Building a Goat Barn

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Blog series by David Bareford updated 12-12-2014 08:37 PM 19 parts 40957 reads 62 comments total

Part 1: The Crazy Idea

07-30-2014 03:32 PM by David Bareford | 6 comments »

In 2012, my wife and our two daughters and I moved from Chicago to southwestern Washington state, outside the small town of Woodland where we bought a lovely five-acre rural property with a small but lovely house. We wanted a change of pace from the city and a chance to be more connected to the land and our food supply. It was this change that also got me into woodworking, after I inherited my grandfather’s hand tools. He was a building contractor in the 1920s and 30s, and his 1909 Diss...

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Part 2: Harvesting Timber

07-30-2014 04:57 PM by David Bareford | 2 comments »

Rather than buying posts from a big box store or even purchasing 6×6 timbers from a local sawmill, I wanted to use some of the alders and maples that cover most of my property. Without a broadaxe or adze, I have limited means to hew the timbers square, so I’ll be using them as roundwood. Fortunately, Ben Law’s book on Roundwood Timber Framing provides a great resource to plan it out. I am planning to rest the eight upright posts on prepared padstones rather than sink them ...

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Part 3: Preparing the Timbers and Digging the Site Out

07-30-2014 06:04 PM by David Bareford | 1 comment »

By the time of the first snowfall in December (again, I’m writing this months after the fact), I had collected enough timber for all of my posts and beams (with a few extras just in case) and about half of my rafters. With the help of Eleanor, my oldest daughter (she’s 9), I drawknifed the bark off the logs and stacked and stickered them for drying over the winter and spring. By April they had lost considerable amounts of water weight, but many of them showed some considerable ...

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Part 4: Finally Some Woodworking!

07-30-2014 07:21 PM by David Bareford | 1 comment »

As May rolled around and the weather grew nicer, I could finally get to work in earnest making the timber wall frames. I was planning for a barn raising sometime in later June, hopefully getting a dozen or so friends and family to help me set the wall frames up and to wrangle the 8 rafters for the roof. Through a co-worker who was tearing out her deck, I got a good pile of usuable 2×6 boards, some pressure-treated 4×4s, and some concrete footing blocks. I used the 4×4s and 2...

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Part 5: Retaining Wall Setback...

07-30-2014 07:51 PM by David Bareford | 2 comments »

The site for the barn is not dug far enough back into the hill. The ground is not yet level, though the slight slope that remains shouldn’t be a huge issue. The barn is going to have a dirt floor anyway (on the goat half, at least), and the slope might help drainage. Once I establish my lowest post footing, I can use that as a reference datum point to calculate the heights of all the over posts in order to get a level rings of beams despite the irregular ground surface. However, in r...

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Part 6: The Retaining Wall Saga Continues...

07-31-2014 01:30 PM by David Bareford | 3 comments »

So as I finished digging the hill back to the necessary perimeter for the barn, I also continued trying to find an alternate kind of retaining wall a bit less heavy than seventeen tons of stone. My trusty Home Depot Outdoor book included the suggestion of a post-and-board wall. Since I happened to have a fair amount of treated 2×6 boards from my friend’s demolished deck, I decided to sink my upper four posts into the ground (rather than sitting on padstones), cement them in place, ...

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Part 7: The Henges Go Up

07-31-2014 02:38 PM by David Bareford | 2 comments »

To start building the lower retaining wall, I needed to have two of my wall posts in place as the outer anchor points. I quickly realized that I couldn’t just drop a post in a hole: I needed to build the whole henge and install it as a unit. Why? Because of the mortise-and-tenon diagonal braces, I had to make sure that the mortise was the right height and angle to mate with the overhead beam and its adjoining post. Even though timber framing doesn’t have to be to the thousand...

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Part 8: The Circle Is Complete

07-31-2014 03:54 PM by David Bareford | 3 comments »

This post is a bit celebratory: the wall frames are completely up and the retaining walls are built! Here is the state of the project: And finally complete: And here is a long shot, showing HALF of the distance and elevation gain from my driveway: So now, on Aug 9th, I’m inviting friends and family over for a barn raising to add the rafters!

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Part 9: Attached Chicken Coop

08-01-2014 02:34 PM by David Bareford | 0 comments »

One of the design goals with the barn was to able to care for the goats, chickens, and the livestock guardian dog from inside the structure, without necessarily tromping around outside in the often-wet Washington weather. To that end, one of the back (uphill) walls of the octagon will therefore be common with one of the walls of the coop and provide access to nest boxes for egg collection as well as food and water containers. After a few free Craigslist lumber finds, I was ready to proceed...

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Part 10: Testing Out the Reciprocal Frame Rafters

08-04-2014 01:34 PM by David Bareford | 6 comments »

Inspired by Simon Dale's Low Impact Woodland Home, the roof for the barn will be held up by reciprocal frame rafters rather than a ridge peak or a truss system. This will allow a clear span beneath without support poles. Other web resources about this kind of roof can be found at the Year of Mud blog and at Green Building Elements. This weekend, I tested out the reciprocal frame concept on the ground ust to make sure the voodoo works before I tried it ten feet in the air. First, I brought ...

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Part 11: Starting on the Paddock Fence

08-06-2014 01:42 PM by David Bareford | 6 comments »

The barn raising is Saturday, so in the meantime, I’m attending to some other related things that need to be done, but that won’t get in the way of the ladders, braces, and people that will need to be in and around the structure in order to get the rafters in the air. So, I’ve been done smaller projects like building out the next boxes for the chicken coop, teaching my wife how to stack the rafters, etc. Another big project that needs doing is the paddock, the holding and...

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Part 12: Barn Raising Day!

08-12-2014 03:45 PM by David Bareford | 4 comments »

Well, the long-awaited barn raising day finally arrived this past Saturday, and my family in the area arrived to help. Wrestling eight 14-foot rafters was definitely a portion of the barn build that I could not accomplish alone. Of course, like any good barn raising, the family brought food, we grilled out, and we made a day of it. The first order of business was to explain to my “crew” what we would be doing. The barn’s roof is supported by reciprocal frame rafters, a te...

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Part 13: Purlin Madness

08-15-2014 03:30 PM by David Bareford | 3 comments »

After the rafters were raised and secured last Saturday, we moved on to attaching the purlins. These are the radial pieces between the rafters that will hold up the roofing material. In our case, these are fashioned from alder branches or saplings, with the bark left on, nailed to the rafters with about a 4-inch spaced between them so that there is room for the purlins on the adjacent sides to attach. It was great to have a “ground crew” of people to hand up purlins of the ...

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Part 14: Covering the Roof

11-11-2014 04:14 PM by David Bareford | 2 comments »

If you’ve been following this blog series at all, you’ll know it’s been a lo-o-o-ong time since my last entry. Rest assured, I haven’t been idle—quite the contrary, I’ve been too busy to think about documenting and photographing a lot of the work. But, here’s a catch up of the roof. Rafters and purlins make a great roof for a gazebo, but a lousy roof for a barn to keep out rain. The covering starts with burlap. While not strictly necessary, the fir...

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Part 15: Cordwood Walls at last!

11-11-2014 05:19 PM by David Bareford | 6 comments »

My wife and I have been interested in building with cordwood for almost 5 years now. Initially, we planned to use the technique to build our Washington home ourselves but we found great home that was already built that saved us the work. Cordwood masonry is a centuries-old technique that uses short, debarked logs (like you might use for firewood) set in mortar to form structural walls or else fill in a timber frame structure. It’s a great way to use woods that otherwise would not be ...

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Part 16: New Residents

11-11-2014 05:41 PM by David Bareford | 1 comment »

As you may have noticed in the last post, the barn is already occupied. True, the walls aren’t even done, but friends of our were thinning their herd and offered us a doe and a wether, so I asked for a couple of weeks and quickly built a 20’ x 25’ paddock and partioned the interior of the barn off to separate the goat lounging area, kidding stall, and sleeping platform from the human side that houses the hay crib, the feeder rack, and the access to nest boxes and feed/water ...

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Part 17: Windows!

11-13-2014 03:40 PM by David Bareford | 3 comments »

My daughters wanted the barn to be “hobbit-style,” complete with a round door. So, for the wall on the “human side” that will be visible from most of the property, I wanted to find a round window to match. Again through a free find on Craigslist from a floor and door company, I managed to acquire 2 beveled half-round and two rectangular door lites, double -paned: For the “goat-side” window, I was also able to get 6 15” double-paned squares from...

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Part 18: The Hobbit Door

12-10-2014 03:01 PM by David Bareford | 6 comments »

At long last, the only thing remaining was the door. Now, as I have mentioned earlier, my daughter Eleanor (10 yrs old) has read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and she really wanted me to put a round door on the barn like a hobbit hole. Well, as luck would have it, I found a free Craigslist posting for a company that had what appeared to be a side of a massive construction spool: it was a huge circle, 7-1/2 feet in diameter and 1-1/2” thick, made of of 1” x 6” pin...

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Part 19: Final Thoughts

12-12-2014 08:37 PM by David Bareford | 5 comments »

Well, it’s been a long road, starting from here: And here: And ending up here: I wanted to use this final entry on this project to talk about some of the many things I’ve learned, in order to maybe help out other woodworkers who might attempt similar madness. The Wins ——The journey of the building is important, not just the destination. Build what you want, how you want. —- Wow, did I learn a lot about working with roundwood logs! Be...

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