It’s been a long time coming (see this post, this one and this one) but now the barn renovation is finished together with the fencing of several new paddocks in the barnyard / livestock area that will be used for pigs, chickens and goats (from October) … and whatever other critters we may end up with! It’s not a perfect setup but it is a long way (we think) towards keeping things safe, simple and easy for managing the livestock and poultry all in one area.
The final big job – or rather, important job – is to connect the two IBC’s so that they are self levelling and then connect fixed water lines to feed 3 mobile pig-nipple waterers. The vision/idea is that the IBC’s will be fed either from rain water (from the gutters), the well or from the mains supply. We will see how it works and adjust our plan as necessary – for sure there will be adjustments LOL.
Having all the pig paddocks completed and secure – well I should call them livestock paddocks really as they can be used for pretty much anything in future – is a huge advantage. 4 similar size paddocks in the main area plus the large “U” shaped area around the trees makes it very flexible and we can rotate animals easily when we need to.
The hayloft is a great space, with some spare storage areas at the back and plenty of room for the 100 bales of straw, 50 of hay and 50 of alfalfa we got last month. Hopefully that will do us through the winter, but I am thinking of maybe getting some more alfalfa for the young meat goats we will be getting in October.
The chickens have been locked into their coop/palace for a week now and will be released to free-range tomorrow (17th) as part of our first anniversary celebrations. We are hoping that they will enjoy their freedom, find plenty to forage on (‘cos they won’t be getting so much hard feed) and come home to roost at night!! That’s going to be adventure I just know it. Related to that, one of the biggest and maybe time consuming tasks in the weeks ahead will be testing the dogs, one by one, to see how they react or behave to/with the poultry free ranging – probably going to be a few surprises there but it will be fun anyway!
We’ve now moved all the pig and poultry feed bins down to the barn area from the woodshed and have set ourselves the task of building a rat/rodent proof feed bin in the next few weeks. Then we will try to build some benching to make the area under the hayloft more useful for us – not least so we can do stuff or make a coffee or whatever when the weather is not quite so good. There is a heated mains water supply (i.e. the pipe from the mains to the tap is heated) and plenty of lighting and we are hoping that will be sufficient to make winter a bit less hard work!
The final things that need to be done in the barn and livestock area include…
- Finalise the power connection with Energy-Pro. Had to get the original deeds and take photos of the power supply box outside the wall so that they could identify the house number! But we found a very nice, friendly and helpful young man at Energy-Pro only too happy to help the mad Angliski’s.
- Connect the IBCs together and run the watering hoses for the pig-nipple waterers. We have made a prototype waterer but our attempts at training the pigs to use it have been unsuccessful so far… we will stick at it, maybe if they don’t have a choice they will use them 🙂
- Apply a dark stain wood preservative to all the new weatherboards on the barn so it is in keeping with the rest of the wood and (hopefully) help it to last a bit longer.
- Make some benching for the work area in the barn and fit some wind/weatherproofing to the work area before the winter.
- Plant some fruit trees and perennial forage plants around the fence lines for the chickens and other poultry or rabbits we might get in the future.
- Constantly walk/drive over and crush/compact the layer of local roof tiles that we have put down in the barnyard area to reduce the chances of (a) tripping over half tiles and breaking a leg or (b) puncturing car / truck tiles.
- Reinforce the bottom of the fences with rocks and/or heavy timbers to discourage the pigs from digging under it – they just love to expand their boundaries!