Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An adventure in rigging gutters

With the thawing snow yesterday we quickly learned that our sheep barn is less than perfect. I knew at some point it had gutters, but those had fallen off years ago and were wedged down under some brush by the side of the barn, overgrown and snowed on. Unfortunately due to the lack of gutters, when the snow began melting there was a constant downpour along the overhang of the barn. This downpour, combined with the snow on the ground, made a slushy muddy mess of the entrance to the barn and all I could picture was muddied fleeces and hoof rot. I know, I know... perhaps I'm a bit paranoid.

Anyway, despite having a very sore back yesterday I knew I had to fix the gutters as quickly as possible before the growing mud puddle could reach the sheep's stall where they often lie in the straw. I went out in the morning, before even tapping the maples, and proceeded to free the old gutters from their would-be graves to give them purpose again. I began reattaching them to the barn, using screws instead of nails in case I ever needed to pull them down again.

It wasn't until I was attaching the final section of the gutters that I noticed it was still dripping into the mud puddle. To my horror I realized that the years of rest had left the gutters rusted and full of pin-prick holes! Ugh!

I attached the final gutter and trudged back to the house, defeated.

This morning, however, I was struck with a fantastic idea. I needed a way to cover the holes at least until things dry up and I can caulk them. Originally I had thought duck tape (duck brand, not duct) but I knew that because the gutters were already wet this would be a frustrating and impossible endeavor. Then I thought about getting a caulk designed for wet application like pool tiles. Even if I could overlook the terrible toxicity of this stuff, none of it sets up below 40ยบ so there was no way it would work. Drat! It wasn't until I had vetoed at least three other ideas that it came to me.

Feed bags! Feed bags, on the shiny outer side, are heavily water resistant. If I nested them correctly, I could cut them into strips and line the gutters with them. Of course, I never thought this would really work...

Time will only tell how this holds up, and I'll have to see if I can find some used gutters on craigslist or something eventually, but this is certainly working for now! Hooray for improvisation!


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