Sunday, August 18, 2013

Build a Portable Goat Shed

Since I move my goat pen from location to location around the farm, I wanted to build a fairly light-weight shed that I could move along with the pen.  As with most of my projects I recycled a lot of the materials for this shed from stuff that I had lying around.  I did have to buy four treated 2 by 4’s eight feet long, but the rest of the materials are recycled.  I decided to make the shed four feet by four feet square and about four feet tall.  This is how I built the shed.

First I took my newly purchased 2 X 4’s along with a couple of recycled ones and ripped them in half so that the finished lumber was 1 ½” by 1 ¾” by eight feet long.
Then I cut and nailed together the two sides of the shed. 
The front of the shed is 4’ 6” tall and the back is 3’6” tall.  The base is 48” and the angled piece for the roof is 50” long.  The cross brace is 45”.  Note that the uprights are set in 1 ½” so that after the sides are joined together the shed will be 48” square.

Next I cut several pieces of lumber to join the two sides together.  The front and back pieces on the floor are 45” long.  The front to back brace on the floor is 45” long.  All three cross pieces on the roof are 45” long.  The cross brace on the back of the shed is 6’ long.  This will allow a foot to stick out on each side of the back.  These will be handles that make it possible to loft and carry the finished shed.

For the floor I used some old ¾” treated plywood that I had lying around.  The corners of the plywood have to be notched to fit around the uprights at the corners of the shed.

I wanted to make the shed so that I could keep the goats inside of it while transporting them, so I cut a piece out of an old stock panel to make a fence across the front of the shed.  This fence is four feet wide and three feet tall. 

I used two bent nails and two straight nails to make a simple closure system that the stock panel can be slipped into.

Recycled roofing metal was used to cover the three sides and the top of the shed.

The last thing I did was make a couple of brackets out of some old flat iron stock that I had in the shop.  I mounted the brackets on the front uprights of the shed so that I can slip a 2 X 4 into them and make a carrying handle on the front. 

The finished shed is light enough for two people to lift and carry, but because of the distance between the front and back handles it is much easier for four people to carry.  When we don’t have any help around, my wife and I just lift it up onto the kid’s old Radio Flyer wagon a roll it to where we want.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Use Goats to Clear Your Land

A couple of summers ago we had a rash of wild-fires in East Texas and it inspired me to start clearing a wider area around my farm house.  The woods here are thick.  Not only are there trees, large and small; but there are honeysuckle vines, grape vines, and green briar vines growing over everything.  It’s a formidable clearing job.  I recently enlisted the help of two pygmy nanny goats that I bought from a friend of mine.  Joy and Abbey are small little things, maybe 18 inches at the shoulder and they don’t weigh over 40 pounds each, but boy can they eat.  They are the best brush clearers that you’ve ever seen.

Of course I needed to control the area that they clear so I built them a movable pen out of T-posts and cattle panels.  The panels are 16 feet long, so I put in T-posts 8 feet apart and wired the panels to them using tie wire like you would use to tie re-bar together.  I didn’t drive the T-posts very deep because I will have to pull them up on a regular basis.  I made the pen about 16 by 32 feet.  I’ve heard that goats are hard to fence in, but I’ve had no problems with them trying to get out.  Of course they are nannies, so they are not as aggressive as a billy-goat would be.

I had an old gate from a chain link fence laying around so I wired it up between two T-posts to give me access to the pen.

The goats went right to work on the brush.  The pictures below illustrate the method that I and my goats now use to clear land.

Because the goats are so small they can only munch on the greenery to a height of about 3 feet, so I give them a couple of days to get that part of the job done.

This is what I started off with:

And this is after 2 days of work by my goats:
Next I go in with a pair of loppers and cut down all of the saplings up to about an inch in diameter.  For larger trees I trim off all of the branches that I can reach with the long handle loppers, then I sit back for a day or two while the goats clean up all the branches and the vines growing on them.

Now I pull down any vines that are growing up into the larger trees.  This usually results in a big pile of honeysuckle and green briar which the goats seem to love. This pile of vines keeps the goats fed for a couple of more days.
After about a week the goats have done their part and eaten all of the greenery.
When there’s nothing left in the pen but bare branches and vines I go in with my machete and it’s a couple of hours work to cut up the bare vines and throw them and the branches out into the woods.

It’s now time to move the goats to the next section so that I can go in and rake the ground, throw out any rocks, and use my chainsaw to cut down any stumps or larger trees.

The ground is now clear enough to run my lawnmower over next spring.

In addition to the brush I give each goat 16 ounces of 12% all-stock feed each day and plenty of fresh water.  The feed amounts to about $10.00 a month.  Pretty cheap wages for these hard working hands.

In my next post I’ll show you how I made a portable shed for my goats to live in.