Our barn/barnyard has been three years in the making. It’s the centerpiece of our farming efforts. Our starting point and the home base for all the animals.
Year 1: working from the location and basic footprint of the original barn we started with the chicken coop on the left side of the barn using the existing beams to build a place for roosting, nest boxes and shelter from the weather.
Year 2: we tore down and totally rebuilt the barn–thanks to the help from our friends and family! If it weren’t for them we’d still be building the basic barn structure. We also painted the barn and the barn quilt door. Cause a barn’s gotta be cute, no?
Year 3: this year is all about getting ready for animals. We have completed the chicken and garden fence and gates. We built the hay loft and filled it with hay from last year’s cutting. We still need to finish up the fencing around the areas marked “pigs” and “cows”.
Until then the pigs temporarily reside in the garden, obviously there is no garden growing in that area this summer.
The Master Plan
Now the Old Man’s master plan is this: to use vertical or integrated farming methods as much as possible. Inspired by Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farms in Virginia, we’re working to integrate multiple species in order to give balance to the pasture and ecosystem.
It looks something like this… The larger life stock creates the manure, the manure atracks bugs, chickens eat the bugs and turn and spread the manure. In addition, different species eat different plants in the pasture. Goats tend to eat leafy weeds and even briers. The items the goats eat first the cows will eat last and vice versa. They compliment each other and work together to make a healthy environment and improve the quality of the pasture which then can sustain more livestock.
This all starts in our barn yard where we can run different animals through a pen after the other is finished with it (i.e. the pigs take a turn in the garden after it is harvested to turn the soil and manure it, then the chickens eat the bugs and spread the manure). The connected pens and gates make it possible for us to move species from pen to pen as needed. Eventually they will all get a turn in the pasture when we have our pasture fence ready to go. Pasturing all the animals as much as possible and rotating them in the field is the goal. That includes multiple chicken tractors and a series of portable, electric fencing.
But first things, first: finish the barnyard!