Building a Simple Pole Barn

Constructing a simple pole barn from fallen timber.

| May/June 1972

Although we'd had an earlier cold snap, it was relatively warm when we moved our ten new chickens (mostly to protect them from ferrets) into a cobbled-together shelter of cedar shakes, sheet plastic and chicken wire last fall. Then the November winds made the hens too cold to lay and we got a goat that needed a cozy home . . . and we realized that we really needed a fairly substantial barn. So Bear and I sat down and drew up plans for a 13 x 13-foot structure that would accommodate 25 chickens and a couple of goats.

We divided the floor space into a 4 1/2' x 13' chicken area separated from the goat section by chicken wire. The goats got a milking area 6' x 8 1/2' and a stall that measured 7' x 8 1/2'.

We designed a goat hay feeder that would run the full length of the barn wall opposite the chickens and a loft above the whole ground level. A 3' x 3' opening in the floor directly above the feeder, we figured, would make filling the hayrack a snap. The haymow access ladder we originally planned on never happened . . . instead, we ended up climbing into our barn's upstairs by way of the inside goat fences and the edge of the feeder.

Our storms here come from the southeast, so we positioned the barn with its 15'-high front facing north and it's 12'-high back turned to the south. On the north and east walls of the goat area we sketched in some 2 1/2' tall windows five feet off the floor.

With everything on paper, Bear and I stepped back . . . and realized that we'd have to keep total expenses for the building below $100!

Well, we live in the woods . . . right?! A log barn would be the cheapest thing for us to build. Winter was fast approaching, though (and we didn't have enough time to notch all those timbers), so we settled on a structure of vertical poles nailed to a frame.

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