Tobacco fields. Source: Wikimedia

Dear Diary,

Friday was only a half-day on Wall Street. US stocks were flat.

But gold traders were active – selling gold!

The yellow metal lost nearly 1.8% of its value on Friday. And the big precious-metals miner stocks ETF, GDX, plummeted 8.7%.

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving was a success in the Bonner household. In Maryland, tobacco barns are falling down faster than World War II veterans. Your correspondent had planned to try to rescue one of them – using the strong backs of his sons, two of their friends visiting from France and our regular weekend helper, Fernando from Honduras.

We were all on the job Thursday morning.

Our old friend Tommy, who has made his living for the last 60 years in farming and earthmoving, stopped by to offer advice and encouragement.

“You puttin’ the hurtin’ on ‘em now,” he said, watching the young men with their shovels and post-hole diggers. “It’s good for them… toughen ‘em up.”

When the holes were prepared, we toted 300-lb treated poles and planted them around the inside perimeter.

Unskilled Labor

The idea was simple: transform a frame barn into a pole barn, supplanting the regular foundation with stout poles. The old upright oak posts had rotted at the sill. So we bolted the new poles to them.

The project was a challenge. First, because management didn’t know what it was doing. Second, because… except for Fernando… labor had even less experience with labor. And third, because we were all lost in polyglot jargon of the building trades.

We barely know the difference between a joist, a sill and a stud in English. Trying to communicate in three languages added an extra complication. All considered, if someone had called our crew “unskilled labor,” we would have been flattered.

Nevertheless, by the time we settled into our chairs for Thanksgiving dinner we were feeling confident. The plan seemed to be working.

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