April 25, 2016

Goat Barn: The Plan

Now that the old oak tree is gone and we're overrun with goats, it's time to get serious with our plans for a goat barn. After reviewing our pile of barn sketches and floor plans, we decided to build it in the same basic footprint as the original outbuilding, the one we used to call the coal barn (because our old house was originally heated with coal and that's where the coal was stored - photos here).

This is where the original building stood. The main part was
 on the right, the slab was an attached lean-to carport. The current
goat shed and tarp-covered hoop hay hut are back on the left.

One important consideration is hay storage and we've been discussing two options: on the ground level or in a loft. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. A one-story building would be faster and easier to build, but would take up more ground and mean more to roof. Not having to hoist hay or climb up to feed the goats is appealing as we get older. On the other hand, our barnyard area isn't very big so have a smaller footprint is a huge plus. It means we don't have to decide whether to take space for the barn from either the pasture or the driveway.

The plan we're leaning toward is this one. The sketches are rough and not to scale, but you'll get the idea.

Bottom floor. Hay will go over the goat part on the right, with a
chute to drop hay down into a hay feeder. Stairs will be outside.

The feed room will go where the concrete slab is, with a milking room behind. The goat part will be to the right of that. I really like this plan because it resolves issues I've had with our small goat shed. The feed room will be where I can store our equipment and process grains and feeds. I get both an in and an out door for the girls which will help with traffic flow for milking. The barn area is big enough for a full house of does and kids, with room for three small kidding stalls. I also have to say that being able to drop hay down a chute into an open, dual-sided hay feeder, rather than carrying hay through a mob of goats, is extremely appealing. A wide doorway will allow goats in and out without dominant goats defending the barn and keeping others out.

Rough sketch of the front. Double sliding doors for the feed room,
and a Dutch (stable) door in front to check on goats without having
to enter the barn. It will be wide enough for the wheelbarrow. 

My idea for the stairs. We decided against a traditional ladder to
the hay loft, because as we get older stairs seem a better option.

The plan is still in the discussion stage, and while we discuss we're clearing the area, moving things that have to be moved, collecting materials, and getting tools ready. Moving the location of the goats will also mean rearranging fences and gates, so we've also been discussing how to update our Master Plan. More on all that here:

39 comments:

  1. Oh, it's wonderful! Love all the features, so well thought-out. How fun it will be to see your progress!
    -Jaime

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    1. I'm glad, though, to have lived with a make-do goat shed for so long. It really helped with the layout and ideas for traffic flow. I hope I don't create any unforeseen surprises!

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  2. I glad to hear I am not the only who gets mobs by goats when food is involved, your layout looks fab at some point we will be rebuilding so I will be watching your with interest

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    1. I plan to make feeding stations in the new barn with a clip at each station to secure to each goats' collar. I understand that once they learn where their spot is and think they can't go anywhere until everyone is done, they behave much better!

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  3. So excited for you! Will you run water to the site. Or...? Also wonder how you decided the feed area should go on the slab instead of the parlour?

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    1. In every plan so far that slab has been my milking room. It just seemed logical because it's a good size and has a concrete floor. Dan suggested doing something different with it because that slab is not well poured. It's very rough with ridges and bumps, not to mention uneven. He told me he'd put a level paver floor in a milking area for me, so I agreed. The concrete will be good, however, for equipment storage and as an area for shelling corn, for example. There will be room for some large drying racks for my vitamin and mineral mix plus feed storage barrels. Being at the front, it will be easy to unload and store there. I couldn't see it before, so I'm glad he talked me into it. :)

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    2. Jewlz, you also asked about water. We've talked about several options. One is to run a line to a spigot outside the barn for water, the other is a rainwater catchment system. Those are both still under discussion.

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  4. You're going to have a lovely barn :)

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    1. I think so, even though it looks a lot bigger on paper than marking it on the ground, LOL

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  5. That barn is going to be wonderful once it's done.

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  6. You guys always think things through so thoroughly & I'm sure the barn will be very effecient for your enjoyment.

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    1. I find that being able to think things through relies heavily on experience. Some things you just can't plan for unless you understand the nature of the critters!

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  7. When I first started reading this and your debate about one or two floors, my initial thought was two floors with stairs instead of a ladder. I'm glad that is what you came up with. From what I've seen among old farmers around here, it that the ability to carry heavy bales of hay through a barn while being swarmed by animals goes away much sooner than the ability to climb a flight of stairs. Plus, two story barns just look more attractive. I can't wait to see this project progress!

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    1. Thanks Ed! I appreciate your thoughts and feedback. The being swarmed gets old in a hurry.

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  8. Could you use a pully system to get the hay up to the second floor and also down instead of carrying?

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    1. Certainly, although the drop chute into the hay feeder is by far the simplest. Even so, this only takes care of the does. I still keep a couple of bucks in a separate shelter, so hay will still have to be carried to their hay feeder.

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  9. I like the stairs idea. You are so wise to be planning ahead for when you are older. We are going through trying to make things easier now! Nancy

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    1. Well, we're trying! I only hope we can get it all in place before we're too old to do it, LOL

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  10. Looks like a great plan! I think I will steal your idea to load the feeder from above.

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    1. Glad you like it Perry. The drop chute feeder is actually a very old idea, found in many old barns. We just borrowed the idea from them. :)

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  11. Yes, so, so wise to live with your land and animals for a while before making permanent decisions and building structures! Things can look so perfect on paper, but so very different in the actual day-to-day living.

    I wonder if a ladder inside the barn up to the hay loft was so prevalent because the farms/barns were in the north where an outside staircase is covered with snow/ice for half the year? The elements are always a consideration for us up north.

    Are you required to get a building permit for all of your new structures?

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    1. One advantage of not having much money is that it forces you to make do and thereby learn a lot. If we'd built the barn before we got the goats I would have been wanting to re-do everything right about now!

      I think the ladder to the hay loft is traditional everywhere. In most of my earlier design plans, I put the stairs inside, but we moved them outside mostly to save space on the inside.

      And of course we get a building permit. How else would the county know to raise our property taxes? This is one reason for putting it in the same footprint, to not make a bigger structure.

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  12. Your plan looks really cool...I can picture it in my head. Can't wait to see how far my head is off. ;)

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    1. The same could be said for both of us, LOL

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  13. My only thought is that you might want to put one end of the feeder up against the wall so that you don't have an island. Why? Because I've been chasing goat babies around an 'island' in my pasture and it's a losing battle every time!

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    1. LOL. I can just picture that Kat. Both of my current hay feeders are butted against a wall and my problem is that the dominant goats ram the others into the wall. I want it open on all sides so for quick escape. It's always something, isn't it? ;)

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  14. I don't really know regarding care of goats everything sounds brilliant to me on that score, and making sure you get what works for you is worth the wait, right? :)
    ... but as I just did some roofing I do have a suggestion regarding construction. Is it possible to shift your stairs a little further along to a platform (like a balcony sort of) on the other side of the barn so that you don't have to have the extra peak sticking out the side of the gambreled roof? the way you show it you will have two valleys which are not only going to be an issue with water runoff (puddles below) but you will have to do valley seams (huge pain in the tush!) and there is alot of measuring and cutting and needing to get odd angles coming together without leaking (ugh!) all involved..... but, If you can wrap the stairs just that little bit over to put the door in a wall with more head room everything roof-wise will be straight run slabs then which is much easier to deal with (and/or cheaper if you are hiring labor) and you can still put an overhang awning or peak over the door, but again it will be more straight to cut. I don't know if you had already thought of that and are better with roofing than me, but just in case, I thought I would mention it.

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    1. Well, remember, this is just a rough sketch; just an idea on paper. Nothing is to scale, proportionate, or set in stone. My little porch roof is just a representation of a dormer set in a gambrel roof. I didn't know how to draw that, so I just stuck a roof over the door to show that there will be a landing, door, and roof in that approximate location.

      The structural planning is Dan's. He knows what the porch & door sketch represents, so he'll take it from there to make sure it's properly constructed. (In other words, he's used to me :) We work together and I modify my ideas according to what is structurally realistic. My goal is to design a barn that meets our needs, his is to make it sound. So far we're agreed on the basic plan.

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  15. What kind of floor or flooring are you going to have. I was so lucky when I had the cattle I had heavy solid clay that had packed like concrete after years of use. It is easier on legs and feet. However I did have one pen with heavy rubber mats. Old industrial conveyer belt from a mine not far from me. It was wonderful to clean and might be something to consider as it does offer cushioning if you have concrete.

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    1. The goat section will be a dirt floor with likely a lot of straw. . We have clay soil too, and it does make a nice solid floor. The feed processing area is already concrete, but Dan will make a paver (or cap block) floor for the milking room. My current milking room is concrete. I hadn't thought about mats, but will have to look into it.

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  16. How exciting for you....and the goats!! This looks like a luxury mansion for them!!

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    1. It will be for me at least. The goats don't care as long as they're fed. :)

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  17. Wow, that is so fun to see in this early stage. I can't wait to watch it "grow". And those goats are going to be happy happy with their new digs! And just think of all the room for new babies!!

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    1. Oh yes, lots of room for more babies! That's the fun part but sometimes I really do need more room. :)

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  18. ARGH! I wrote this comment once, and then due to a sign-in issue, I lost it! Haha, oh well, here's trying again.

    I am so excited by your plans! I love reading about & watching your progress on your land. You are living my dream. You give me hope that I too will someday live a more rural life (except mine will be in a small village in Dominican Republic, not far from where my fiancee grew up).

    I did have one thought as I was looking at your barn sketch. I know you know your goats better than me, so I could be completely off base here. I also know that this is just a sketch & subject to change. I just wanted to mention it in case you hadn't thought of it.

    I was just imagining the traffic pattern for the milking room doors & the main room as a whole. I think you should maybe consider swapping the goat-in & goat-out doors. I picture a goat in the loafing area who then decides she wants to be milked. She's going to want to go through the first door she sees that goes to the milking room. She may get frustrated if she has to walk past one door (& exiting goats) to get to the milking room. I also imagine she might want a bite to eat after milking before going outside. If you swap the two doors, the traffic pattern for the whole place would be a smooth counterclockwise.

    Just a thought. Like I said, you probably know better than I. Regardless, I know this place will turn out AMAZING because all y'all's projects always do!

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    1. Elisa, good for you for trying to think things through. :) What I can tell you is that milking time is also feeding time. All goats anticipate their feed with much eagerness, so that they are all hanging around whatever door or gate I'll come through with the feed. The goats being milked get their feed on the milking stand, so there is usually a line-up at the door to the milking room and a lot of squabbling over who's first. The other goats are fed at feeding stations in the barn. My problem is then keeping the first milked goat from rushing over to eat everybody else's food. That being said, maybe I should have the out door going out into the loafing area. Hmmm.

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  19. Did you have a rough idea of the dimensions? Also are all.of your goats going to be housed here?

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    1. About twenty-nine feet wide and thirty-two feet on the goat side and 26 feet on the lean to side. This will be only for does and kids. The bucks will remain in their own pasture.

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