One of the first things we did upon arriving in Indiana, was to survey the area we can use for our little hobby farm. There is a large barn with an open central area flanked by fenced in runs, room for pasture or pens around the barn, and a nice level open space backed up against a light forested area. Before we can get any animals we need to make repairs to the barn and put in some fencing.
The barn appears to be in relatively good structural shape. It is currently used by a neighboring farmer as a storage area for equipment and hay which leads me to believe the roof doesn’t leak, but that remains to be seen. It isn’t ready to provide shelter to goats, or any other animals that need a secure and safe place. On one side wall timbers do not reach the ground (see photos), allowing animals that are meant to stay in the barn a way out, and predators a way in. The other side has a concrete brick wall at ground level – so that’s what we’ll need to install. The fenced in runs need timber repair or replacement and we need to be able to secure the doors. There are a number of weeds – Virginia creeper mostly – and even a small tree growing inside the barn that will need to be removed.
These photos show different views of each of the two runs along the sides of the barn. The upper photos show the run we will try to fix up first – It needs gaps fixed, plants removed and the little concrete wall built. The run shown below needs more timber repair and has two holes in the roof above.
We made a list of some of the tools and supplies we will need to fix up the barn (some we can borrow, some we may be able to find for free, and some we will have to purchase):
- Concrete blocks
- Wire fencing
- Pallets – we think we can fashion some ‘stall’ areas using pallets
- Nails or other fencing tacks
There is no Home Depot near us (so I removed the Home Depot gift card from our Amazon.com wishlist) but there is a Lowes and a nice independent hardware store called Bear’s Hardware where we can get supplies. I’m watching craigslist as well for bargains!
Despite the heat and drought, which has baked the ground into brick hardness, the area around the barn – destined for use as a goat pen – is rich with a jungle of vegetation. Some of these plants might be fodder for goats, but others may be toxic. Before mowing them all down I’m hoping to identify what’s what and keep the useful plants. Goats are great browsers and brush clearers!
Although there is some fencing around the barn it is in poor repair and doesn’t encompass the area we want to use. So while we will attempt to make use of what is there additionally fencing will be needed. According to some experts the best fencing for goats is woven wire fence – strong and high enough to keep the wily critters contained. Others swear by electric fences.
For this part of the job we will need fencing wire, posts and post clips and other hardware (I’m amazed at how many pieces and steps a seemingly simple fence requires).
The heat has made it difficult to get started on these projects – even though we are all chomping at the bit to get going. The only respite from the heat has been during the brief rain storms that roll through in the afternoons – generally with winds, thunder and lightning and power outages! We do hope to get started this weekend with some of the plant removal, leveling the floors, and building the concrete walls if we can get some of the materials purchased.
Once we have the barn and fenced pasture we can get some goats! We are looking at a breed of meat goat called Kiko. Registered Kiko goats cost $200 to $300 for bucks and $250 and up for does. They come from New Zealand and are hardy, good mothers and parasite resistant. We would raise them to sell. We may get one or two dairy goats to provide milk and other dairy products for the family.
Other farm projects include building a chicken coop, raised garden beds which we would mulch over the winter and then plant next spring, and bee hives. At some point in the future we might add other poultry (turkeys seem popular around here), some sheep or other fiber animals, and a pig or two.