One very impressive project, the neighbor’s barn roof, was completed this week. I assumed they’d put metal on it. But they went all out, with asphalt shingles- wow! I think it took the whole week to do this side. Here they are doing the final trimming of the edges on the widow’s peak fascia.

No biggie on the height there, eh? The worker men looked like ants up there, crawling around. It looks gorgeous now that it’s complete.

And, one slightly less profound accomplishment, I got the second floor coat finish done in our upstairs bedroom. Love that old growth fir!

The old barn across the street from us is getting re-roofed. I’m not sure when this barn was built, but I think sometime in the early 1900’s, as part of the Cedargreen (then, “Cedergren”) family homestead. I believe their original late 1800’s homestead had a different wood barn, so I think this brick-bottomed, fancy one came later.

(more…)

I’m moving up in the world this year! I have always fed my sheep hay on the ground during the short winter duration when we have to feed. Lots of people do this, and it’s often the only practical means to deliver hay for very large herds of animals. Ruminants eat off the ground the rest of the year, after all.

But there are some downsides.

One is that it can increase their parasite load. Worm eggs come out in feces, and hatch into larvae that hang out low in forage, waiting to be re-consumed. Since sheep tend to poop in the hay and then pick around for leftovers in the subsequent days, they can pick up a lot of worm larvae. This can be remedied by increased de-worming, but that’s both cost-wise and labor-wise inefficient. And it accelerates the rate at which a particular de-wormer becomes ineffective.

The second downside of feeding on the ground is just waste. The sheep eat their meal, then bed down in the  comfy leftovers. The laid-on, pooped-on hay is no longer palatable, they refuse to eat it, and it goes to waste. Tight portion controls help with this, but when feeding lower protein hay, it’s ideal if the sheep have it in front of them 24/7, to be sure they eat enough. It’s tougher to feed them only twice a day and make sure they are taking in an optimal amount. Given their choice, my sheep will eat three or four times a day, starting very early in the morning.

And that leads to the third downside: feeding twice a day. Sheep fed on a schedule need to be fed at consistent times. So it’s very constraining to one’s lifestyle. You have to work dinner plans around feeding sheep, and have to get up early on weekends to maintain their early morning mealtime.

(more…)

I’ve been building sheep pens in the barn the last couple of weekends. These were my goals:

  1. “Hospital” stalls to house sick sheep that are too ill to be treated in the pasture, or that need to be quarantined
  2. A place for bummer lambs so they don’t need to be in the kitchen Smile
  3. A few jugs in case I wanted to pen up ewes and lambs that are having trouble (though my intention is not to jug as a standard practice)
  4. A place I could stick the whole herd if we had some really insane weather (but believe me, they won’t be getting this luxury on ordinary days)
  5. A chute system where I can weigh, treat, and sort sheep into two groups; all indoors, for my comfort, as well as to protect electronic equipment and other gear
  6. A place where sold sheep can hang out waiting to be picked up, so that it’s easy for people to pull up and load them
  7. Not fixed, so I can take the whole thing down and stack it when it’s not in use, or take panels outside to make temporary pens there

(more…)

FromPastureOur barn is closing in on the finish line. One of the big holdups was the plumbing permit. When we pulled the original building permit, the builder actually submitted the combination of engineering drawings and site plans that I had created. That was nearly a year ago. At the time, we didn’t really know the details of what we wanted to do with the plumbing, and they don’t have a regular plumbing contractor whom they use. So they left it to us to pull that permit separately and handle those details ourselves. That was fine.

(more…)

HayWhen we were planning the barn, I posed this question to every builder we interviewed: how do you know how to design the loft to be strong enough to support filling it with hay? I knew this was an important question. I’ve read and heard horror stories of people having barns collapse when loaded with hay.

(more…)

FromPasture

Here are some pictures of the barn metal siding going up. Now it’s really starting to look like a barn! We are in that inevitable stage that every building project hits- we are ready for it to be done. There are the early stages, where you oooh and ahhh over each little step- holes dug, poles in, roof taking shape, sides, windows, loft, stairs. And the first couple of panels of colored siding are certainly dramatic. But then, you crest over the edge of knowing what the whole thing is going to look like, there are no more visually dramatic steps left, just tedium of finishing this and that.

(more…)