For The Love of Pole Barns, Part 2: Siting a New Barn

Reader Contribution by Mary Jane Phifer

The is the second part in a multi-part blog following our “adventures” as we build our much anticipated new pole barn. Click here to read Part 1. We made the decision NOT to build the barn ourselves and are using the same building supply and contractor who built our beloved pole barn house and tractor/hay pole barn. In this post, you will see we are making changes and adapting our plans:

As it turns out, where I thought the barn should go is not where it needed to go. We staked out the dimensions, pulled the diagonals to check for square, and drew a string level.  One diagonal was nearly 48” below the upper corner. That is quite a bit of fill to move around.

In the meantime, we got our first quotes on the project. Realizing we needed more lean-to space and a little less interior, we trimmed the barn to 28×36 adding two 12’ lean-tos on the 36’ sides.  Total footprint will be 52×36’.

The bid came in at approximately $14,000- labor included; the 12’ lean-tos are a significant extra, 10’ would have been much less but we already have 10’ lean-tos on the tractor barn, and they “almost” cover equipment, round bales, etc.  The extra 24” will be worth it in the long run.   Plans include two sliding end doors, 4 skylights, insulated roof (prevents that irritating condensation “rain”) and two walk through doors.  We may pour a 10×10 concrete slab in the corner of the barn or outside on the north lean-to for a future milking area.

(Right) The ditch to prevent run-off from flooding the new barn.  After a 2” rain we found the ditch works as planned.

Glenn mowed the paddock with the brush hog, then began to ditch just uphill of the site.  Our soil is thin, on a layer of crumbling sheeted rock, with a layer of clay underneath.  Water will soak into the soil and run off, following the rock layers.  Once the ditch was completed, we saw how much more level the paddock is at the new ditch.  Easy enough, we moved the corners of the barn west 60’.  Now the lowest diagonal is only 12-18” below the highest corner.

The cows will have 3-12’ bays to shelter in during the winter and we will easily be able to put two round bales under the lean-to roof for them.  The goats will be able to go inside the barn.  The actual floor space they will have is about the same as the current goat barn.  We could not see any reason to make it larger, which breaks the number one rule of barn building- always build larger than what you think you will need.

The picture is from an old satellite image before we even divided the field into 16 grazing sections.  The dotted lines represent the peak of the roof.  The working pens are currently adjacent to the old goat barn and the pipe panels, 10 and 12’ sections, are easily moved.

With the barn moved uphill to the west, the original paddock is now divided into two- the working area with the sweep tub and holding pens will all need to be rearranged and configured, but this is actually a very good thing.

Now we need to get up with the dozer operator.  Our neighbor has a dozer but he is behind on his hay and hay always comes first.  We figure a half-day (less actually) is all that will be needed.  We could use our tractor to push the topsoil around, but a trained professional is called for at times.  In the meantime, we will continue to do what we can to better tweak the plans.  We are even thinking that the site of the old goat barn would make a great greenhouse, and that we can definitely build ourselves!

Next blog post:  Dozer work

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