October 18 of last year changed the Rettinger's lives forever. They learned several lessons, including that there are some things more valuable than material goods- like your life and heallth. A tornado ripped the roof off their house near Bourbon, wiped out their toolshed, tore up 90$% of their grain system, and flattened at least a hundred acres of corn. But when the twisting winds left, heading northeast to inflict even more damage on that October night, none of Herm Rettinger's family was injured. For that, he's grateful.
Within just a few days, Herm and his sons Jon and Joel learned another lesson- people will come to the rescue of good people. Even strangers they didn't know poured in to help, from clearing debris to helping get the rest of their corn crop out of the field. Even as the rebuilding process started, volunteers have showed up to provide labor to help put the broken pieces of their farmstead back together.
The decisions they've needed to make have been nearly endless, Jon reports. And his mother and father are still out of their house, staying elsewhere, while workmen finish rebuilding their house. But one of the first and most intense projects that has consumed Jon's time was planning for and seeing that a new shop and tool storage barn was erected.
Some think that it would be nice to start over and have a chance to build your dream shop from scratch. Jon can attest that if your chance comes thanks to disaster, it's not going to be as glamorous an opportunity as you imagined. "Decisions must be made quickly," he explains. "Our goal has been to get the shop back together as quickly as we can to get equipment under roof here on our own farm."
So while the Rettingers are erecting a larger, much different building that they had before as their shop and tool storage area, they haven't had time to sit and wait, study shop after shop and plan. Instead, they've needed to make decisions so that the work could go forward.
They were able to include some features they've heard others give high marks to in the past, including water-powered heat under the concrete floor. Rebuilding a larger building than what they had before, the concrete of the old building became the apron for the new one. And they decided to concrete the entire floor of the building while they were pouring concrete, even though they will only use the front portion of the shop.
They actually haven't tried the in-floor heat yet since construction is still underway. Space heaters have provided heat in late winter as they've continued working on the shop and storage area. They didn't put a dividing wall between the shop and area for tool storage, as some do. But they did leave the design as they poured concrete so they could add a wall later. They could also choose to hang a large curtain across to divide the area into two temporarily if they so choose.
"You've got to remember that we didn't have a lot of time to get this planned," Jon concludes. "We've done what we can as we can."
The Rettinger family was featured in the December issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer. Look for more information on their shop rebuilding process in an upcoming issue.