Making do

When we packed away the tools for the second evening in a row, we were all tired. Fred the Corgi was sprawled across the kitchen floor. The boys were declaring they didn’t need a shower despite their dirty faces. Who knew building a livestock shelter was such hard work.

Luckily we had good weather and accomplished a lot. But we’re still not done. For the last two weekends my family and I have been preparing to get a goat pen lined out for their 4H animals that will likely be purchased in early April.

During the first weekend we disassembled what remained of the goat pen from last year. It started out as a 10- by 10-foot chain link dog kennel with a chemical tote modified into a shelter. I didn’t want to spend much on it since I’m not real sure how long the goat project will keep the boys’ attention. A thunderstorm wasn’t kind to it the week of our county fair and it took flight. At the time we did no more than drag it out of the driveway and keep it from blowing away again or someone running into it.

Earlier in the summer we’d tarped the top of the kennel to give the goats some shade and the tarp acted like a funnel for water and once it was drained it was a huge sail with our lovely western Kansas wind. It’s sat where it landed ever since, and secretly I’d hoped we could resurrect it to double as a dog kennel and get some of the dog hair out of my house. No such luck or ambition.

The boys and I salvaged what we could from the crumpled kennel and stacked the pieces to be ready for the next time we were able to work on it. In the meantime, we tried to get a game plan for what we could repurpose that we already owned and get without spending a million bucks.

This past weekend the boys and I again had time to work on it and I believe my husband made time when I asked if the electric post hole diggers worked. Good thing he was the one operating them since we’d both forgotten where the electric line ran from the meter pole to our house. Whoops. After 14 trips to the hardware store for bolts and drill bits we finally had a shell constructed.

While my husband was checking cows, counting calves and dealing with a prolapsed cow Sunday morning, we were tasked with finding more hardware and picking through the tin that’s fallen off the shed on our property that needs torn down. Thankfully the 9-foot pieces of tin fit on the roof perfectly without having to be cut, and we’ll have to pick through the pile once again to find some pieces to fit the bottom to keep the dogs from biting at the goats through the fence.

By Sunday evening we’d determined we probably ought to trash the chain link I’d saved from the kennel and find something else. Finding a woven wire that’s suitable is proving to be a challenge, but that’s nothing new when you have limited shopping options like we do in Dodge City. We might have located a possibility, but it’ll have to be shipped in.

I like to include the boys in on these kinds of projects because it gives them an opportunity to share their ideas on what needs to be done and how we can accomplish it. Chance was pretty excited to “wrench” yesterday and got to tighten a couple of bolts. Shaun showed me how to fix a bent nail when we were trying to get a stubborn one pulled out. And me, I got to show my lack of skills and messed up a time or two. Thankfully it wasn’t nearly that bad of a mistake!

What have you repurposed for a livestock pen/shelter or did you go “pie in the sky” and go all out with a dream facility? I’ll share a photo when we finally get the pen done.