Ralph Dearborn, Raleigh, Blue Ridge Electric
The contents of my shed are nothing special – yard tools, outdoor toys, nearly empty paint cans, remnants of past projects, and assorted “I might need this someday” stuff. The real story is how this structure came to be my shed without anyone getting hurt.
In 1997 my wife Jerrie and I bought a vacation home in the Chestnut Creek development near West Jefferson. Since the developer’s vision was to reconstruct a community of hundred-year-old log cabins with modern amenities, he turned a flatbed trailer into a small log cabin to use as a mobile sales office. When we arrived on the scene, the developer was no longer actively marketing property and the trailer was parked at the entrance to the neighborhood.
Good Idea: “Let’s buy the trailer to use as a storage shed.” So we negotiated a sales price – as-is, where-is, of course.
Bad Idea: “Why don’t we dismantle the steps and just pull the trailer up to our house with our SUV?” As we were working on the steps, two friendly strangers with a big pickup truck stopped to inquire about a cabin for rent, leading Jerrie to propose . . .
Good Idea: “You may use our cabin sometime if you will pull this little house up to our lot.” Despite the fact that one of the trailer’s four tires was completely off the rim, that big ol’ truck did the job.
Within an hour the trailer/shed was nestled at the edge of the woods, looking right at home. After the obligatory photograph and exchange of phone numbers and promises to stay in touch, our helpers departed for parts unknown.
Bad Idea: “We don’t want to just leave the trailer parked in the yard. Why don’t we take the axles off, remove the tongue, and set the trailer bed on blocks?” So over the next few days, equipped with some cinder blocks and a couple of jacks, Jerrie and I scrambled under the trailer and took off the wheels and axles.
Really Bad Idea: “That thing doesn’t look right sitting up high on those blocks. I’ll just lower one corner at a time until it is close to the ground.” So with a tongue jack, a hydraulic jack, lots of enthusiasm, and little sense, I proceeded to lower the thing a little at a time, adjusting the stacks on the corners as I went. The cause of the ensuing excitement remains a mystery - a faulty jack, soft ground, or (more likely) operator incompetence. Whatever happened, the house, as with a mind of its own, tipped over and fell on its side. Yikes!
I was extremely fortunate to not end up under the shed, a la the wicked witch in “The Wizard of Oz.”
So, whom do you call to upright a log cabin that is lying on its side? I talked with crane operators, mobile home installers, house movers, all of whose initial reactions were “Say what?” With great humiliation I tried to explain the situation on the phone, knowing that folks would have a hard time understanding – or believing – what had happened. Finally, David Bare of Bare Brothers House Movers came to my rescue. With some log chains wrapped around the shed, and the gentlest touch one can muster with a front-end loader, he set that cabin upright just as if he did it every day!
Thank goodness the story has a happy ending, with a unique shed and nothing hurt except my pride.