The weather can be brutal here in the Land of Four Seasons. Strong gusty winds mixed with precipitation and cold make outdoor chores challenging.
The animals, however, are rarely a concern for us. The goat barn and hen house are very secure against the freezing cold or extreme heat.
The goat barn we refer to today was built in 3 phases. All 3 phases were suitable, warm and safe shelters for our goats.
Used horse shelters worked nicely for this project.
Location is very important. Both the large front door and the side door needed to be visible from the house. We have strived to make as many of the doors on outbuildings visible from the house. Without making a trip down to the buildings, we can see if the building is open. This is a good cheap security measure.
Natural sunlight is a free resource for warming the shelter in the winter. Taking advantage of the sun, the barn door faces south, slightly SW. Plexiglass panels were placed in the opening just below the roof. The plexiglass panels block the wind while allowing free passage of sunlight to warm the barn.
Consideration was given to the need to have grazing areas on 3 sides of the goat barn when it was completed. The barnyard needed to be large enough for a truck to bring in feed and supplies.
Keeping animals large or small, "smell" was also a consideration. Keeping the shelters clean helps to lessen the barnyard odor but will not eliminate it completely. Needing the shelter close to the house for convenience meant that it needed to be angled so that the odor would be carried away from our home on the average breezy day.
Knowing we would be raising additional goats in the near future, we needed to build a shelter that could be enlarged easily.
Meeting all of our needs, this is what we started with.
A used horse shelter and other materials we had on hand.
A 12' gate layered with metal, is pulled across the front of the shelter. This provides protection from the weather and wild animals. The yard is enclosed with one 12' gate, three 6' chain link panels and a walk through gate.
Pulling back the 12' gate revealed a 3' x 8' storage area next to the stall.
The storage area stayed dry enough to store hay covered with a tarp.
The shelter stall is 8' x 8'. The entrance gate to the stall is on the back wall to prevent wind, rain and snow from getting into the stall when entering. One single hay rack is mounted on the outside of the fence. An opening was made in the fence large enough for the goats to eat from the feeder. The hay rack can be filled without going into the stall. Hay racks are a good investment, as they reduce the amount of waste due to hay falling on the ground.
Stage two was by far the most practical arrangement for the goat barn. A second horse shelter was set up next to the the original shelter. A rolling door was then added. After fighting the wind for 9 years we decided to spend the money to install a rolling door. The track the door hangs on was not cheap. We purchased the framing lumber. The rest of the material we already had.
Angles were used in the layout of the stalls. Angles provided the best use of the space while making it easy to care for the goats.
The 12' gate that had been used as a sliding door in stage one was incorporated in the design of stage two. Using heavy duty hinges, the gate was hung on the east side of the barn. It made up the entire east wall. In nice weather it could be opened all of the way. The feature was fabulous! It kept the barn fresh and airy.
A Homesteader's Dilemma
The structure was 11' x 16', 176 sf. The county we live in limits structures to 120 sq. ft. without a county inspection. "Insight from hindsight" ~ When we went to the County for an inspection the county wanted "us" to hire a general contractor to inspect the building first, "at our cost", and to have the inspector submit plans. The county would not simply send in inspector to verify that this was a structure consisting of manufactured horse stalls. The process the county was requiring would have cost more than the entire project.
Homesteaders learn quickly to find options for the obstacles they face. Obstacles however slow you down. We knew that county codes required structures to be 6' apart. Working with advice we had received from a county inspector a few years prior, we started working on "Stage Three". Wanting this to be the final change and comply with county codes, it required more ingenuity to come up with a design.
The structure now needed to have a 6' breezeway. Both ends of the breezeway needed to be secured to protect the goats from predators and the elements. However, the openings could not be attached to either one of the horse shelters. Also, the breezeway could NOT have a roof.
We made sure to meet all of our original requirements in Stage three, the final plan.
Closing the ends will not be difficult. Incorporating a county inspectors advice from the past, the rolling barn door had not been attached to the previous barn. The rolling door is freestanding. The north side of the breezeway will be secured with a gate on which metal siding will be placed on top of the chainlink to keep the wind and wet weather out. The gate on the north side will be mounted on a post, free standing. Both of the gates are completely freestanding.
The barn door was not wide enough to cover the width of the breezeway (which we made 6 1/2' wide). We constructed a fence made of the same metal. The fence like the barn door and gate does not attach to the horse shelter. The edge of the fence was not safe for goat shelters and this was remedied by placing a length of smooth metal ridge cap over the end. We also did the same with most of the corners on the structure. This fence gives the appearance of one long wall, while complying with county codes.
Taking advantage of the 120 sf regulation for each unattached horse shelter, We widen the east section by 2'. making the area 11' x 10', 110 sf,.
Repositioning the roof was the difficult challenge.
It could not be safely accomplished without the help of a neighbor and his tractor.
Homesteaders strive to handle their needs independently. It is not so much an independent thing as many people think. For us, we know how busy we are and asking others to stop and help us when they are just as busy is a hard thing to do.
With this roof we had used leverage to safely bring it up on the shelter. Now we needed to slide it backwards 6 1/2' and rest it directly on top of the pipe brackets.
The roof rested on the bucket of the tractor and was brought slowly backwards. The posts were held steady with chains.
Below, the photo presents the illusion that the east shelter is lower than the west shelter. This is because the shelter is 2' wider on the east side. At the center of the breezeway the angle is even.
One good thing that comes out of doing a project over is the improvements that can be worked in. When we widened the east shelter 2', it created a 2' opening in the metal roof. Instead of using metal sheeting to extend the roof, clear roofing material was used. This small area covered in the clear roofing material is a fantastic feature. If a trap is stretched over the breezeway, the natural light is greatly reduces. The small area let's sunlight into the structure on the eastside beginning at dawn each day.
This photo was taking on a cold cloudy morning.
The sunlight can be seen coming through the clear roofing material.
The open breeze way is beneficial in the warm months. It provides ventilation and keeps the barn fresh. In winter we experimented with methods to cover the opening. A commercial grade AG tarp works the best.
Having the extra space in the goat barn is worth the inconvenience of stretching a tarp in wet weather. The area is very open and offers ample room for storage. We like it.
Snow enters the area when people do.
Warm drinking water is being provided.
This adjustable stall set up let's us change the size and number of stalls easily.
Hanging all of the stall gates on the center post allows them to swing in both directions. This makes it possible to change the stall arrangement without moving the existing gates. The open breezeway is 6 1/2' x 11'. The breezeway can be converted into a stall by moving one 5' goat panel. This is accomplished using welded goat panels that are rigid.
Gates, feeders, and water containers are positioned for easy access. Climbing logs and tiny shelters with climbing tops are arranged in the stalls. These items create space. Additional area for the goats. Goats love to play when young.
The gate for the east stall can swing outward. This allows the stall to open directly to the small paddock when the exterior barn door on the east side is open.
The exterior swing door on the east side of the goat barn was another well thought out feature. Wind blows consistently from the west and extremely strong south winds are common. The swing door fulfills two needs; first the goats may be outside in the paddock area while having access to the barn and second, it provide us a nicer entrance when the south wind blows. Should we get a snow deep enough that we would need to dig free the front rolling door, we would have the option of entering through the side door instead.