My Favorite Outbuilding
This is my favorite outbuilding on the farm. I built it about two years ago back when I was still raising dairy replacement heifers. Before that we started them in the old bank barn behind this one, but it is damp, dark and cold in there, and we had a lot of problems with sick calves. The idea with the greenhouse barn was to improve lighting and ventilation. The ridge actually has a 12" vent that runs the 40 foot lenghth of the barn. The vent is covered with a raised roof, which i got the idea for from the icehouse on the farm museum I used to work at. The roof is white greenhouse plastic held onto 2x6 rafters with furing strips. If I remember correctly this plastic is supposed to let in 60% of the sunlight. I was afraid it would get too hot with the clear plastic. It's guaranteed for four years, but I have had some on a plant greenhouse for 6 years now and it's still in great shape. The pitch of the roof is steep enough that the snow slides right off. The only thing I don't like about this roof is that it really flaps when the wind is blowing, but we have not actually had any damage. It's just the idea that it sounds like a kite on a windy day that makes me hope it doesn't act like one. The sides are 6 feet high and built from 1x6 hemlock boards nailed onto the locust posts. I got the fill that it is built on from PennDOT when they were ditching the road we live on. I think the construction costs were about $1000 not including the water line. A lot of that cost was the hardware for the sliding doors in the gable ends (small one on the west side and a 12'x12' on the east end.
Last year we raised some dairy steers in there, as you can see in the picture. This year its got pigs in one half and laying hens in the other. We like to use a deep bedding pack under our livestock and just keep adding any form of dry carbon we can get our hands on, like newspaper, woodchips, or junk hay, to keep the critters clean and dry, and to absorb the manure. After this bedding pack composts, usually with the help of the pigs turning it, then we clean it out with the front end loader trractor and spread the compost on our pastures and hay fields. I might try growing some early tomatoes in the complost inside this barn this spring after the livestock go out on pasture.