I'm planning my barn

I am in the process of planning my homestead.  It is still going to be a few years until I can break ground, but I want to get as much of it planned as possible. 

I intend to have a herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats for making soap, cheese, and yogurt.  Eight seems like a good number.  I also want to keep chickens for eggs, probably nine.  Because my wife is opposed to raising livestock for meat, we will not be butchering any of our livestock.   We will be purchasing all of meat from the grocer.  Our fruit and vegetable needs will be raised on our homestead, hopefully enough to last all year.  I currently have an office job, but being raised on a farm, I’m going crazy not having land of my own.

For me the most difficult part of the planning process has been trying to figure out what kind of barn/coop/milk room/storage I need.  I think I’ve decided that the “half-monitor” style would be the best for me.  From what I’ve read the roof lines allow for the best ventilation without being drafty. 

 Fig 1. Exterior

The short walls and enclosed pens are 6’ tall.  The center wall is 12’ and the other wall is 8’ at the eaves. All roof sections are sloped 4/12.  The transom windows at the top are centered on the knee wall.  The windows in the pens are 2’x2’ and set 3’ off the ground.  The doors under the windows in the goat pens are 2.5’ tall and 2’ wide.  The nest box on the outside of the barn allows for easy egg collection and frees up room in the barn for the hens.  

Figure 2. Floorplan

In the diagram of the barn, the north side is at the top of the page, east to the right, you can figure out the rest. 

The goats occupy the east side of the barn.  The kidding pens are 6’x6’ and are under the short side of the roof.  The main section of the goat pen is 12’x12’.  The kidding pens open to the outside, allowing the new mothers to take the new kids outside while keeping them sheltered. 

As the kids mature, the kid pens can be used to separate the kids from the milking does at night, allowing us to milk once in the morning.

The chickens are kept in the southwest corner in a 6’x6’ stall.  They have a fully enclosed run outdoors, 12’x12’.   The rest of the space in the barn is reserved for milking and storage.  Eventually cabinets would be built to store the necessary milking equipment and whatever other supplies I need to keep in the barn.  The building will be wired for electricity and have a water hookup.  The chickens will have a wood floor, nine inches above the ground lined with linoleum for easy cleaning. 

The side walls have dutch doors to allow for crossbreezes in the summer, but can be shut in the winter to avoid blowing snow.

Now is the part where I ask for your help.  I have put a lot of time researching the type of farm I want to have.  Hopefully in a few years I will be able to make my plans real.  If you see anything that won’t work please let me know before I spend lots of time and money building something that won’t work.

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  • Wow! You've done a lot of research. We have that style chicken house and live in Illinois. You probably read this somewhere already, but just in case -- the windows and openings should face south so that you get the sun in the winter. It also means that (assuming your wind is from the north during snow storms) the snow will just blow right over the roof. That's the logic behind the design. If you build it facing the wrong direction, it doesn't work. It winds up being cold and dark with snow piling up everywhere.

    I have to say that I am always surprised when I hear that someone is willing to eat meat from the store but not meat that they have raised. Perhaps your wife is not aware of the conditions on factory farms? Of course, many people change after they have animals. We were vegetarians for 14 years before we started eating our chickens. (Story is in my first book, Homegrown & Handmade.) But we still don't eat -- and will never eat -- factory farmed meat. Haven't had it since 1989.

  • How much snow do you get? Is the top of the chicken coop outside screened?  I see potential issues w/the snow coming off the roof & ruining whatever is covering the coop. If it is not covered, it may not be an issue, but if you get alot of snow it will pile in the pens!

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