We got a great deal on some young potted fruit trees from a local nursery going out of business last year, and they wintered in their pots – it’s time for them to find new homes! One of our challenges is that our chicken yard gets a LOT of sun in the summer, and their only shade structure is set in such a way as so offer very little actual shade when the sun it at it’s hottest. We wanted to find a way to take advantage of the open space in the yard (and the otherwise unusable steep hills that surround it), and also offer the birds some better shade… so we’re trying fruit trees!
The barn at the farm is a large fading blue pole barn, originally built with horse-sized stalls. Our goats and sheep are much more social, and a lot smaller, than horses, so these stalls were either too small for everybody or too big for one… basically, the barn was awkward to use and didn’t accommodate our herds very well, despite being quite large. We’ve discussed and planned for a long time, but this fall we finally got moving on the dream: re-doing the interior of the barn!
Our main goals are:
- Make the barn stalls more flexible and appropriately sized for our animals
- Get the goats out of the main barn aisle during the day
- Test and replace the posts holding up the loft: several have rotted out completely (who builds a barn over a drainage area and doesn’t use treated wood??)
- Tear out and rebuild the feed room to make an enclosed work space that won’t be as dusty!
- Move the water pipes underground and install water access inside the barn, with heated auto waterers (as much as I love hauling 5 gallon buckets of water in the winter…)
- And finally… add some more sheltered storage so we can clear out the carport in front of the shop for project space
First round of updates: the far NE corner of the barn used to have a double-wide loafing area, which we used as storage for wood after chopping down our massive trees last year, but finally cleared out into the new wood shed this summer. A divider went up to split the space back into two stalls, and an ingenious aisle gate was installed to turn the corner “stall” into a loafing area during the day… while also limiting access to the barn aisle while open. Yay!
The second half of the old loafing area was built into a single stall space with configurable dividers… it can be four stalls, or just one big one! Each stall has it’s own stall gate, and the middle ‘stall’ also acts as a thruway from the sheep stall (which has an outside sliding door to the lawn; useful because we move the sheep to the hill pasture from the barn daily from spring to fall). So excited to have these options when lambing/kidding season hits.
Nearly all this hard work has been the gift of John, who comes up almost daily and makes amazing progress while the Megan and Talina work at their day jobs. We feel so much safer walking around on the loft now that we know the posts aren’t literally just being held up by luck and a few nails…
Goals one, two, and three complete! The final target is to be done by Feb/March next year for the spring babies… so excited to see the next phase!