to build a chain rig to create a ‘comealong’ winch in order to raise the beam high enough to then drop it down onto the posts we had sourced from our old barns at the farm. “It’s a beautiful, antique piece of lumber, most probably oak. I like to think about the guy who felled the tree. He woke up one morning, had breakfast with his family and headed out to work just like me but back then over a hundred years ago. And what about the barn it was in? It must have served a lot of different purposes over all those years. The beam could be reused over and over again. This is just its second life”.

Rob’s been in the construction business for more than twenty five years. “You never stop learning, it’s a constant roll”, he says,  “there’s never a day when you can say you’ve mastered it”. One of the things Rob enjoys most is discovering references to craftsmen in the old buildings he’s working on. “I’ve been on sites and seen names and dates of local people. We can ask around and find out about relations in the town today”. Inspired by this, Rob has developed his own ritual. “I write my name and the date in a few places no matter the site or job. Just somewhere that it will be seen if, down the road, someone’s removing a board or something. Perhaps in fifty years people will discover my signatures and think to find out about Rob Warrington” he adds, smiling broadly.

“I love the constant change” Rob concludes. “The new people I meet on the various jobs, the new techniques I see from all the different craftsmen and the conversations with clients and salespeople. A great job is one where I can do things I’ve never done because it’s not erect-a-set building. Some of the work on this job, like the beam for example, is not everyday stuff. That’s the best part”.

The Little Ghent Farm renovation has introduced us to an inspiring cross section of local craftsmen. It is easy to tell how engaged with the project someone is. You can see it in their eyes, the way they talk about their work and the attention to detail given to each task. We’ve been really fortunate to have so much talent and passion, like Rob, working on site over the past two years. In our vision we only wanted to work with people who understood what we are trying to achieve with the whole farm not just a part of it.  People who could build a connection with the place not simply perform a transaction.

Rob’s skillful touches and inspired ideas are present in each building on the farm. His talents are clearly many and various. One Friday afternoon he even helped us herd an escaped cow back into the field.  It clearly wasn’t his first time doing that and, yes, he was wearing his shorts on that day too.

 

Rob-006

 

 

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