Raising Finnish Landrace, Cotswold, Border Leicester, and Romeldales, in the Heart of Illinois, as well as working with rescue llamas.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Creative sheltering- make your own sheep shelters (test model #1)

     BRR! 18+ inches of snow and already several days -0*f this winter and winter is only a few days old!  A wonderful neighbor got out of cows a while ago, and has gone thru their barn and gifted us with things that help our operation that they no longer need.  This past summer they gave us 2 old round hay bale feeders for cows. We really needed shelter for our flerd (sheep flock + cow herd) that would not be up close to the barn in the cold winter months so we decided to use the bale feeders to meet the need. All summer we looked, we thought, we argued, then thought and looked some more about how we could turn those round bale feeders into useful shelters. We would walk away and come back to them just to sit and stare at them and scratch our heads and say "humph!" then walk away again. Thankfully, we got clever on one of those last warm days in November, the pumpkin pie muse hit and the shelters were built in just a few hours. Below are the photos of the huts while we were in the process of making them and the resulting sheep huts.

Step one: We cut out one bar that ordinarily keeps the cows from walking into the feeder and getting trapped in a round bale.
Step two: Buy a large heavy duty tarp/s that will go around the circumference of your bale feeder. We folded our tarps over the top of the bale feeder and overlapped the ends of the tarps by several feet to add some durability on the seam.

Step three:  We used 4"X4"  landscaping timbers as rafters.We will more than likely add crossbeams next summer, not because the the timbers are straining under the snow but simply to add it as prevention for strain. If we get a  larger snow fall we will simply have to go out and clean off the tops if the beams show stress this winter,.
 Step four: Then we attached plywood and covered the top in another tarp to protect the top from the winter weather.  The top can be further attached to the bale feeder using guide wires similar to the ones used as guide wires for keeping young trees growing straight.
 An interior view. You can see that there is the very important ventilation along the top and along the bottom when there isn't a layer of snow.

The calves and sheep decided to take us up on our offer of shelter! The sheep and calves pile in every night just after dusk and their dinner. Every morning they come out just as the sun begins to rise. I would love to get a photo of all of them inside together but I doubt they would let me sneak up on them without feeling the need to come begging for scratches and handouts and thus ruin the photo. I wonder if the cows are using the sheep for pillows or vice versa!

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