The Sheep Chute…

Been thinking a lot about our animal handling situation and how to make it easier on us. We moved the main flock of sheep to the big barn and made it all nice in there for them. Problem is, that is where they were hauled out and sheared on Monday so now they think it’s WAY TOO SCAREY to just follow me in there. I tried all sorts of things but of course, I could get the boys in, but the girls, no way. They remember stuff like that and don’t forget.

So, I knew that I needed to make a sort of alleyway, a chute that I could block off and basically just push them down into the barn and shut the gate when I wanted to. But the problem was, that the big barn sits right at the edge of the big back meadow so it’s really impossible to push them into the barn, they just skatter all over into the meadow.

I knew I needed to put up a bit of fence. Something that I could contain them in somewhat and easily encourage them to go to the barn. But we’re fairly broke at the moment, just having a little dry spell and don’t have a lot of extra cash. (Getting by, just thin for sure…)

And we drove by one of my favorite spots for pallets and shipping boxes and OH MY GOSH… shipping boxes! They had about 12 or so out there, and 8 of them were all pretty much the same!!!! So I got to thinking… I could use those as gardening boxes, like raised beds, and then using some of the nasty old worn boards from the poultry barn rehab… I could make like slab wood fencing between the boxes! They would be great filled with barn compost, and heavy, so I wouldn’t have to buy posts or anything and all I would need was a bit of gas and some screws!!! How awesome… and we would get 8 raised beds out of the deal!

So we got up and out there and Uncle Rod said he’d be happy to bring his pickup and help out. He’s such a sweetie!

We got there and were loading up a few and all the sudden, out walks this fellow and I knew something was up. A new plant manager. Darn. He was super nice and said that we could take all we wanted today but that he had to stop the freebies from now on because he had a service coming out to get it all once or twice a month! Darn! The last plant manager had been putting ads on Craigslist and encouraged people to make use of the stuff, and he was aware of that, but he just would rather have a regular pickup. He was super nice and even had one of his guys help us load up a bunch. He helped too. It was nice. So we loaded up Blue and the truck as much as we could since this gold mine was now closed!

We trotted all the shipping boxes out to the back near the big barn. We wanted two near the middle yard fence, with space between them to make a little double door gate out of wood panels we got there as well. So we could take a wheelbarrow over to the lil coop or get the mower in, stuff like that. And we could easily walk through. We had a couple pairs of hinges (thank you Habitat ReStore…) and we spaced it all out nicely, and in line with the old barn foundation, which we would like to eventually make into a sort of patio area.

The plan is to fill the boxes with compost and dirt and grow stuff in them! Flowers, bushes, veggies, herbs… and yes, we’ll add a little protective fencing around them to make them less of an on demand salad bar for everyone! The idea is that eventually, the back pasture will be all fenced in and the hoofies will just be walking past them to go from the middle to the back pasture and won’t have time to stop and eat the roses.

We have this 4 foot pile of the old wood from the poultry barn and it’s not super nice but it makes good fencing, don’t you think? We used it in between the boxes, sort of as little fences. I thought about just putting the boxes right next to each other, but we wouldn’t have enough to cover the space, so this has to do. It’s really kind of cute looking, and once we paint it all up, I think it will be rather charming. I think I’m going to use more of the wood to complete the far north side, just for fun. Why not? Make it sort of a picket fence look.

The sky was super cool this afternoon… looking like it would like to rain, but nice and sunshiney as well! Pretty nice day.

It didn’t take us too long to get this all put together. Of course, we still have to fill in the boxes with compost… and paint them. And make some little protective fencing for the boxes! But since it’s still pretty cold around here, with a heavy frost and highs of only 45 this weekend, I think we still have a little time.

And the best part? It already works! Just for fun I let the flock into this new area and I’ll be darned, they just walked down the chute like it had always been there. Once I get the end finished, it will be a great way to get them into the barn without a lot of fuss and drama. Of course, Gideon had to hop over one the fences, but then he’s the biggest and strongest of them all, and just a little rascal anyway. Cody considered them as well and just walked past them to the back. Unless they are being rushed or in a panic, I think it will be an excellent way to gently herd them into the barn when I want to. And I love the fact that I get more raised beds outta the deal! Oh yes, and the total cost is like less than $5 for gas and screws. Love that!!!

More pictures will come as we finish it all up!

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About Mobymom

the banjo player for Deepwater Bluegrass, and the editor of as well as the main graphic designer of the Westvon Publishing empire. She is a renaissance woman of many talents and has two lovely daughters and a rehab mobile home homestead to raise.

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