Jesse Patch, one of SPACE’s artistic associates gives us a taste of the last three weeks at Ryder Farm. SPACE’s latest restoration project is nearing its finish line.   

In college, a coworker taught me how to change the oil in my car (all by myself!). It was about the closest I got to feeling like a Man while attending art school, and I held on to it dearly. I changed my oil precisely every 3 months or 3,000 miles. I offered to teach others how to do it. I brought it up in casual conversation, whether or not it was apropos to the present discussion.

Then I moved to New York City, and said goodbye to my car, and whatever vestige of manliness I pretended to have. Sure, I’ve been to professional sporting events and drank Budweiser. Yes, my roommate and I invite friends over on a bi-monthly basis to watch UFC on Pay-Per-View (Fight Night!). But I hadn’t had the experience that separates the Men from the other people with XY chromosomes: getting your hands dirty doing something.

My first day working to renovate the Corn Crib at Ryder Farm, I became fast friends with a three-foot long crowbar named Lumpy. While ripping up wood floors in the main room that had been laid down in the 50s, I fell in love again with the simplest of simple machines, the lever.

On my second trip to Ryder farm Lumpy and I got to work on the floorboards in the kitchen, working tirelessly for one goal; hearing wood groan, and then give way with a pop.

My third day, after an epic shopping spree at Home Depot, I spent the afternoon alternating between measuring the length of the beams overhead, and cutting strips of insulation to fit with jigsaw puzzle-like specificity into the ceiling of the kitchen.

The fourth day I came up, the Corn Crib had seen a massive evolutionary leap forward. The bathroom had been partitioned; linoleum had been laid; and a shower, toilet, and washer and dryer had been installed.

On the other side of the partition, our Zen Master foreman John Ryder and I got to work putting in a new counter and kitchen sink.

In the middle of the day when we took a break to make a run to Home Depot to restock supplies and materials, I spent the ride over thinking about how that small cabin was slowly transforming into a beautiful new structure in front of my eyes. Knowing that I had a small part in that, filled me a sense of pride I haven’t felt in years.

After acquiring everything on our To Get list, John and I rolled our behemoth cart piled six feet high with insulation, and sheetrock, and plywood, and paint, and replacement circular saw blades, and a battery of wood in various widths and lengths up to the register. The lady behind the counter said, “Do you see the fear in my eyes?” If a Home Depot employee is scared of the amount of raw materials I’m buying to build something, I did it. I’m officially a Man again.