For the next few weeks, we will be releasing previous posts from the old website.

The Redneck Shelter

By Ellen Akin

Every farm needs a good redneck shelter, right? I hope so, because we have one. It is the equivalent of a run in shed for livestock, but its relatively unusual because of the materials we used to make it. ?Since we have several different pastures/paddocks, we have to make sure we have adequate shelter for the animals in each pen with cold weather fast approaching and to some extent, already here. ?One of our make-shift goat/dog shelters was being torn up by Sid (our late Dexter bull) and our dogs. It needed to be repaired and improved. We did just that, using a few basic items around the farm: plywood sheets, tarps, metal fence posts, pallets, bungee cords, and straw bales, plus the universal farmers favorite: the versatile baling twine.

Anyway, Joel Salatin would be proud is the consensus according to my brother Tyler. It is a strange looking object, this shelter. We had originally chose to put up a temporary shelter in a small grove of trees in this particular pen, which is home to goats, dogs, sometimes small cows, and occasionally a chicken in rehab. Our redneck shelter is still in that grove.

 We put plywood across various branches of the trees, and pallets, standing on their ends, around one side. The plywood rested on the tree branches and the top of the pallets, and we secured it all using metal stakes (to hold the pallets up), baling twine (to secure the pallets to the stakes), and bungee cords (for anything else that wasnt secure by this point). From this degree of construction, we brought in the tarps, layering them on top of the plywood roof, and we arranged them to (hopefully) provide something that would shed water easily. We wound the edges of the tarps around branches and the pallets, and secured, again, with bungee cords and baling twine, because this is a no-nail piece of architectural ingenious. ?Next, Mom and Dad stacked straw bales, three high, around the remaining two sides (one side is used as a door/opening), for insulation, and I sealed the cracks with scrap hay. We pulled the tarp down so that it would cover any gap between the walls and roof. We hammered metal stakes in the ground to keep the straw bales stacked, secured everything, and ta-da. A redneck shelter.

But there was one small problem. We have a particular pyr who is rather energetic. I call her a bunny rabbit. She’s very athletic, and can leap and jump very well. So Maddie thought wed created a man-made mountain for her personal use. But we didn’t want her standing and jumping and generally tearing up our masterpiece.

?So in about thirty minutes Mom and I rigged up the dog-stopper. So far, it has worked. I guess metal stakes and baling twine were very good inventions, after all.

Note: Using Leaves, Straw, and Manure in a “Deep Bedding” Strategy

Since the weather really turned cold this year, we stopped mucking the horse area, and raking/scooping the goat manure up. Typically, we gather up all the manure in wheelbarrows, dumping it in one of our gardens or a new garden spot. Instead, we have added layers of leaves/old musty hay/straw to the horse run-in, goat barn, chicken coop, and… redneck shelter. In the horse pen, we still pick up the poop that is not under the run in and add it to the poop that is, spreading all of the piles out evenly. Every day the animals poop more, and at least every other day we add more leaves to their “bed area” or “house”, so that they are not laying or standing in their own manure. In addition to our own leaves we rake up, we will collect bagged leaves in neighborhoods to use throughout the winter. We will periodically sprinkle grain or corn kernels in the animals’ bedding areas, and next year, when we are raising feeder pigs again, we will allow the pigs to go in, and, in their attempt to find the grain, they will root and make broken-down, composted manure for us. We will then put it into our gardens. This idea came from Joel Salatin and is a wonderful, easier, economic, environmentally healthy, and clean for the animals way of dealing with all of the manure.