Our timing for the move to Tennessee was seemingly perfect. Winter was officially gone (although it never really came), the grass was greening up, the days were getting longer, and baby goat kids were popping out of pregnant does everywhere. That meant we could get a couple milking does and their kids pretty much right when we moved in, and we did. The only problem was that we didn’t have much infrastructure to properly house the goats. We have some plans in mind for what our final layout will look like, but we needed a temporary solution. Thus came the temp goat house project.
The Temporary Goat Barn
We probably committed a crime worthy of capital punishment in Tennessee. We turned a man’s garage into a goat barn. Complete with milking stand and hay feeder. I get a good chuckle every time I think about the day that he comes to visit and sees what we did to the place. It hasn’t happened yet, but I know it will. Probably a couple weeks into me not mowing the “lawn”, he’ll roll up to say hello and damn near have a heart attack. Old guys that lived in places for a really long time like to see things the way they left them. Well, now you have a goat barn surrounded by natural goat food growing out of the ground. It’s a good thing these goats like fescue and clover or I might even have to reseed it!
Anyway, on to the barn. Our solution until we get a new barn put up is to split our “garage” in half and use one side for shelter and one side for milking and storage. It’s not really a garage in the typical sense, just a metal building with openings on either side. It's all metal with a wood frame and concrete foundation, pretty easy to work with. Pretty perfect for a temp goat house.
The first step was to build the frame for bisecting the room. We got some tips from family members, did some online research and built our first wall. Well, half-wall really. We made it out of 2x4’s and OSB wood. Then we fastened it to the floor with Tapcon screws and screwed the frame into the surrounding walls. Along the border of the interior we put up more OSB to make cleaning up easier and to keep the goats from damaging the existing walls. For doors we just used more OSB and eye hooks with latches. The doors need two hooks at varying heights because the goats love to put their paws hooves up on lean on the walls. We also left the doors at a ~4ft height, same with the walls, so that we could easily look into their area and reach over to feed, pet, scratch, etc. Turns out they like to look over at us too :)
On the concrete floor we put some lime down to help kill off bugs and keep pests away and then layered on wood shavings. In the corner we bent around some cattle panel and fixed it to the wall, thus creating an area for the kids at night. Mayday still has her kids nursing on her. If the kids are nursing all of mom’s milk away we wouldn’t have milk to make cheese and ice cream, or to put in our coffee and cereal. So we have to separate them. We don’t want separate them all the time though, just at night. This lets the kids hang out with mom during the day and they get to have their familial attachment and it also lets us get milk in the morning. 50/50 split. This is called “dam-raising” and we’ll post more about that decision at a later time. In the photo below you'll see their little sleeping area. At first we had to cajole them in there, now they just run right in. I guess it's like Kindergarten. First you're scared, then you just love hanging out without the parents around all the time.
So that’s the the inside portion of the temp goat house solution. Of course, even at night, we want the goats to have access to the outdoors. They're out in the pastures all day, but what about at night? They like to graze and hangout outside after nighttime milking, so I’ll post a bit more about our temporary outdoor solution later.