Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Simple Sheep Shelter

Today was the day to finally get started on our new barn for the sheep. With plenty of building supplies and a lot of enthusiasm for building on this chilly morning, we went to stake out the perimeter and dig holes for the corner timbers. Unfortunately, we were a week too late. The ground is solid. Frozen. Not- getting-through-until-spring solid. So after a bit of pouting that I won't get to look out the back door to a  crafty little barn for the next five months, I went ahead with Shaun's idea to make a temporary, yet practical, shelter. We constructed it mostly in under three hours with some scavenged supplies and some bought. And honestly, although it's not worthy of the cover of Mother Earth News, it's super sturdy and protective (unless we have another surprise Christmas lamb!). This project is something I would recommend to any shepherd using pasture-rotation methods or doesn't want to invest thousands (or even hundreds) of dollars into starting their own flock.

So here it is: a simple frame made from 2x4's that came off of some old pallets we found. The bottom pieces have a 45 degree angle cut so they can act as skis when moving this shelter around the land. We nailed two pieces of rigid cattle fencing (some of our favorite versatile farm materials around) to the sides of the skis. It's a little wobbly without framing in some vertical 2x4's, and for extra protection, we added a plywood backing. This is where I got to continue my apprenticeship with power tools!

We added two large tarps and attached them with zip ties. The plywood still needs to be painted to protect the already rotting (but free!) plywood. However, I'm not sure that paint will set at the temperatures we have been having, so….in addition to my slight disdain for tarp-y structures, I get to look at ugly plywood all winter long. 
Sarcasm aside, this really is a wonderfully versatile farm structure. Hay or firewood storage, a jug for new lambs and their mothers, a mini garage for 4-wheelers? Use your imagination...