The photo below shows the structure of the first Tarp Barn going up on the day we moved the goats to the ranch. I'll post more about that incredible day soon.
You see the area to the right of this photo? That's where the Kidding Tarp Barn is planned to be built. You can see that the remains of the old barn was cleared off leaving me with a nice flat surface to build on.
The goats were checking out their new home
You may be wondering why I've built Tarp Barns instead of more permanent structures. The answer is simply time and money. The Kidding Barn is 10 1/2 feet wide, 47 feet long, and about 8 feet tall in the middle of the arch. I have 16 kidding stalls built in it with an ally way wide enough to take my wheel barrow down. I have left two additional stall areas open on the north east side for working and storage space. My total cost in this structure is around $700 dollars. The structure went up in one afternoon - thanks to Tonia and her daughters! And, the kidding stalls have gone together pretty quickly as well.
Here's the underlying structure of the tarp barn. The side walls are 4 foot by 16 foot welded wire cattle panels. These are wired length-ways to t-posts driven into the ground every 8 foot (closer if necessary to keep the sides straight). The side walls are exactly 10 1/2 feet apart from each other and parallel. This is important to keep the arch from having any dips in it when it's finished. If it has dips in it ... rain or snow could accumulate there and weigh it down ... possibly collapsing the structure.
The west side of the Kidding Barn (on the right of the photo below) was installed shortly after the goats came to the ranch as a fence between the buck pen and the main doe pen. Since I had planned this space for the Kidding Barn, I made sure it was nice and straight. But, the bucks had pushed on the fence so much that it required some straightening and more t-posts to get it ready for the new tarp barn.
The top arches of the tarp barn structure is constructed from more of the 4 foot by 16 foot welded wire cattle panels. These are arched and wired to the side panels about 2 squares down from the top of the side panels. They are also wired to each other along their edges to give strength to the structure. We wired 1 inch pvc pipes every 4 feet along the inside of the arches to (hopefully) add more support when it snows or ices. Usually all you have to do to keep ice and snow build up off of the tarp barn is to go inside and "pop" the welded wire arches. The snow slides off the sides of the barn.
Here's the barn with the tarp(s) pulled over it and wired into place along the bottom edge. (I came back later and wired it about every 2 foot along the sides up about 3 foot from the ground.) The tarps are simply recycled billboard tarps. I got them at no cost from one of our local sign companies. The only requirement for re-using them is that the printed side has to be placed to the inside so the advertisement isn't visible to the public. This is the second structure these tarps have been on. They hold up pretty well.
We ran a cord through the edging on the south end to pull it down snug. This will allow for ventilation since I planned to completely enclose the north end.
The ground stayed a little damp even with it being enclosed under the tarp barn. So, I went to one of our local saw mills and got some of their mulch to put in as bedding. This is produced as they chip the bark off of the logs in preparation of sawing them into lumber. They only charged me $10 for each big scoop. I got 3 scoops heaped up on the 16 foot trailer.
I hauled it into the tarp barn a wheelbarrow load at a time. This has really helped keep the kidding pens dry ... even in all the wet weather we've had.
The photo below may look like a pile of junk ... but it is a cherished treasure. A gift from my Dad. He wasn't able to come and install electricity out in the Kidding Barn. So, he did it at home and I picked it up a few days before the goats were due to start kidding. Thanks Dad!
The really heavy wire on the reel is a very very long arc welder extension cord. And, the smaller wire is 10 gauge wiring with outlet boxes installed every 10 feet into it. Dad built two sets of these so I could have outlets down each side of the tarp barn.
He also wired up a 220v switch box with an arc welder plug coming out of it. All I had to do when I got it back home was to hook up the black wires from each of the outlet strings to the "hot" junctions inside the box and hook up the red neutral wires to the single neutral junction inside the box. (Dad will help me wire the yellow ground wires when he comes on his next visit.) This gave me two strands of 110v outlets from the 220v arc welder cord that I plugged into the switch box and into the welder outlet inside the milk barn. Electricity in the Kidding Barn! Now that was really exciting.
This made it possible to hang two 4 foot florescent light fixtures in barn. Now I wouldn't have to be out there kidding in the dark!
And, I was able to have heat lamps for the newborn babies on the chilly nights. This made me so happy!
I built the kidding pens/stalls out of more of the welded wire cattle panels. The pens on the west side are 4 foot from the outside toward the inside of the barn and 5 foot long. These are big enough for my bigger does. And, to keep the alley way wide enough to work in, I built the pens on the east side 3 1/2 feet from the outside toward the inside of the barn and 5 feet long. This has worked out great for my smaller does. I anchored each corner of the pens with a t-post. The gates are cut to be 5 1/2 feet long to give a little overlap when hooked onto the neighboring pen. This helps keep the babies from escaping. I also wired 2x4 inch welded wire to the bottom 2 feet all the way around the pens. This is also to keep the babies inside.
I got 5 of the pens built before the first does were due to deliver and continued working on building more of them while I was out in the barn keeping an eye on the does that were in the pens on labor watch. I secured feed and water buckets in each pen and put a shared hay rack between pens. I also put heat lamps shared between pens ... on the opposite end from the hay racks. I didn't want to risk getting hay near the heat lamps!
Just before kidding started, I was able to finish enclosing the north end of the tarp barn and get a door put on. I got this finished on Saturday the 17th .. just the day before Mandy delivered her twins!
On warm sunny days, I have to leave the door open for ventilation and to keep it from getting too hot inside the tarp barn.
Since the Kidding Barn is on one side of the general goat yard, I put a wire gate on the south end and covered the south side pens and gate with pieces of the tarp. This keeps the wind and goats out, but allows for ventilation.
The goat mommas and babies have been very comfortable in the new Kidding Barn and I've found it easy to work in.
The photo below shows the area I left open for my working and storage space.
Here's one of Valerie's kids eating from the hay rack. The kids have enjoyed the kidding pens too.
I have 62 does that will be kidding this season and I need to clear some of the pens out to get them ready for the next group of does to deliver their kids in.
So ... It's time for these does to get back to work providing milk here on the dairy. I'll be separating these babies into pens and bottle feeding them. They'll still be getting their momma's milk ... and so will I.
Some of the babies will be ready to go to their new homes next week as soon as I get their horns disbudded. And, many of the little does will stay right here on the dairy to increase the goat herd with their sweet dispositions and great milking genetics.