Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 19

Thread: A Living Barn (Outside the box)

  1. #1

    A Living Barn (Outside the box)

    As many of you know I now have sheep and with a birthing rate of 200%, I should have several sheep soon. That will mean my existing sheep shed will be outgrown in very short order. In a way it is silly...Maine law requires a "3 sided structure to get animals out of the wind" even for sheep that have 3 inches of wool on them. In fact its actually unhealthy for a sheep to be in a barn in the winter. Still a law is a law and we farm according to all livestock laws. This means I need something for a barn so I went to see my horticulturalist.

    Now wait a minute you are probably saying, you need to talk to an architect or a building contractor, not a horticulturalist.

    I disagree.

    I have done some research and there is some growing interest in what is known as Living Barns. Its basically plantings in certain shapes that allow the livestock to get out of the wind. The basic premise is this. The plantings (like hedge) block the wind and raise the temp inside the living barn. At the same time it can provide shade and yet allow the toxic ammonia from the livestock urine to be vented.

    I have not hammered out a final design, but I was thinking something like this shape. I I ) The semicircular line will be vegetation planted on earthen mound in a semi circular shape about 4 feet high. Vegetation will be cedars a few feet tall and planted darn tight to keep out the wind. That will face the north and block our northerly winds. Being made of earth, it will also absorb the suns rays and kind of help heat and protect the livestock.

    In front of that will be another row of vegetation,probably fir trees that are tight to block any south facing winds, but below enough to allow sunlight over them and into the living barn. In front of that will be a longer row of vegetation that is pretty much there just to act as a snow fence.

    Now for shade I can do a few things. I can plant some bigger trees such as Spruce or Fir that will help keep the rain off the inside of the living barn, or I can make a trellis over the barn and use deciduous vines to help shade the interior of the barn in the summer. If I can find the right type of vine, maybe ones with broad leaves, it will reduce the amount of rainfall inside the barn as well

    The final design will certain have drain tiles that drain water from inside the barn where excess manure will collect and deposit it into a wood chip filled trench. Wood chips are unique in that it takes 7 years for them to break down. When they do, it gives your soil lots of nitrogen, but in the first 7 years, it takes so much nitrogen out of the soil to compost it, that it actually scrubs the excess nitrates from the manure reducing nitrate pollution (Over-manured soil).

    I don't think this barn will be much cheaper then a conventional barn, but it will certainly be "green". It will also never deteriorate though the plantings may require pruning and maintenance. I would also like to get some weather recording equipment and see what the inside versus outside differences are in rainfall amounts, temp and wind.

    Its kind of thinking outside the box, but what is your take on this idea of building a barn 'green'...literally? Will it work, or is it just too over the top? Let the darts be thrown...
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Pretoria, South Africa
    Posts
    52
    I will be following this thread very closely!
    _______________________________________
    Uys van Rooyen
    Pretoria, South Africa

    Uys is pronounced "Ace" - it's Dutch

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    North West Indiana
    Posts
    6,099
    I think your paralysis has kicked in once again.
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Posts
    12,264
    I am speechless. Did not realise you need to be the equivalent of a rocket scientist to be a farmer these days. I will watch the comments of those that can even digest all of these facts.
    cheers

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    Posts
    583
    Travis,
    i was reading this thinking, "surely somebody's done this before". I'm thinking about farming in very poor areas, or nomadic farmers and how they protect their livestock. People domesticated livestock before we had barns, right? So, i googled.
    http://www.maf.govt.nz/mafnet/rural-...w/snow0011.htm
    and
    http://www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFC-AAC/displ...1247368&lang=e
    and
    http://www.agroforestry.net/overstory/overstory85.html

    Looks like a viable option, but may take some years to get established. I guess one of the beauties of the barn is that it provides space for other things as well, like feed, a protected place for lambing, etc. If you have those bases covered, why build redundant space?
    And take it from your friendly neighborhood architect - you don't need an architect.
    paulh

  6. #6
    Interesting...all three links came to the same conclusions I did. In fact everything on my original post was designed for a reason. For instance the half round shape was there to buffer the wind as well as allow the sheep to enter. They are very nervous animals and thus hate corners. They will follow a curve, but enter a corner...not unless forced.

    The berm was no different then placing the shelter on the leeward side of a hill. Impossible in my situation, but kind of the same thing.

    Ultimately though it does make economic sense. If the living barn reduces feed requirements by 30% to maintain the same animal condition, that would equate to 200 pounds of feed, per sheep per year over that of open pasture farming. While 4 sheep is pathetic, it would still save me about 17 bales of hay, or about 51 bucks worth of feed. Since I want to have 150 sheep in 10 years, a living barn with that many sheep, would save me about 600 bales of feed per year. Or about,1800 dollars per year.

    If you plug in the 15% lamb mortality rate used in one of the links, even at a low figure of $250 dollars per lamb, you would save an 45 lambs with 150 sheep. (150 ewes with a 200% birthing rate, with 15% mortality on open pasture). Those loses would equate to about 7500 dollars, on top of the 1800 bucks saved in feed. (I used 30 lambs and not 45 because some lamb losses are inevitable and cannot be attributed to having a better birthing environment.)

    Of course this is an open pasture system, you would get the same thing with a conventional barn right?

    Nope.

    With a living barn that absorbed the excess manure, it would save having to swamp out the manure in the barn with a tractor and labor hours. It would also reduce pneumonia which comes from sheep living in high levels of ammonia from their own manure. The living barn would not only be ventilated, the carbon dioxide the sheep give off with each breath would be absorbed by the vegetation, and likewise the sheep would benefit from the oxygen given off by the vegetation.

    A person over on a sheep forum once told me this...dairy cows are high tech, high cash flow livestock. Sheep are low cash flow and low tech. The least amount of money you spent for their care, the more money you make. I am just taking every aspect of sheep farming and asking myself...is there a low cost alternative and better system that does not require diesel fuel and other expensive inputs?

    I don't think a living barn is as far fetched as it sounds.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Lakeport NY and/or the nearest hotel
    Posts
    5,533
    Travis,
    what size would the living barn be initially?
    -Ned

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Constantine, MI
    Posts
    7,892
    Quote Originally Posted by Ned Bulken View Post
    Travis,
    what size would the living barn be initially?
    Ned,

    I can understand how this concept might be attractive to you, no roof and all that, but I don't think your tools would like it. However, the need for dust collection apparatus would certainly be diminished.
    Host of the 2017 Family Woodworking Gathering - Sunken Wood

    “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk
    www.wrworkshop.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Lakeport NY and/or the nearest hotel
    Posts
    5,533
    Quote Originally Posted by Rennie Heuer View Post
    Ned,

    I can understand how this concept might be attractive to you, no roof and all that, but I don't think your tools would like it. However, the need for dust collection apparatus would certainly be diminished.
    I already Have a barn (with a roof), and no sheep allowed... thankyewverymuch
    -Ned

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Constantine, MI
    Posts
    7,892
    Quote Originally Posted by Ned Bulken View Post
    I already Have a barn (with a roof), and no sheep allowed... thankyewverymuch
    Oh, that's baaad.
    Host of the 2017 Family Woodworking Gathering - Sunken Wood

    “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk
    www.wrworkshop.com

Similar Threads

  1. Living In The Past
    By Jeff Bower in forum General Woodworking Q&A
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 07-27-2011, 02:12 PM
  2. Turning for a Living?
    By Vaughn McMillan in forum General Woodturning Q&A
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 10-16-2010, 04:44 PM
  3. Living Will
    By Bart Leetch in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 09-23-2009, 09:24 PM
  4. Must be living right.........
    By Stuart Ablett in forum General Woodturning Q&A
    Replies: 47
    Last Post: 02-13-2008, 05:31 AM
  5. Barn Razing -tearing down a snow damaged pole barn
    By Ned Bulken in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 04-23-2007, 10:47 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •