We got a bit of snow a couple of nights ago and it did a little damage. Nothing catastrophic, but it wasn’t a lot of snow.
Just before we bought the sheep, I knew that I would need to build them some sort of shelter. I seem to be stuck with the idea that 2x4s are the only medium for building. I needed this shelter to do two things. It needed to cover sheep and it needed to be portable since we keep them in a portable electric fence that we move around every few days.
I went to Home Depot and looked at 2x4s and metal roofing. Then I went and looked at wheel burrow wheels. When the nice ‘associate’ came to help me we couldn’t figure out how to attach the wheel to the 2x4s. We would have eventually figured it out, but before it came to that, I realized that my structure was going to weigh hundreds of pounds and Id be trying to roll it over rough terrain, mud, stumps and whatever else is in my yard. I gave up and went home with an empty car.
I eventually found a plan on the web that had a simply 8’x8′ square made of 4 2x4s and then used cattle fence panels bent over the top with a tarp to cover it. It’s not the most attractive, but it seemed like it would do the job. It was light weight and for mobility they cut a corner off the bottom 2x4s to create a sort of sled. Add rope and it’s mobile… if you pull hard enough.
I went with it and it didn’t look nearly as trashy as I thought it would. Here is the final product.
A couple of things that I noticed. First, the cross members between the sleds are a bit too low and I get high centered… a lot! That is OK because I’m working on building a bigger engine for this thing (meaning I’m getting stronger and more capable at pulling this thing) The other problem that I have with it is that the ram (Battery is his name) likes to rub his head on and ram the corner posts. He has bent the posts significantly. There are some things we can do about the ramming. We’re looking into getting him a visor of sorts so he can’t see in front of him, I have heard this helps to make rams much more docile and less likely to ram since they can’t see directly in front of them.
Oh, the other thing that I noticed was that the sheep NEVER used it. It could be pouring down rain or even snowing and those animals would not go into the shelter I built. That changed eventually, but for the first several weeks they never set foot inside.
Then it snowed. I was thinking that this design was ingenious because any snow would fall off because it was a fairly flimsy arch design. I thought that nothing would stick to the side of something that moved so much. I was wrong. Now I like to blame the damage to the structural integrity caused by the ram on the collapse of the shelter, but I really doubt he was the sole cause. In any case, I woke up to a couple of inches of heavy snow and when I looked out the window, there was a horizontal line of darkness instead of a hoop structure. It was flat.
I went out and swept the snow off and pulled really hard to get it back ‘upright’. This was as good as I could do. And no, this photo was not photoshopped. I realize that it looks like I simply grabbed the edge and stretched it to the right, but really, this is what the structure looked like.
It also tore some screws out of the 2x4s and caused some other problems, so I ended up rebuilding it last night. It’s not any different than the original, except I’ve used the same cattle fence panels that are all bent up (I got it fairly straight though). Hopefully that was the last snow of the year and I won’t have to worry about that again until next year. I have planting to do today, so I can’t be worrying about sheep.
And how do I prevent this from happening next year? Oh, and when it snows my electric fence grounds out. That is something else I need to find a solution to. hmmm.