July 28, 2014

Idea For A Round Goat Barn

Folks sometimes comment that Dan and I seem to get along so well in spite of our many home remodeling and homestead projects. Many a marriage has taken its hits from differences of opinion! Our ground rules are simple, but effective.
  1. Brainstorming stage - anything goes. we can throw out any idea, no matter how fantastic. No criticism from the other party allowed.
  2. Discussion stage - we take a closer look at all the options and try to list pros and cons for each one. Again, no criticism, we just try to take a realistic look at feasibility. The wildest ideas usually get canned at this point.
  3. Decision stage - if we both agree on an idea, it's a go. Likewise, if we both disagree, then it's crossed off the list. If one feels strongly and the other doesn't care, then we go with it. If we differ in opinion, then the idea in question is set aside and we keep looking until we both agree. This has actually been a marvelous rule because it forces us into better solutions than we previously thought we wanted. 
But on to the idea for the barn. I've showed you a couple of our ideas for a goat barn, one here, and the plan below.

Click for larger view. Details here.

This plan has been the top contender so far. It fits within the footprint of the outbuilding we just tore down, and pretty much resolves most of the problems I have with managing my goats. We still discuss options from time to time, but always come back to this plan in the end.

While we were working on the coal barn demolition, Dan said, "What about a round barn?" I said, "Let's look into it." We found a great website, which has a collection of photographs of round and polygonal barns from all over the U.S. and Canada. Dan immediately starting thinking about the how-tos of constructing such a barn, while I started thinking about the how-to of dividing the space within. We came up with a rough sketch of a floor plan for a bottom floor. A second story would be the hay loft.

Rough sketch for a round barn idea.

The challenge to doing this is working around the concrete slab that used to be the carport for the old coal barn. Dan doesn't want to tear it out, so we figured it would make a good floor for a milking/feed storage room. That was placed in the center of the plan.

At the bottom of the plan is a loading bay, large enough to back the bed of a pickup truck into. Things could be carried directly into the storage room, or goats could be loaded or unloaded from their area on the left. We're also considering making it open to the hayloft above. The truck could be backed in and the hay hoisted up with a block and tackle. This arrangement would mean we wouldn't have to have a hayloft door on the outside. In fact, we could likely leave the bay open with no exterior door. The goats would still be protected from rain, snow, and wind, but have excellent ventilation.

Goat area on the left. A hay shoot from the hay loft would allow for direct dropping of hay into the feeder. For the goats, I'd have both entry and exit doors for the milking room. No more clogging up the door for feed! At the back (top of plan) a large 8 or 10 foot gate would access an open area as a covered loafing area. I haven't figured out where yet, but I'll have portable pens for kidding (no more territorial fights over the kidding stall!).

The goat porch in the back would be open to the outdoors, no walls, just the roof overhead. It would be open to a small courtyard with gates to either of the back forage areas, easily enabling pasture rotation.

On the right would be a room for processing feed and storing the equipment needed to do so: my corn sheller, a threshing machine, and a hammer mill (both items on my wish list). We'd need to add a door into the milking room. This room is also where we'd have a narrow stair or ladder to the hay loft.

The round barn idea is still in the discussion stage, but we both really like it. We haven't yet figured out if it would be truly round or polygonal, nor things like where to put windows. The milking room being in the center presents concerns about light and lighting. Also trying to work a round building off a square room is a puzzle. We haven't dared consider the cost either! That would likely be so discouraging as to us abandoning the project. We'll continue to work through the details, discussing if this is truly a feasible idea. Like everything else, we'll plan it out and take it one step at a time. That being said, there's no telling when we'll actually be able to get started. When we do, you'll be the first to know. 


Judy said...

We built a 'round house'. Our home was a 20-sided polygon. I would suggest you give polygons a look. The construction is simpler than a true round. Having flat surfaces helps with doors, windows and such. It also helps if you have to get the Planning Dept. approval. Those folks have real problems with the unusual!

The only big deal with a 'round' structure is you need to run a cable around the top of the studs to hold the walls together because of the down pressure of the roof. Most use 3/8" aircraft cable and turn buckles for this. The next consideration is the 'ring' that all the rafters tie into. And the final consideration is the very top crown or cupola to cover the ring. We did a pentagon but a square would have worked with 20 sides. Research 'yurts' that's how we came up with our house plans and construction ideas.

Unknown said...

Whoa, you people really are open to anything, aren't you and that is grand. I admire how you both work together and i think your rules of discussion are workable. I normally have the creative input and hubby has the job of turning them into something able to be built. We often struggle to get on the same page but in the end we get there. Id love to see his face if i asked for a round building. He still cant work out why i cant just buy veggies like everyone else.

Farmer Barb said...

A skylight concept in the very center with a railed off hole in the hayloft floor would give you a light tube right down to the parlor floor. If you were concerned about the hay being affect by the light, make it a walled off tube that was painted white.

Round: I like it!

Tyche's Minder said...

What a fun idea! If you pulled it off, you'd smile every time you looked at it.

Leigh said...

Judy, polygons are indeed what Dan is exploring at the moment. I found an online calculator for determining diameter and side widths depending on the number of sides. More sides would certainly make it rounder. Do you have photos of your house? Or did you share any plans online. Besides the round barn website I've looked at geodesic dome sites for ideas. I'll have to search for yurts as well. We're open to all ideas at present.

Lynda, you and your husband sound a lot like Dan and me. Most of our holdup is him explaining to me the structural and construction problems of my brilliant ideas. The round barn was his idea and a good thing!

Barb, most round barns are topped with a cupola, but there are a number of them in the northwest which appear to be constructed around a silo. A cupola would lend itself to a skylight arrangement and you're right about the shaft. All ideas to explore.

Tyche's Minder, thanks! It's the favored idea at present, so we're certainly hoping we can make it work!

Dawn said...

A Round barn sounds interesting and would be very pleasing to look at, we have been discussing barns, ours are clad with corrogated metal, very ugly and very noisy we plan to change them to wood at some point.

Ed said...

I live in an area of the country full of round barns because they seemed to be all the rage 150 to 200 years ago when they were built. The one thing I have noticed is that almost every single truly round one is made from bricks or cinder blocks. If they are built from wood, they are polygons.

I just looked at one a week ago that is for sale but they are wanting way to much money for it for the amount of work it would need just to preserve it.

Perhaps due to living around so many round barns but my dream is to someday build a monolithic dome home. They make a well built modern stick built home look like throwing money up into the wind because they are super efficient and they are tornado, hurricane, wildfire and earthquake proof. Not to mention domes can be found around the world thousands of years old.

Leigh said...

Dawn, it seems most barns nowadays are metal buildings. I suppose the advantage is that they don't need the maintenance wood does, but they certainly don't have the good looks of a wood barn.

Ed, take a look at that round barn website I link to. There are quite a few cinder block and brick examples, but also quite a few true round wood barns. I'm guessing styles varied according to the part of the country.

A geodesic dome was my first idea for a roof, for the many reasons you mention. Apparently there are other construction problems, so at the moment that idea is on hold, but who knows, it may be resurrected once we get to some serious roof planning. :)

Renee Nefe said...

something you might consider for lighting is a solar tube. They're similar to a sky light only they use fiber optic tubes to get the light where you need it. They don't take up as much space as a sky light because the tubes can be compressed for travel and then spread out to disperse the light. Of course I haven't looked into them enough to know the cost and that might toss it out right away.
I've been considering tubes to light up my basement (if we ever seriously consider finishing it) as all the windows are on the south west corner leaving the other 3 walls in the dark.

Renee Nefe said...

oooh I just remembered that when we drove through Wyoming and Montana that some folks had "plastic" barns. They were metal frame with the pvc "fabric" covering it. I'm assuming this is a less expensive option, but I doubt that they would hold up well where we live...or maybe the pvc has enough flexibility to hold up under the hail?
YES they were ugly, that's why we noticed them.

Quinn said...

I love the look of the old round barns, and have been in a couple of Shaker round barns still in use, as I recall, with hay dropped through the central hub and stanchions all around the circumference. It seemed to me that the design could be useful for a big herd of milk cattle, but otherwise, not sure it would be a very effective use of space and construction materials. But I know you folks will be giving it a LOT of thought, and if you come up with a design, I know it will be set up to serve your specific purposes very well! Looking forward to seeing it :)

Anonymous said...

LOVE the idea of a round (or nearly so) barn!

My barn (such as it is) is a 3 walled shed, with its back to the prevailing wind. Originally only 8x8, I sawed it in half a couple of years after construction and pulled the ends apart, adding another 8' to the width. For lambing/kidding jugs, I built some very simple fence pieces, 4 and 5 feet long. I can tie them together in whatever configuration I need, and they stack neatly out of the way when not needed. I put in eye bolts along the back wall and the 2 sides at roughly 4' distances (2 in each spot. Take a look at Premier's website to see their lambing jug panels for some great ideas.

Ed said...

All three of the round barns in my county, including the one that is for sale that I looked at was on that site!

Sandy Livesay said...

These ground rules really do work. Bulldog Man and I have similar type rules. I believe when you have rules, and communication in a relationship especially when it comes to homesteading there won't be any problems or arguing.

Both the square and round barns have there advantages and disadvantages.

I can't wait to see which plan you both decide on:-)

Ellen and Adrian said...

Just to stir the pot, but when you said 'round,' my mind immediately went to cordwood construction.

Leigh said...

Renee, we looked at those a long time ago. I'll have to revisit the idea. Getting light into an area with no windows certainly is a trick. An air/light shaft in the middle might work too.

I have to say that we have a plastic Rubbermaid garden shed. I guess they're less expensive up front, but I find PVC has a lifespan before it begins to crack. That's certainly the case with my Rubbermaid trash cans.

Quinn, I have the plans to a Shaker cattle barn that looks really neat. The entire middle of the building is for hay storage. I do want a hay shoot, but with only half a dozen goats or so, it won't have to take up a lot of room!

Sue, that's a very clever way to enlarge a shed. All of our structures are either three sided or have open areas with only gates for doors. It works well in our part of the country as long as they aren't facing into the wind.

Ed, then I've seen them! :)

Sandy, glad to hear you and Bulldog Man work the same way. I think the key is not insisting on one's own way.

Ellen and Adrian, cordwood construction would certainly be doable for a round structure. Right now Dan is favoring vertical logs, but that will likely change numerous times before we settle on anything. :)

Donna OShaughnessy said...

You and Dan sound so much like Keith and I. We have a Farm Meeting every morning to discuss plans, obligations and work priorities. Often the plan is not followed as things pop up but we do what we can. LOVE your new round barn plan. Your goats are lucky creatures.

Judy said...

The reason we ended up with 20-sided polygon was we had intended to build a geodesic dome. The problem was the compound angles on 160 wood-framed triangles. Then you can only be off an 1/8" over the entire dome and we were running out of building time.

We had the first floor framed and sheath in one week-end when we went to the wood-framed 'yurt' concept. We did several mock-ups with poster-board and popsicle-stick material before we got the rafters correct.

If you want the roof to be self-supporting the roof angle will need to be about 30 degrees. We only used 15 degree pitch or 1:3 pitch. We used the interior walls to support the rafters. Your concrete square in the center would be a good place to build a two story tower to support the roof.

Dan will need a compound miter saw and a table saw to rip angles on the long lengths of 2 by lumber for some of the studs and rafters. If he can get a hold of a radial arm chop saw it will make all the cutting less stressful.

I went clear through my blog and don't have any pictures of the house.

Sarah said...

What a great idea! It reminds me of people who have used old grain silos to make houses. There's just something lovely about the round barn. Can't wait to see what you decide to do!

Chris said...

I do like the idea of a round barn (I think your floor plan is very practical) but as someone who has done a little carpentry around this place, my main concern would be making something with so many angles.

It will probably take twice as long to build, but if it has benefits which are worth it (ie: can withstand intense winds, or can use shorter pieces of wood easier to transport) then it may be worth the extra time spent on it.

I tend to be on the Dan side, as I'm in charge of building but together, Dave and I brainstorm solutions and find something within budget and easy to get on site.

Dave is also my extra pair of hands while building.

Leigh said...

Donna, those planning meetings really help, don't they? We're still not sure if we can pull this off, but are making every effort to think it through!

Judy, thank you so much for taking time to share all your experience and details. Very helpful. Dan is currently toying with 34 sides, as that would be 4 foot per side, which is the way building materials come (4x8 ft). So many things to consider.

Sarah, Dan loves silos, LOL. Some of the round barns in the NW are build around silos.

Chris, thanks! It's nice to have a compatible partner to work with, isn't it? The round design will likely take longer to build, you're right. But then we can only go as fast as we can afford, so it will be slow either way.

Another thing I like about the rounded sides is that bully goats can't corner littler ones. I've had goats get hurt that way but there won't be corners like that with this design.

Chris said...

Compatible partner, yes, but we don't always agree and that's when we tend to stall on projects, lol. I guess its better than going ahead however, and one of us not being completely on board.

The round barn is definitely a plus, if it helps with herd stability. Those bullies can be a nuisance. Our neighbours had goats once, and they were twin boys with their mum. One boy was obviously much stronger and would butt his brother away from the best food.

Starvation meant little brother would risk the electric fence to come onto our side, to eat all our lovely plants. There was food for him at home, but big bully brother just wouldn't let him eat.

So yes, anything that will help herd management, has to be worth the extra effort. Good on you guys for not compromising on that score.

Dinie said...

I think the polygon idea would be best if you are starting from scratch. Now if you had an old grain silo that you wanted to remodel I could see using the round shape for it. Otherwise, I think it's going to cost more than you think. Good luck to you.

Leigh said...

Chris, I usually get rid of bullies. They are common in the animal world, but if they start drawing blood from their victims, they're gone.

Your example of the twin bucklings is a reminder that we need to pay close attention to what's going on. I learned that one the hard way with Dottie.

Stephanie, hello and welcome! Right now Dan is working with a 34 sided polygon idea. That way each side would be a plywood width and easy to work with. He says the old true round barns used a pliable sheathing. Quarter inch ply could easily do that today!