Wednesday, January 15, 2014

building to plan

The Bedford Book of Hours, 1423 ©The British Library Board
Noah running his crew, from the 1423 Bedford Book of Hours
©The British Library Board

Big news:

I have finally hired a builder to make another little shelter for the herd. Nothing elaborate - just a simple 10x20' shed - but I am pretty excited about it.

I've been actively trying to get this done since late Summer, but have had a very difficult time finding a carpenter. A very, very difficult time. I will spare you the details, because life is short and precious.

Now it is the middle of winter. Not an ideal time for building in New England! But we've been having extremely variable weather so far, and there is at least a possibility that we will have a few consecutive days of warm, dry weather between now and March, and the little goatbarn may be built before Spring.

Wouldn't that be lovely?

Just imagine: a tidy new shed, right smack in the upper paddock that I can see from the house. With partial interior dividers to reduce squabbling (I'm looking at you, Violet). Designed with lots of doors on one long side, to be left mostly open during good weather (like a run-in shed), but with the option of closing it all up snugly if necessary. And with a small section just for feed storage, which means I could get my workshop back.

Oh my!

Memory Lane:
This is the day I built the stanchion. This is my crew.
Behind, you see my workshop.
It is now filled with bales of hay and barrels of grain and sacks of loose minerals and kelp. And salt blocks and tie-outs and collars and feed buckets.
I can barely see my workbench anymore.
I miss that workbench.

Some hoped-for advantages:

Temporary kidding pens could be built within the general herd space, instead of in a separate paddock.

Daily feeding would be simplified, as goats, buckets and feed would be under the same roof. No more carrying armloads of feed buckets in and out of my workshop, through gates, in multiple trips, to multiple paddocks, twice every day.

The stanchion I use for cashmere combing could be moved permanently into the goat barn. So much easier than leading each goat to the stanchion in another shed, or dragging a stool into the paddock and tying each goat to the fence for combing. (By the way, here's a tip for when you start combing your own cashmere goats: outdoor combing only works on days with absolutely no wind. Cashmere is nearly weightless, and it is a disheartening thing to watch those little clouds of combed fiber floating away!)

As you can see, all these advantages are related to routine tasks that go on day after day, or season after season. Making improvements to routine livestock chores is hugely satisfying.  Whether it's something as small as finding a gate latch I can open with one hand, or something as large as designing a new shelter to help keep everyone contented and safe, this is the kind of change that I will appreciate and feel truly happy about, on a daily basis.


And even if we now have three solid months of snow and ice and bitter cold that make winter construction work impossible, I can feel confident that - barring unforeseen difficulties - the new shelter will already be in place by mid-May.

Which is important. 

Especially for two of the does.

Guess why!



  1. Oooh! New babies on the way? Your plans sound very exciting - I am angling for a new shed (though mine would only be 9 x 8) for my willow so I could weave undercover, but it's not forthcoming :-(

    1. Yes, I'm hoping two of the girls are bred. Time will tell! :)
      Oh, I do hope you manage to get your willowy shed! There's just something delightfully inspiring about having a dedicated creative space. I'll look forward to more of your gorgeous willow work!

  2. Quinn - I am of the unshake-ably firm conviction that one cannot ever have too many sheds - wherever they're situated on one's land :)

    And - combining everything in a central area works a treat, as we have just found out!

    1. Couldn't agree more! Sheds are very useful. Although, a big barn would be my ideal choice, but that is not an option. So I'll be thrilled to have another, bigger, shed ;)

  3. This is such a lovely glimpse into your life! I live in a townhouse community, with a few square feet front and back where I grow a ton of herbs and flowers and things, but to see these wide open spaces and animals and read your accounts is wonderful.

    Yes, anything that makes daily living easier and more pleasant while still achieving as much or more, is great.

    Your illustration: what is it? I'm pretty sure it's not the workmen you expect to have on the property soon.

    1. You are a far more successful gardener than I am, so I'll be hoping for your advice when the 2014 garden planning begins!
      Isn't that a great illustration? It's the building of Noah's Ark, from the 1423 Bedford Book of Hours! If you right-click on it, I think (I hope) there will be a link to the very interesting British Library website.
      Thanks so much for your kind comment :)

  4. Hi, I hopped to you from KB, love, just love your first outline of the new shed, love those little men toiling so happily, and a new building ,desk, table, or anything else that makes life easier is a blessing, My sewing table is in a storage shed right now, but it is the right height, no need to move anything off it, and was a real bonus. When your shed is finished, I can see you doing what builders do down here in NZ, hoisting the flag on the roof and " Topping it Off", a toast and a meal for all!!! Greetings from Jean

    1. Greetings, Nancy! Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment, and especially for the idea of "Topping it Off" which I like very much :)
      I have long dreamed of visiting NZ as it seems to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. I'm heading for your blog right now to enjoy some laptop travel :)


Thank you for leaving a comment! I enjoy reading each one, and will usually reply either here or on YOUR blog!

Due to spam, Anonymous comments are blocked. I'm hoping to avoid the annoying Word Verification gizmo! If you find you cannot leave a comment, please email me so we can try to sort it out.