Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Farm Update

I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving weekends and focusing on the THANKS as much as possible. We are keeping busy with visits from friends and a party for our newly three-year-old daughter, but there is plenty of work still going on at the farm. Since I haven't done a farm update in a quite awhile I decided to take just a few moments and paint a picture of what is happening.
  • Inside the house we have been living with the floor down in most of the main living area. But, that all changed this week as we took three evenings (after the kids went to bed) and finished up the main area. Now we just have one bedroom, part of the hall, and a couple of closets left. It wouldn't take that long to finish except for the fact that we have to move a lot of boxes out of the way to get to the areas that need to be done.
  • I'm continuing to work on "project clean up the farm" (or whatever I'm calling it at the time) and have been sorting through the wood to see what I can burn inside, what I can use again, and what will just get thrown on the burn pile. Since the birth of our new little boy I haven't had a chance to empty the "trash" trailer, but I should be able to carve out a time this week.
  • I've mentioned in the past that I was helping out a neighbor with his harvest and I did buy a wagon full of ear corn from him. I'm going to pick it up today (if all goes well). I'm pretty sure the animals will appreciate this.
  • Cutting firewood (and splitting it) has been a chore that I've down a couple of times each week since we put in the stove. I really enjoy doing this and checking out different parts of the farm. I have purposefully been working as far from the house as possible because that is the area that I see the least.
  • The pigs are fat ... and ready to be butchered ... if you want one shoot me an
  • We still don't have our Dexter herd here, but we did make a step in the right direction by finally going over to get some of the cattle panels that I purchased. I think we are going to end up making a fairly big cattle panel lot for our cows this year so we can feed the hay that we baled on our place. It isn't ideal, but with so much else to do the fence just isn't getting done yet.
  • I think we are beginning to lean towards the pole building idea. I have asked the guy that built our house to put a bid together for a 24 x 40 foot building. It would be open all the way across on one of the long sides and have two 20 foot bays. He is going to quote me for the entire project (steel all the way around) and for what it would cost if it just had steel on the roof. I'm guessing we'll go with just steel on the roof this year and make do if we go ahead with the project.
Things are busy and we really are still kind of in the construction stage so that slows things down a bit, but I really love our life out here and wouldn't trade all the little troubles that go with carving a farm out of the top of a hill for anything! Thanks again for sharing so much great advice and encouragement for the course of this blog ... everyone has been a huge help.


Rich said...

How tall of a sidewall are you planning? It seems like almost every building I've either built or someone I know has built could or should have been built with the walls a couple feet higher.(Of course there are limits, 16-20 foot walls might be a little too tall for me to tackle on my own)

Building a 12 foot high wall usually costs just slightly more than a 10 foot wall but can be much more useful.

A slightly taller wall would allow you to add a "porch-like" extension along the back ( by extending the roof 10-12 feet) in the future to park smaller equipment, build grain storage, build a separate shop area, etc.

A taller wall would also make it possible to park something like a larger tractor or a combine inside the building. It is amazing how often somebody builds a 10' tall door opening, then finds a deal on a piece of equipment that is 10'6 tall.

Jena said...

I've been following your building plans and am excited to see what you come up with. We lost a portion of our big barn last week to a fire so we are now faced with rebuilding decisions. Reading about your experience has been very helpful. The building we had was not ideal for cattle so we're looking for ways to improve. Eventually our cattle will be on pasture most of the warmer months but we need a place that can comfortably house them. We're going to get estimates on a few different setups including a hoophouse style building. Anyway, good luck with your project, I hope it goes up without a hitch!

Ethan Book said...

Rich and Jena - Right now I'm looking at 12 foot sidewalls. With these I figure that I can add a lean-to off the back (about 12-16 feet) and still have a 7 foot side wall in the lean-to. That area would probably be used for feeding cattle in the winter, kind of like Salatin talks about with deep bedding and such.

Rich said...

Have you considered building an outdoor adaptation of Salatin's deep bedding system?

I was thinking along the lines of a feeding area similar to Salatin's without the barn structure.

The result might not be as efficient, but the structure would be much easier to build (some cattle panels, a gate, and a round bale feeder), could be rotated to a new area each winter, and would allow some experimenting with the concept to optimize it for different circumstances.

Jena said...

Have you given any thought to the fabric covered structures such as Clearspan Buildings? I remember you looking in to carports but don't remember you mentioning the other buildings. I'm going to call and talk with the company, figured we might as well explore all our options. There are some big cattle operations further up in the Thumb that have similar buildings and they seem to hold up well in the heavy snows and winds here. It wouldn't last forever but the fabric supposedly has a 15 year warranty and with the cost being relatively low it seems like a person could afford to maintain it. I like that they are so bright inside and have good ventilation, plus we could get more square footage for our $$$.

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