When I got to the barn with the shovels, JG was in a right state. He had opened the main sliding doors on the big building and found that the support beams in the whole front half of the building had broken. The roof was in imminent danger of caving in. I tore back to the house and grabbed the phone and started phoning neighbours to ask for shovellers. By the greatest stretch of good luck, one neighbour arrived for a visit just as I was phoning. He took one look a the situation and whipped up the ladder, dress shoes and Sunday clothes and all, and started shoveling. I got our car out and went to his place to collect his boots and work clothes and his teenaged son and daughter, both strong agile kids, to help. A third son, who works in construction, turned up just as I was leaving and so he came too. I got back to find yet another neighbour pitching in and as I delivered the load of workers, the YD turned up.
A swarm of shovellers clambered onto the roof and started to dig in. The snow was set and stiff, as today was cold -- below freezing all day, in fact. Our ingenious neighbour quickly grabbed a saw and started sawing the snow into huge blocks which could then be rolled, gravity aiding, to the edge of the roof and dumped off. The kids set to clearing the annex roof and the main team sawed, shoved and heaved. When one set of neighbours had to leave for Easter dinner, the main part of the roof was pretty clear. The rest of the crew worked for about another hour, and the buildings are now safe.
Here are some shots of the event. I'm not sure the scale really shows in them, but it is a lot of roof and a lot of snow. By the end of the exercise the shovellers were able to walk off the roof and down the pile of snow blocks that had accumulated. And JG and I were extremely grateful and thankful to have such friends when we were in need.