oldhorseman (oldhorseman) wrote,

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Low-Nonsense Doomsteading: Layout.


   I've lived on about a dozen farms, and worked on hundreds of others.  This experience has taught me that overall layout is one of the most important, yet overlooked features of a working farm or ranch.

   People tend to go with what they know.  Given fifty acres, folks who didn't grow up on farms will tend to stick a typical half-acre, suburban home right on the road frontage, then fling a fence around the rest of the property.  After that, it's usually catch-as-catch-can.  Stick a barn out there somewhere.  Paddock here.  Corral over there.  Round pen off yonder.

   And it's a mess.  Always inefficient, often dangerous.  Having to drive through pastures on the way in and out from the house. (Risking livestock escape every time you go through the gate.)  Having to go through multiple occupied enclosures to retrieve an animal from another.  Thigh-deep muck around the barn from critters hanging around there.  Inability to do a head-count because half your 'pasture' is forest.  Trucks getting stuck, or stuff getting run-over because there was no decent place to turn-around.  Lack of security and privacy.

   Being an Old Horseman, my layout preferences are a bit on the equestrian side.  Shown here not as a template, but to demonstrate how a bit of forethought pays-off.

   Notice that the working part of the doomstead is well back off the road, surrounded by woods, out of sight and mind as far as passers-by and even neighbors are concerned.  (If you can see anything but trees or an old gate on a beat-up rocky road, you're already trespassing.)  Trees around the perimeter of the enclosures provide shade for our animals without making it hard to locate them.

   The five adjacent paddocks can be used as five one acre paddocks, one five acre paddock, or any configuration in-between.  The gates separating them are easily removable so they don't create any hazard to the stock when left open.  None of the gates are in the corners, where the 'pressure' from animals is often greatest and gates are more likely to be forced.

   The main pasture opens into a smaller holding paddock.  It's much easier to lure or drive hard to catch animals into the holding paddock than it is to get control of them in a huge enclosure.  (This is the one place where there's a corner gate, so that such animals can be 'funneled' into the holding paddock.)  The holding paddock can also act sort of like an airlock, so that you can get animals, vehicles into and out of the main pasture without the critters therein escaping into the barnyard.

   The barnyard itself is the primary 'airlock'.  All the enclosures have gates directly into the barnyard.  You never have to go through one paddock to get to another.  Animals pushing through a gate are still contained in the barnyard.  (Still amazes me how common it is for places to be set-up so that one unlatched gate or slipped halter lets animals make a break straight out to the highway!)  Yet the barnyard is normally free of loose livestock, so that the area around the buildings doesn't stay churned-up by hooves, the solar panels don't get wrecked, etc.

   There's room to turn-around trucks and tractors in the barnyard, as well as at the 'front' gate.  Every enclosure has a 20' wide gate for vehicle access.  Just because you don't see why you'd want to get a big truck in there right now doesn't mean the need won't arise in the future.

   The well house is in the middle of the barnyard, so that you can reach the barn and most troughs with the minimum amount of hose drag.  (More on that in the Water section.)

   Any layout will need to allow for later adaptation.  For instance, our holding paddock was reinforced for double-duty as the the nursery paddock for mares with new foals.  Paddock #5 was re-fenced as the dedicated bull pen.

   Of course, you may not be starting out with raw land.  (And having some of the fencing and building already there can be a nice head start.)  But try to think ahead as you add to the place, so that each modification will contribute to a functional overall layout as you go.

Tags: #5, doom, doomsteading, latoc, low-nonsense doomsteading, social collapse

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