A lot has happened since we last posted about our goat shed construction. We’ve had word that the first of our reserved doelings was born on Sunday night, and we can’t wait to meet her. We’re also crossing our fingers for a doeling from the next doe we have a reservation on, and that doe is on kidding watch now. Needless to say, there’s more excitement in the air here than the night before Christmas!
Back to the barn’s progress though. We left off last time with a view of the barn partially sided, and tarped due the intermittent rain showers.
Lucky for us the last couple of weeks the weather has been tremendously cooperative for February. As much as the gardens have been desperate for rain, we’ve been so grateful that the real wet weather held off until today. It finally rained this morning, almost 2 inches since midnight, but most of what’s left to finish on the barn is inside, where it’s warm and dry, so we can wrap that up later this week, rain or shine.
We’ve actually accomplished quite a lot in a few short weeks. After prepping the site and pouring the foundation at the beginning of February, we quickly moved on to framing out the structure.
Since then we’ve completed the siding installation, including some rather fiddly pieces along the gable wall ends, and we’ve installed the redwood gable wall vents.
I just love how these look, so much more attractive than the metal vents.
It’s always interesting to see how quickly the framing goes up on any structure, but then how slowly the rest of a building such as this seems to come together. What looks relatively simple and straightforward on the surface, actually takes a lot of time to put together.
Part of the roof framing was complete when we last posted, but we also needed to frame out the roof over the deck, which is connected to the main roof.
In this picture we noted that the front rafter tails were truncated to accommodate the deck roof. It looked a bit lopsided, but now you can probably see there actually was a method to our madness.
This broken-back style of roof as it traverses over the deck makes the roof line a little more interesting. It also doesn’t block as much sun from entering the face of the barn as a steeper roof pitch might. Aesthetics aside, it’s functional too. By shallowing out the slope of the roof we increase the vertical clearance underneath, and eliminate the risk of a self-inflicted concussion when approaching the barn from up slope.
This last weekend, with some extra help, we finally managed to finish the roof installation. The plywood roof deck went down, leaving notches at the ridge for ventilation under the ridge cap. A layer of tarpaper was laid down over the sheathing, followed by the metal roof panels.
With some minor roof framing modifications, we could have installed the metal roofing directly over the roof rafters (we did do that over the deck), but metal roofing can be deafeningly loud during heavy rains, so we opted to install the plywood underneath for a little sound deadening inside the barn.
Also, the type of roofing we chose has a number of ridges and valleys across each sheet, which makes blocking rodents from entering under the roof eave more challenging. The foam strips you can buy to block those gaps are like caviar to rats and mice, and simply don’t last, so although the plywood was an extra installation step, it will be worth it just to keep the woodland creatures at bay.
Of everything we’ve done during the construction of this shed, this task, officially, was my least favorite part of the entire project. Cutting the metal roofing panels. Even with a power sheet-metal cutter, trimming these 8 ft x 3 ft roof panels was a royal pain in the derrière, to say the least. Sheet-metal cutters are designed to cut FLAT sheets of metal, and the peaks and valleys in these Galvalume® panels made trimming these panels to fit more than a little challenging, not to mention the cut ends were lethally sharp!
With perseverance though, the panels for the front side of the barn, and the deck roof, were finally all trimmed to length, with no fingers harmed, and the last of the roof was installed (in the dark, under the glow of headlamps), along with the ridge cap, well in advance of today’s storm. I’m happy to say, the roof IS watertight, as it has been tested with plenty of rain since midnight!
In between roof framing and installation, the fence installers had begun the herculean task of fencing in a secure day yard, on less than ideal terrain. They couldn’t begin this part of the project until the height of the roof over the (as yet unbuilt) deck was established. We couldn’t work on the barn while the installers were building the enclosure.
As important as the barn is for keeping the goats safe from predators, it’s only half of the equation. We can’t keep the goats locked up in the barn all the time just to keep them safe. They need fresh air, and sunshine, but in a secure area where curious coyotes, and boisterous bobcats, can’t get to them. At night, we need to ensure that the goats don’t become haute cuisine for the local Mountain Lion population too.
After discussing our fence requirements with the installers, we worked together to design and install an enclosure to help keep the goats safe from all the predators that wander through the farm, day or night.
Our two priorities were that we could walk inside the enclosure without banging our heads on the roof, and that IF a predator should succeed in climbing the fence, and stand on the roof, that it can’t fall through into the enclosure. Mountain Lions have been known to scale 15 foot vertical fences, but we had NO intention of installing a fence that high, so the only logical solution was to cover the entire enclosure. It’s not cheap to build a covered enclosure, but it’s very effective, and for us it’s worth it for the peace of mind.
In fact, at a recent Mountain Lion informational forum at the University of California, Santa Cruz, conducted by professor Chris Wilmers, it was pointed out that although humans don’t need to be unnecessarily alarmed about the presence of lions, professor Wilmers advised goats owners to consider keeping their goats in a “fully-enclosed mountain lion-proof structure“. This is as much for the well-being of the lions, as the goats. In my personal opinion too many lions are depredated each year as a result of livestock kills that could have been prevented, but I digress.
We’re fairly certain that our variable terrain gave the fence folks a few ulcers, but they were very creative, and efficient, and have now finished the enclosure. Most of the enclosure is 7 feet high, providing plenty of clearance for us, although part of the enclosure runs closer to 8 feet in height, but this was because the slope drops off on the far side of the barn, and we needed to keep the barn ‘windows’ INSIDE the covered area.
We have a couple of areas left to tweak once the deck is installed, to ensure that predators can’t dig under where there’s a sudden change in grade, but other than that, the enclosure is finished!
Meanwhile, back at the barn, I was busy constructing the shutters for the windows.
As we mentioned last time, we’re not using traditional glass windows.
Instead we’ve constructed vented openings, and are using shutters to help regulate air flow in the barn.
These were quite simple to put together, using expanded metal sheets for the ‘windows’.
The sills are trimmed in redwood, as it will be resistant to moisture.
Shaping the edge of the window sills was a perfect excuse to break out the router.
The shutters were installed with a top hinge, and can be propped open as needed.
The barn’s dutch door is also finished, and the hinges will be installed tomorrow once the rain finally moves on.
In our ‘spare time’ we also put together one of the goat’s sleeping benches for the barn. I suspect we’ll be making more of these, probably at various heights, as they’re so easy to construct.
The goats can use them either in the barn for sleeping, or outside as play structures, in addition to the various stumps and rocks we’ll add to the goat yard for them to climb on.
In addition to building the barn, and getting the yard fenced, we’ve also had to take the time to source, and stock up on, other goat supplies…like these gate panels for inside the barn,
and stall mats.
Finding various feeders, like this one for feeding loose minerals,
…and hay feeders.
We’ve also added a stanchion. This compact model was especially designed for dwarf goats, and easily folds flat for taking to shows. Eventually this will be used as our milking stand, but we figure it’s never too soon to acclimate the goats to the concept of a stanchion.
Of course, we also needed to be sure we had at least a few of these around too!
This week we’ll need to stock up on bedding straw, and hay, and next time we show you the barn, the inside should be finished, the last of the trim will be stained, and the deck installed.
Hopefully we’ll have some baby goats to show you too! We can’t wait…stay tuned!