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Using barns to maximum potential

Posts: 58
Location: Oregon Zone 8b
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I'm not sure where to post this so please forgive if I've posted in the wrong area. I know it covers a few different ideas.. I'm seeking pros/cons for and can't find much info online..

What interesting things have barns been used for, aside from barn yard animals of course? I'm seeking out ideas and inspiration to best utilize barn space and work with all the space, clay based soil and left over wood we have before spending money because money is tight right now.

About the barn:
It's approximately 700 sq ft barn. One side is like a garage, it's covered but no sliding doors so exposed to elements. There's also a small room with a door where we've been storing feed, and the previous owner left cleaning agents etc. Unfortunately there are a lot of spiders including brown recluse, which I've tried to rid of by "dusting" with DE but they seem to come back.
The other side is for animals; it has a sliding door at the entrance, with some gates for containment, make-shift 2x4 hammered at ground level to prevent animals from going under, and a loft that took about 3.5hrs to clean up and it's in good shape.
Presently we're using the exposed part for storage as we sort through boxes from our recent move in. We keep 2 goats in the night time, and probably will over the cold season since they don't seem to like rain very much.
We routinely see digging squirrels running in and out of this side of the barn (they tunnel under the metal barn walls) and unfortunately the traps are not working at a rate that is reducing the population of them.

The chicken coop has been working quite well but it's rather small I feel if we decide to get more birds. Should I add more chickens to the barn since the existing chickens tend to gravitate to this area and lay eggs there in the goat stall anyway?
Perhaps widen the stairs going up to the loft, or add a run alongside it so in the mornings when I let out the goats the chickens come down as well? at 10 sq ft per chicken we could have a lot more in the loft area and avoid the expense of building another hen house (we're limited on finances at the moment so trying to work with everything we have). What are your thoughts?

Growing year round like a greenhouse?
I notice it's naturally quite warm in the barn, and cozy minus the spiders. There's no light however other than what comes through the cracks from the sun. The room where the feed is kept is even warmer, and the loft sort of feels like a green house.
Is there a way, we could take advantage of this seemingly constant warmness using grow lights, we could build raised beds (or maybe just layer compost/manure/wood chips and plant in that!)? How about put in an aquarium (maybe a free/cheap one from Craigslist) and begin aquaponics- lesser energy to keep water at ideal temperatures for tilapia/edible fish due to it already being warm?

How about several bins for vermiculture?

More goats and a miniature cow - definitely on the radar for possibly March 2013 if life permits.
Posts: 308
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You are so lucky to have a barn to start with! Don't worry, you will find a million uses. The heart of a farm.

Depends on how many acres and what you are growing, but don't underestimate the needed amount of covered storage for equipment and gear / supplies. Secure feed room is a great idea. You might want a covered, dry area with cross breeze as a drying area...herbs, dry beans, curing onions, other root crops before they go in your root cellar. Early barns had floor area used for threshing...could be a good use again if you decide to grow your own small grains. You might do some seed cleaning as well with a little fanning mill, and have seed storage areas. Livestock shelter, especially for lambing / calving time etc. Dry hay and straw storage in the loft, close to where it's needed (and provides insulation)..just be aware of the fire risks and watch for putting in wet hay. Opens up the possibility of putting up loose hay without having to bale everything. Opens up the possibility of working your land with draft animals, as you have a convenient place to store feed and tack, to feed and to tack up.

As you plan it keep expansion in mind, someday you might want to add on a shed addition on one side or the other.

Yes i've seen chickens given the run of a sheep barn, with access to the hay loft...it seemed to work fine.

bill archer
Posts: 58
Location: Oregon Zone 8b
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Thanks Kari, I'm going to try and post some pictures as well one of these days.
Ideally we could produce 80% of our and our animal's nutritional needs but I'm realizing it's a long way ahead.
We'll start with chickens and once we have that down try growing specifically for the goats. Fire is definitely a concern, which is why I'm sort of having second thoughts on grow lights but the warmth and slight humidity may help as well.
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