When we first moved into this property nine months ago as first time home owners, I had TONS of lofty plans for renovations and remodels. We’d put a native drought tolerant lawn in right away. Maybe refinish the hardwood floors. Oh, and upgrade the windows and doors and light fixtures and and and…!
I did NOT anticipate the first major project that we actually embarked on and completed to be “Build a Goat Pen and Barn”. At that time, owning goats hadn’t even crossed my mind!!
It all started when I decided to start weaning Tessa off of breast milk so I could give my breast milk donations to Thyme when she is born. (Click here to read about my breast milk journey.) The healthiest option outside of human milk to switch Tessa to (and give to Thyme as homemade formula if the breast milk donations run out) is raw goats milk.
But with raw goats milk running $32 per gallon in California, (that would feed Tessa for about 4 days!) I started seriously eyeballing owning my own milking goat. Turns out, it’s WAY cheaper. I’m talking.. one goat will pay for herself in less than two months. When we saw Tessa hugging and kissing some baby goats at the petting zoo, it kind of sealed the deal. We were just doomed to start our own backyard goat dairy.
So hubby and I jumped right into the world of urban homesteading! We’ve had the goats for about two months now (click here to read about my first adventures and mishaps in learning to milk!) and sometime next month we’ll be picking up a second milker! Because now we want to switch our whole family to yummy, organic, raw goat milk! I know, my head is still spinning, lol!
Check out some of the highlights of our goat barn and pen project!
While we still have MANY upgrades and renovations we’d like to see done in the goat pen area (wire up electricity in the pen area for lighting and heat lamps, build me a milking shade and hay storage shed, landscape around the outside of the fence, etc. etc…) we finally “finished” the bulk of the building of the pen and barn this past weekend! FINALLY!!
I plan on thoroughly blogging about the individual projects and special touches around the barn – especially the Homestead House Milk Paint Company paint that hubby and I got the privilege of trying on our barn and fence! – but for now, here is a quick glimpse of some of our barnyard imagery! I promise, MANY MANY more blog posts to come on this little corner of our back yard! 😉
First off, here’s what we started with! The corner of the yard we decided to place the barn and pen in was covered in about a half foot of years and years of natural oak, fig and pecan leave mulch from the canopy of trees overhead. And there was a half built and VERY UGLY little box of a shed that had some random tools in it when we moved in. This is pretty much what was in our home (exactly as pictured) when we bought it:
So I decided this would be the perfect base to make the goat barn! The weather is so great in Central California that having a drought free and fully enclosed barn really isn’t necessary. So we just needed a cute little shade and shelter, and this awkward looking boxy thing, if given a little love, just might do the trick! We tipped it over on its side, took the roof off (which we later used as the side shade for the goats to climb on!) and then covered it in new wood panels and some salvaged wood that was original to the property and that the previous owners had left behind!
Here are a couple of side by side images, to really get a feel for the total transformation! Keep in mind, the “befores” were taken in the springtime, and we didn’t finish this project till mid-winter, so forgive the pitiful looking leafless fig tree in the foreground! lol..
Here are some more details of our project!
We hung up some lanterns from the trees inside the barn, using old antique pulley’s from my dad’s house. One of the lanterns is from my childhood, when we frequented Ren. Faires and used natural candle lanterns to light up our encampment, and the other is a swap meet find that I picked up sometime last year. When we wire up electricity to the pen area, I’m going to light these guys up with some twinkle lights!
We also built a side storage shed onto the side of the barn, where I have a completely and thoroughly stocked goat supply closet! The wood is from original fencing on our 1950 property that we repurposed for the shed, and hubby whipped this up from scratch! The little closet holds the goat feed, treats, minerals and supplements, medicine, brushes, leashes, hoof trimmers, my goat wipes and milking bucket with milking supplies (all but the actual milk pail and filter, which I keep clean and sanitized in the kitchen!).. it’s a lovely little shed!!
Also, as an unexpected and very happy touch, while purchasing some old citrus fruit crates to use as a compost bin, I managed to locate a local barn in Ivanhoe, California that had been torn down, and the vintage shake roofing tiles were for sale. The lovely lady selling the crates threw some of the shake tiles into the crate for me when I told her about my project, and how I thought they would look darling on our storage shed roof! So now we have another thoughtful touch, and little infusion of local history in our little backyard barn! (I am considering adding the shake tile roofing to the main barn roof as well.. what do you think? Would that look good, or be tile roofing overload??)
I decided to put a couple extra touches around the pen, using antiques and vintage pieces that either belonged to my dad, my great-grandpa, and even some vintage pieces left on our property from the original owners! (For instance, I found the pig weathervane stuck in the bushes on the side of our house when we bought the place! lol! I eventually plan on replacing it with a goat weathervane, but until then…) The newest “old” thing in the barn at the moment is the old milking tin, which my mom and I found at a swap meet just last month. It was on my list of “things I’d like to add to my home dairy just for kicks” and this one is PERFECT!
But most of the elements to the decor and rich in personal and family history. The feeding trough (the galvanized laundry tin) is actually a family heirloom that I remember from my earliest memories of childhood.. I have pictures of me and my brother as toddlers playing and splashing around in water in that thing! (And yes, I shall be recreating those photos with my kids in the near future, haha!) And the horseshoe over the barn door is one that my dad had mounted on our old barn when I grew up having pet goats and chickens and miniature pigs! It makes our brand new barn have a feeling of warmth, love and history!
Once of my favorite elements to the barnyard is one that I will be blogging on much much more in the future… The water trough! My dad gave me the old manger that he built years ago, and a late 1800’s antique water pump we had on our property growing up. Jonathan and I rigged it up to a fountain pump and lined the wooden trough with pond liner, and now the goats can drink from a beautiful running fountain, with goldfish swimming in the trough as a natural form of algae control! It’s such a delightful sound, hearing the running water out in the barn as I milk in the mornings!
We took the roof of the original shed, and attached it to the side of the barn with a side door and ramp, so that they goats can enjoy sitting under the shade or climbing up and playing on the roof. They LOVE it! I’ve found that the tin shade is the perfect place to sprinkle their minerals for free choice grazing, and the shade works as a great place to put their food when it’s rainy. Also, it appears this makes a good jungle gym for human kids as well, judging by the reactions of Tessa and our friends children who came to visit last week.. they enjoyed climbing on it almost as much as the goats did!!
There are many more touches, back stories, and details that I am not going to show or address in this post in an attempt to keep it SOMEWHAT short and sweet (like my compost bin, the milking stand, etc. etc. etc….) so basically.. brace yourselves for future barnyard related posts and pictures in the near future! haha!