Our First Homesteading Project! – Building the Goat Pen and Barn

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!





So what do you think of our goat barn and pen? Cute no?! Share your thoughts, ideas, advice or input below!!

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

76 thoughts on “Our First Homesteading Project! – Building the Goat Pen and Barn

    • 15 January, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      LOL, the response is either, “So cool!!” or… “Ummm, why?!?!” lol! Thanks for the enthusiasm! ^_^

  • 15 January, 2015 at 5:18 am

    Wow! This looks great… I’m loving the house you built! power to you girl… awesome inspiration!
    Kisses from Miami,

    • 15 January, 2015 at 2:29 pm

      Thanks!! I had so so SO much fun with this project!!

  • 15 January, 2015 at 6:34 am

    And I helped! Also, I thought the goat brush on the shelf in that one picture was a pair of wind up novelty chattering teeth…

    • 15 January, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      Well, of course. EVERYONE knows that the wind up chattering toy teeth are an absolute ESSENTIAL to proper goat ownership! Sheesh!

  • 15 January, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Oh my, what an idyllic situation you have there. I want to see it all. 🙂 I think the shake roof is darling and those lanterns are beautiful. Nothing beats the goats though. Aren’t they cute! Do they have names?

  • 15 January, 2015 at 11:07 am

    You guys have a goat. That is absolutely amazing. I love what did you do with place…barn looks so much better. Amazing project. Thanks for sharing. Kiss, Mel

    • 15 January, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks! The transformation floors me, since this is my first project as a home owner.. haha. I hope it looks as cool as it does in my head.. lol!

  • 15 January, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Your goats are so adorable! I would love to live with lots of goats and pugs and sheep and cows…:) And that water trough is brilliant!

    • 15 January, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      Yeah, the water trough is one of my FAVORITES! lol… I just love how it all came together! Thanks for your comment!

    • 15 January, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks!! We’re super excited about it!

  • 15 January, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    That’s such a nice project, and it turned out BEAUTIFULLY!! The pictures are gorgeous!!
    A lot of work, though, I suppose….


    • 15 January, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      It was, but it was a WHOLE lot of fun!! Worth every moment! <3

  • 15 January, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    this took me awhile to read – because so much info. and wanted to thoroughly read this. But that is really neat. I would love to do that – but we rent our house and also don’t think you can have animals like that where I live.

    I admire you for doing this though – takes a lot of dedication. and the goats are so cute 🙂 – great job on the renovations and will be interested in seeing more about this!

    • 15 January, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      Yeah, I am an animal lover so one of the BIGGEST perks for me in being a first time home owner is owning ANIMALS!! (I confess, I have smuggled extra cats into rentals before, lol!) You might check your location though, many counties allow goats if they are miniatures – they count as pets, not livestock! So owning a goat within city limits isn’t always off limits! <3

  • 15 January, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    Many congrats on your goats and organic goat milk, what an exciting venture! I used to work with a guy in the city who had what he termed “indoor/outdoor goats” that actually slept on his couch and watched t.v. with him. And I’d always think….hmmmm, how would that work exactly? I love urban homesteading!

    • 15 January, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      LOL, I could see that, if only because goats can be super sweet and act like dogs sometimes.. but I don/t know about house training.. did he put diapers on them?! lol! And thanks!

  • 15 January, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Wonderful! Such a great thing to have, milking goats. That barn looks great, too! 🙂

    • 15 January, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      Yes, I’m loving it!!! And thanks!! ^_^

    • 15 January, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      Awww, I’m glad it doesn’t look junky and too “homemade”.. lol! I was so afraid of that when I started out on this project!!

  • 15 January, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Your barn came out so cute and how adorable are your goats?!

    <3 Shannon
    Upbeat Soles

    • 15 January, 2015 at 5:28 pm

      Yeah, they are cuties alright!! Spoiled rotten too! ^_^

  • 15 January, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    The use of antiques added so much whimsy to the project! I adore and am inspired by what you have done.
    I brought up Chickens once to the hubs before and got that “oh my wife glare”… haha!

    • 15 January, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      Lol, chickens is where my husband draws the line! lol.. I just added an old antique wagon wheel to lean against the oak tree this morning! The goats like to scratch their heads on the iron spokes. ^_^ I am trying to have fun with the antiques, while not going overboard and cluttering the place up.. we’ll see how I do! Haha!

  • 15 January, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    I’m mostly impressed that you guys did most of the work in WINTER (not to mention with you being pregnant). You are like a prairie woman…all back to basics and junk. I still think you should run a wire up the rope that holds the lantern, that way that thing can hang there safely for years to come. The weather/wind will wear it out as-is super quick. Now you just need to get power running out there to shed light on things! Oh, and I vote for keeping the tin roof as is, it looks really pretty, and adds contrast to the wood roof. Well done.

    • 15 January, 2015 at 10:06 pm

      That rope is outdoor rated for HUNDREDS of pounds.. not to mention this spring when we wire out electricity to the pen, it will have a cable strung through it soon enough, hehe. Anyway, yeah, a lot of people are voting for the tin roof! And doing the job in winter isn’t that impressive when you realize it’s a CALIFORNIA winter, haha.. 😉 (And I made Jon do all the heavy lifting and hard work, so I can’t really brag about doing it while pregnant either!)

  • 15 January, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    Well this is a ton of fun! I have always wanted goats, for lawn mowing, for enjoyment, but I never really considered for milk! How smart. I do love raw milk but I’ve only had cow’s milk before.
    These photos make everything look fresh and exciting.
    I can’t wait to see more.

    • 15 January, 2015 at 10:35 pm

      The cool thing about raw goat milk, is that when it is fresh, it is literally indiscernible from cows milk! The acids that lend the “goaty” flavor haven’t yet had a chance to develop.. so far we are VERY happy with out investment!! <3

    • 15 January, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      It was mostly my husband who did it.. I just directed him. 😉 But thanks!!

  • 16 January, 2015 at 2:07 am

    Wow, this looks great! Beautiful pictures too!

    • 16 January, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks!! <3

    • 16 January, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      It was mostly Pinterest inspired, as most things are these days, haha! But it was fun brainstorming ways to transform this corner of the yard! Thanks for stopping by!

    • 16 January, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks!! We worked hard on it!! ^_^

  • 16 January, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Those goats are living the life, I’d say! Love what you have created here. So sweet and you really went all out. Wonderful you are providing for your family and giving these dear animals a nice life. Win, WIn!

    • 16 January, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      Yeah, they really are spoiled rotten, haha!! My daughter LOVES playing with them too!.. we’re creating a super fun back yard, that’s for sure! ^_^

  • 16 January, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    this was such a fascinating read!!!! i have no idea about any of this stuff, so i loved reading about it.

    • 16 January, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the post! <3 <3

  • 16 January, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    This is so awesome!! I’ve always loved goats- they’re so adorable!

    • 16 January, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      Yeah, people either love goats or they hate them! But when you see them being playful and frolicking, you can’t HELP but love them, I think! hehe!

  • 16 January, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I was trying to comment on how much I LOVE this yesterday but I don’t think my comment went through. This is an awesome project that came out beautifully! I love that you reused the already there structure and turned it into something so much better!

    • 16 January, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      Yeah, we are reusing almost every piece of scrap material and lumber that they left on our property! It’s kind of fun to brainstorm ways to use things without throwing them away! hehe.. It’s going to be a FUN summer!!

  • 16 January, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    What an amazing project, I love how you’ve incorporated so much of your family history into the goat pen. Goats are so much fun too, I always enjoy seeing them when I visit the local community farm. No room to keep my own though!

    • 16 January, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      Yeah, I’m trying to infuse as many personal touches as possible into the project.. I think my husband thinks I’m crazy! lol! ^_^

  • 16 January, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    Just a great FYI, I had pigmy’s and something they LOVE, get a big heavy bristle broom brush portion, screw it vertical to a post, THEY LOVE RUBBING AND SCRATCHING up against it. So cute to watch them, you just know they are smiling…LOL

    • 16 January, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      My hubby wants to do that!! We have brushes that we use to groom them, but I think they would enjoy a brush post! With stiff bristle brushes at the Dollar Store, I see no reason NOT to! Thanks for the heads up! ^_^

  • 16 January, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    The broom I got was at the Home Depot type place has to be sturdy, they are rough on things for sure. The first pen my daughter and I built didn’t hold up well, we used bender board for our horizontal boards and they love to rub and they popped right off… Dingy girls.. We fixed that up quick. They also loved running with my lab at the time on our 3/4 acre yard, real sweethearts for pets back in the day… LOL Have fun, they brought so much joy to my life after a 100 mile commute each way to work, they knew when I arrived home and we shared popcorn and a little coffee to unwind….LOL

    • 16 January, 2015 at 6:19 pm

      Yeah, our goats must be unconventional, because we kind of bent the rules on fencing and gate… from all the things I’ve read, we picked the wrong stuff all around. The fence is too short, the gate has HUGE gaps (on the sides and underneath), and it’s not woven wire, it’s welded, which has a tendency to break when goats jump on it. But our goats remain blissfully unaware of the gate. They don’t try to escape and are too lazy to try to crawl under the 6 inch gap under the gate, lol! And yeah, they love running in the yard with our dog Thor! It’s actually super cute to watch! I had Pygmies as a teenager, and they were fun, but I don’t remember them being THIS fun!! ^_^

  • 16 January, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    I am SO jealous. I have always wanted to keep goats, but we just don’t have the space at the moment. One day though. Such a great project!

    • 16 January, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      Oh trust me.. I want chickens, ducks, turkeys, quail, doves, bees, rabbits… lol.. I’m convinced we just need to move onto a farm! lol! ^_^

  • 16 January, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    beautiful pictures, Gingi! and such a great project. I bet you enjoyed it! and I’m so longing to visit home now…. Back home, we have similar place where goats roam around freely…. go out in morning and admire calm and quiet fresh morning breeze…. away from noise-y city life…

    • 16 January, 2015 at 7:06 pm

      Yeah, milking the goats in the mornings is one the best and most relaxing ways to start my day! It’s priceless!!

    • 16 January, 2015 at 8:15 pm

      Thanks!! <3

    • 16 January, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      Thank you! And you too!

  • 16 January, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    I am AMAZED at all the work you guys did! Wow! And it is beautiful too! I’m diggin’ that lantern, on that pulley. that is an special touch. I would like to see it lit :).

    • 17 January, 2015 at 1:34 am

      Yes!!! Come visit soon Diego! I bet you would have some awesome input for us for upgrades, because you’re crazy crafty like that! hehe..

    • 18 January, 2015 at 1:32 pm

      Yeah, I think they are quite happy here! I love those little fur balls!

  • 18 January, 2015 at 6:35 am

    This is really amazing!!!! I love all the photos. And yes, your barnyard is indeed wonderful. It looks so peaceful and refreshing. I love everything about it. It’s really great that you thought of “producing” your own goat milk.

    • 18 January, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      It really is peaceful! It’s a GREAT way to start my morning.. who knew it could be so therapeutic?! hehe!

  • 18 January, 2015 at 11:29 am

    You did a great job! The goats are adorable and your kids will really benefit from is as goat milk is extremely healthy. I used to drink it when I was a kid not I only buy goat cheese as I don’t think that much milk anymore.

    I wish I could keep a goat! I have the space for it but where I love it is illegal to have domestic animals in the city area (and I live in the city area). I think it’s really unfair. I can’t even keep chickens…and my garden is really large enough for me to ensure them proper accommodation. Maybe I should go ahead a buy a few and hope no one reports me to the police?:) ..

    • 18 January, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      LOL, you might check your city ordinances? Where I live, miniature goats aren’t considered livestock, they are considered pets!! Funny enough, I can have my miniature breed goats in the city, but I CAN’T have chickens, those are specifically forbidden! Which really sucks, because I want to raise my own chickens soooooo bad!! I’d try to sneak them in, but I don’t want to push it with my neighbors already being so chill about the goats, haha!

  • 22 January, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    You are soooo lucky!!! I’d love to live on a farm and have goats, and chickens, and cows, and pigs, and lots of dogs so that they could live a happy, healthy life. I love your photos and can’t wait to see more.

    • 22 January, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      I wish I could have all those things too, but we’re just a tiny urban house, and I can’t have much more than the goats and a garden, I’m afraid… maybe some rabbits in the spring?! We’ll see! hehe.. thanks for stopping by!!

  • 20 May, 2016 at 1:34 am

    LOVE THIS…just getting ready to start a GOAT HOUSE and get our first goats!!! My first thought came when Goat milk was suggested for my youngest son with autism. I wish I could FIND something that I could make original like you have done!!! I LOVE RED TOO!!

  • 28 July, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    Creative. What thought have you given to parasite control with your herd? You mentioned raw milk for your family. Avoiding the use of excess antibiotics and incorporating natural pest control methods are very important to me. Especially since we consume the raw milk as well. I love your design aesthetically… I’m just not sure it’s the healthiest design for goats.

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