It has started to fall cooler here in central Portugal with the prompt arrival of Autumn this week. Cherry leaves are turning into a sea of pale chartreuse and the nights are drawing in rapidly and are becoming chillier and chillier. The woolen coats of our sheep have grown full and thick for warmth during the winter but their coats can only protect them so much. The time has come that we must start to consider building them a more permanent housing structure.
Unfortunately our neighbour just recently lost a large portion of his sheep flock to wild dogs, and he must now consequently keep his sheep on a different farm. He warned us to keep a watchful eye over our little flock and so we have been bringing ours down close to the house at night for security in a temporary home we had made for them. Luckily, none of our sheep have fallen victim to the dogs yet and whenever there is a noise at night we have been close enough that we can dart outside with torches and check up on them before any problems occur. The dog sightings have died down somewhat in the recent weeks and there have been hardly any dogs spotted in the area, perhaps the dogs have moved on as the sheep across the way have, sadly, now all gone.
So our attention has been focused on preparing a more secure housing solution this week and we have been working hard on planning and getting the first stage of our pole barn underway.
A couple of weeks ago my father took the first step in our little project and planned out our barn, we only have a few sheep so we do not need a very large barn. We would however need a section for storing bales of hay and straw and also a lambing pen, or perhaps fencing that could be moved around inside to create temporary lambing pens. We opted for a single pitched design that would be 6.50M long and 4.50M wide. there would be a section inside for storing bales, segregated from the sheep and this should give ample space for all the ewes during the night and also for lambing season.
Once we had everything planned out we headed down to the wood yard and ordered all the wooden posts, beams and batons. The wood was delivered a few days after delivery and we set straight to construction, wasting no time! We placed string lines down and dug all the necessary holes in the positions where we would be placing the 11 upright beams. We spent a good day or so stringing up and making certain the posts were exactly where we needed them to be.
When the uprights were in place and everything measured up correctly we braced them up, cemented them in and left them to set. The next day when the posts had set we took the braces off and began work on the beams to sit atop the posts. This was a difficult job and had to be done with caution as they were very heavy and needed to be lifted upon ladders to a height of 2.60M, luckily between Lloyd, my father and I we had them all cut to size and up into position in no time.
Yesterday we had the beams all secured in place and all the brackets were put up to hold everything rigidly. The posts and beams were all stained up and we placed the batons atop the structure and loosely laid them into position.
Today we purchased the roof tiles and we expected to have them all secured upon the batons, unfortunately however we were faced with a very wet day (which we did indeed welcome as the land had been so dry after the summer months) and instead after getting fairly drenched, our tired achy bones decided it was best to call it a day and Lloyd and I went out to buy some materials so we would be ready for the beginning of stage two tomorrow, we are really rather pleased with the builds progress so far and we hope our sheep will be too!