Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2016 Goals (and How to Build a Cattle Panel Structure)

2016 is here and I want to write down a plan for the year so I can visualize all we need/want to accomplish.  Seeing everything we got done in 2015 was very eye opening; hopefully, we can be as productive in 2016.

In the farming realm, I need a larger shelter for the rams in the south pasture. We had the ram lambs there this summer and they did fine in the two calf hutches. But Mercer and Elwood are just too big to be in the hutches together. A portable temporary shelter was on my list of 2016 projects. Isn't it great when you write a list and can immediately cross something off? This past weekend we built a hoop house and covered it with tarps.
The larger calf hutch is on the right in the picture above. The new shelter, to the left, is made of an 8x8 frame and two cattle panels. Some bracing, front and back, help to stiffen the structure. A tarp across the back is secured with zip ties through the grommet holes and a couple of screws and washers through the grommets at the base.
The back is covered by an 8x12 tarp. The main body of the shelter is covered by a 12x 16 tarp, the front and back overlapping. On the back we threaded a piece of poly rope to pull it tighter and hold it on.

With the second tarp on and the hay rack and mineral trough mounted, the boys are all set for winter weather.
The rams have quickly gotten used to finding their hay in a new place. Elwood was a little territorial at first but is now OK with sharing the space with Mercer.

Four of my ewes are due the first week in March so I need to figure out a better system for lambing jugs. I have a couple of ideas inspired by systems I saw at the lambing clinic and Cornell's Sheep and Goat Symposium. Using hog panels to make smaller pens, approx 5x6, I figure with three or four extra jugs the sheep should be fine.

Our new pasture area in the upper pasture needs to be seeded and I want to over seed a lot of the other pastures. Need to find some bulk orchard grass seed.

We have been using a 250+ gallon water reservoir for rainwater collection off the barn. I have been using a hose to water the veggie garden and orchard. A gravity fed irrigation system would be very useful and a time saver. Most irrigation systems sold in catalogs assume a pressurized water system but I did find a few references to using a gravity fed system. This blog post has a great design and the system would easily work with my set up. So I am adding a gravity fed irrigation system for the main garden to the list of goals for 2016.

The barn addition we had built last year is supposed to have a corner turned into a storage/wool room. With all the other things Alan wants to get done, I see this as a low priority.

A carry-over from 2015 is finishing up the garage. The third bay needs doors. Alan is almost done with the side door. And I would like to paint the whole garage. That will give us an idea if we like the color palette we are thinking of using.

Our poor little foot bridge over the stream desperately needs to be replaced. We are still discussing plans though. We need to cross about 8 feet and also raise up about 2-3 feet. I want to be able to take the wheelbarrow over the bridge but also don't want it to be slanted and become slippery when it is wet or icy.

One big project I have been waiting a while for is my root cellar in the basement. One third of our basement still has a dirt floor and there is a perfect spot for a root cellar. There is a small window in the northeast corner for ventilation and the floor where the root cellar will go will remain dirt. The rest of the area will get a poured concrete floor instead of the plastic that is there now. We have a cat who thinks peeing on plastic is great. Before we can pour the floor though, the floor above needs to have new joists and supports placed. We'll probably find a bit of rotten sill while we're at it.

Alan also has plans to build the mudroom addition this year. That will give us a covered access to the garage from the house and a service entrance from barn and outside chores instead of right into the living room. The mudroom addition will also include a walk-in closet from the area that will become the master bedroom.

I think this is a pretty ambitious list so it will be interesting to see how much we accomplish and what else comes along that gets added.

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