Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
The Aspiring Farmer Blog
Our goats are out in the pastures every day and every night. At least that’s the plan. It’s been tough to figure out a solution for portable shelter in case a storm rolls through, or to provide shade during the hot summer heat. Since we have large fields and we use managed rotational grazing we can’t always be sure that there are trees and/or bushes in each new paddock. Because of this, we need to provide them a shade shack and sheltered area.
The first attempt was a total disaster. The goats pretended to respect the structure for a few hours and then later in the day decided to get a little rambunctious and flattened it like a pancake. For a full recount of the hilarious episode, see our post Goat Shelter and Shade Shack Attempt #1.
We knew going into this that the goats were likely to destroy whatever we built. That’s why we’re sticking to a <$100 budget for each version of what we’re making. We want to come up with a good idea that we can make on a small-scale and test out with the goats. If it works we can go bigger.
So on Saturday we set out determined to make a shelter that would at least withstand a beating. We thought about different ideas all week and didn’t come up with anything that met all of our criteria: Light enough for a person to pull, shade enough for 10+ goats (preferably more), and affordable enough for us to build (not in the multiple hundreds of dollars, although we may need to go there). This round we ended up with affordable and enough shade for our current herd of 9 goats (6 kids, a yearling and two does). The truck can pull it and we could pull it with an ATV if we had one, but it's too heavy for us to pull over long distances by ourselves.
What we did this time around was a combination of an A-frame and a lean-to. First we made a 2x4x8 base and sawed skids on the ends. Then we attached 4’ beams in two corners to provide support for the roof and serve as the entrance. For the roof we attached 2x4x8’s along the hypotenuse of the base and the beams. We then added cross-beams along the width (4 beams) and along the height (2 beams). On top we attached galvanized roofing, and that was it. A lot of the wood we salvaged from a neighbor who is a contractor, some of it we bought, and the roofing came in around $35, which was the most expensive part.
So far it’s been with the goats for a couple days and we’ve witnessed them playing “king of the mountain” for long periods of time with no collapse. One precaution we took was to make sure the sharp edges were bent down and anywhere we thought they might get poked we added a couple layers of duct tape. So far so good, but we’re holding our breath.
Longer term this isn’t a great answer for us. This year we only have 9 goats. In the future, once the creamery is built, we’ll have upwards of 75 or 100, and that’s not including their kids. At that point our best answer will likely be to incorporate the woods into most of our grazing paddocks and only graze non-wooded areas on cool and dry days. We’re trying to think of other options as well, however, so let us know if you have genius ideas.
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