Barn Mangers – Rev 3

Over the past few years I’ve designed a number of different barn mangers for the sheep. The first was a slot feeder where the hay leans forward and the animals pull it down to eat it. I found this method resulted in a lot of vegetable matter in their wool around the neck area and large amounts wasted as they always reached up for new feed rather than eating what was in front of them.


The next feeder had a backward lean to the hay so that the sheep had to pull it up and into a trough to access it. They were much more efficient with the feed with very little vegetable matter in their wool. The only trouble was the dominant girls would butt the others down the length of the trough and not allow them easy access. They were bullies.


So after considering my options I decided to use an “V” style system in front of the manger made out of 2 x 4’s that would limit the sheep’s ability to butt the one to either side. This worked great. Happy sheep, better sleep


It was finally time to build the new mangers in our permanent barn and using the previous 3 designs I came up with this.



After selecting your front two points you can then use Pythagoras to determine your other two corners and build a square structure. I highly recommend this approach, even if your not planning on drilling holes for a permanent structure.



With the holes drilled you can plumb your posts using some base material without the need for a whole bunch of cross bracing. It is only a manger after all.



Squared up the next part of the manger is the trough for the feed to sit in while the girls munch away. We notched ours around the posts to help prevent any additional feed get between the boards and land on the floor.


Down the long edge of the trough will be a 2×6 on edge. This will act as a “ridge beam” to provide support to the trough board and a flat space so that any small pieces can be easily consumed rather than falling into a “V”



Here we’ve finished siding and have placed our angled supports from the “ridge beam” to the back post. This bit of cross bracing really solidifies the structure.



The horizontal slats are in, this is what the hay will lean against and force the sheep to pull the hay forward/up instead of down.



Some horizontal 2×4’s and some vertical 1×2’s will create the hold back in the manger.


Here we have the finished product. With any luck this will be the last revision for the barn feeders.


One thing I did learn about this design is you don’t need post anchors to secure the base. These could be built with just posts and moved easily from one spot to the next. There is plenty of bracing and strength/weight of the structure to hold it in place.



For those of you who can’t go without an animal picture.



My first concept for the front of the barn was a a prow style peak which would jut beyond the twin bay doors. Our master carpenter pointed out that the reward for the amount of work to complete the prow just wasn’t worth the time.


Considering our options and lumber available a king post style truss was chosen as the feature for the front of the barn.


The design and construction of the king post was lead by Bent Hammers very own Corey-Gill O’Wells. With the experience and leadership of a craftsman it went smoothly, just like the rest of the barn.



 Click on image to see a short stop-photography video.

Working together; Jeff, Cory, Aaron & Kaydon complete the featured truss at the front of the barn.


 We thought long and hard about the size of the barn but you don’t really realize just how big something is until the frame work starts to go up. I’m sure there won’t be a spare inch not in use when we’re done though.




Over the past couple days we completed the loft and rafter beams, a couple great milestones. Next week we begin working on the beams for the trusses and laying rafters.


 At some point I’ll have to strap on my camera and scale our monument like these two did in Vancouver.


Stood up

This morning was quite productive as we got underway erecting posts. When you have a skilled tradesman helping and directing your efforts it’s amazing how quickly you can accomplish your tasks. Thanks Corey!!

So far we have stood 14 of our 20 posts. Monday should see the other 6 stood and the start of notching our posts for the beams.


The very beefy and precisely built post footings my brother assembled.



Walnut tree side of the barn.




Road side of barn.

A barns worth

Over the course of June we’ve been  busy putting the sawmill to use cutting up much of the dimensional lumber required to frame the barn. There’s been a lot of hard work involved moving heavy pieces back and forth from the sawmill to our lay down which is located in a breezy out of the sun area.


6×8 posts for the centre aisle and wings. 2×6 lumber for framing of the rafters.


 2×12 beam material, 2×10 floor joists and a few 2×8 beams


2×6 for trusses and strapping.

DSC_00382×8 for beams and rafters.

For those of you interested in seeing the process of turning a raw log into dimensional lumber here is a short stop photography video. Forgive the lack of sound.

Triangling? It should be a word…


Footings are very very important, I hope you have a helper who recognizes this fact.


The Pythagoras theorem is key to ensuring your building ends up square. To think my math teacher told us we’d never use it again!

To Grade


With the use of the level my father-in-law left behind we are to grade with a flat surface to begin the work on our footings! There sure was a lot of fill in the front left corner, over a meter.

A pad at this elevation will allow for proper drainage and swale to be built on the driveway side of the barn so that water inside will not be an issue. It will also help to ensure that the footings are the same elevation with proper depth.

I need to keep reminding myself to take the time to ensure everything is level with a good base as this will set up the rest of the project. Its all so very exciting!

Monitor Barn Plans

The barn dream began about 4 years ago when we first purchased the property. We knew that at some point we would want to have a permanent structure to hold equipment and feed for the winter.

It was fairly easy to pick a spot that wasn’t too far from the house but also had desirable drainage, water is always a tough one to deal with, and access to the front of the barn was another concern.

Then began picking the style of barn; The Gable, The Gambrel, and The Monitor.

Each one has its advantages and useful qualities but because we are planning on having some areas of the barn where we can keep our equipment over the winter we decided that the monitor with its lower wing portions, potential loft space and additional center aisle room was the best fit.

Now just to find plans. There are all sorts of web sites out there willing to sell you full barn packages and come set them up for you but that wasn’t what we wanted. Then I happened to stumble upon the University of Tennessee web site with all sorts of great plans.

Here’s the set of plans we chose.

Barn Plans Overhead








Barn Plans Front









With the barn plans in hand and a very talented carpenter friend we went and visited our local building inspector to have him review, mark up any expectations and provide me with some advice for proceeding with the construction. He was also really helpful and fixed up the roofing requirements for our northern climate and snow bearing necessities.

With these drawings I can begin the layout of the pad and footings of the barn to determine the orientation and distance from our house/road before beginning work on the grade around the building.