Welcome to our crazy experiences in setting up protections for our homestead. Here I will talk about the structures we discovered were most beneficial as well as the animals we found most helpful. These were chosen to keep wild life from destroying the vegetation we wanted, to keep predators from taking our fowl, to keep poisonous snakes off our 6 acres and to intimidate all would-be intruders meant to do us harm.
We started with regular field fencing around the parameter of our 6 acres. It was costly and time-consuming to set up because of the way our land was structured, i.e. with several knolls, some ditches and the ever-flowing creek in the back. We had to use a "2-ton come along" to stretch the fence and had to cut some ends in a slant to accommodate the lay of the area. To our detriment we started out using the cedar trees that had been growing here. (They lasted only a few years before rotting, even though they were buried 2+ ft deep. We had not known to take the bark off prior to putting them in the ground, though I'm not sure that would have helped much.) We winded up replacing these posts with treated fence posts and metal T-posts alternated. One of the wisest things we did was set the "regular field fencing" up 6" off the ground and use 8' posts. We had divided our 6 acres into 3rds with the middle 3rd being for a large vegetable garden and fruit orchard and ran the fencing accordingly. (After a few years of watching deer destroy our crops, we added a layer of welded fencing wire on top of the field fencing that encircled the garden/orchard, creating a 9' wall that hung over toward the outside. This stopped the deer; however, it did not stop the squirrels, coons and rabbits. Nor did it deter snakes that wanted our eggs and hatchlings.)
Our next major tasks were housing for the animals; and we wanted these adjacent to the garden for convenience in composting. The barn for the goats was the largest and most complicated, as can be seen below. One structure was a very large shed (32' x 32') that we divided into a chicken house, a slaughter pen, a wood shed and a tool shed. Adjacent to this multi-purpose shed David built an 8' x 12' garden shed. (This may sound like a lot of sheds; however, even with this many, I never seem to have enough room to put everything.)
The barn was structured so as to provide a way to divide it internally whenever one or more of the goats needed some seclusion. We, also, needed a place to store winter hay; and it had to be high enough so the goats could not reach it. This barn, also, needed a milking area and a place for me to process the milk into what we would use in the house. A collage below shows some of the internal structures. The loft area is not readily seen; but if you look at the 3 layers of roofing, it is the highest roof that covers the loft. This loft has utility wire all around it just under the roofing rafters for ventilation and is open on one end as well as the internal side for the same purpose. This type of ventilation (and the fact we never set our hay on the floor but place them on 2x4 boards instead) has done a good job of keeping the hay from spoiling. The milking area has metal barrels in which all grain is stored. It has a milking stauncheon I designed for problematic milkers...oh yes, I've had a few! The processing room is still full of things we had to store; however, we added a "processing center" (15' x 18') at the back of this barn strictly for processing our bloody meats each year.
The area for chickens (16' x 16') was subdivided several ways. We put a regular roof over 6ft of it for the housing and covered the pen part with rubber coated wire that would not burn the guineas' feet during hot days; but would keep our predators. We divided the housing portion with a door that we could shut & a 2-1/2 ft unmovable, solid wood divider at the bottom of this door. The divider keeps the geese away from the chicken feed; and by shutting the door, we have a secluded area for brooding when it is needed. [This brooding side is prepared in such a way as to slide a 2-1/2 ft of solid wood all along the 8 ft length as well as a way to divide that area for permitting two brooders to go simultaneosly. Electricity is ever available for this area.] The chicken pen (16' x 10') was initially fenced with regular baby chicken fencing, which proved inadequate. After losing quite a few fowl to predators, i.e. snakes, racoons, possums and foxes, we placed utility wire (1/4" holes) all over the regular baby chicken wire. Then we plugged all the holes between the roofing rafters with either utility wire, OSB board or a rolled up ball of chicken wire. This has worked well for years now.
During the construction of all this animal housing, we realized a need for some type of canine to alert us to what was going on over these 6 acres and since training these dogs was quite an experience, I have given them their own page; and the link to that page can be found at the top of this page.
..........need "homestead" blogger here...