Goat feeder screen
Posted by joeabbott on December 21, 2016
OK, I managed to build the goat feeder screen without taking a thumb off or any other serious gaffe. It took longer than I thought it would … not sure how long I expected it to take, but five hours is more than I would have guessed. But, it came out sturdy if not anything else.
Suzanne did a great job of cleaning up the tray and surrounding area. While I was working in a goat barn, her raking and scraping made building the screen something less than a filthy chore. Goats must not be too dirty because, with the exception of initially having them underfoot, it wasn’t bad. But I did keep all my tools outside, which wasn’t ideal. Essentially it meant that for every piece of wood, every cut, or any changes, I needed to walk out two latching gates and through a barn. But let’s look at the positive: I got my steps in and was able to work in clean air part of the time; I’ll call that a win.
Here was the original setup. It would have worked well if the goats hadn’t pulled the hay over the trough and onto the ground.
Here were the panels I was provided … after we cut them down to size. It’s good material and I plan on using this sort of thing at our home when we are ready for fencing. I’m sure it’ll be expensive, but it’s sturdy and seemed to weather really well.
And here was my work area: a couple sawhorses, a little benchmate (probably didn’t need it … or, at least I didn’t use it much), fourteen 8’ 2x4s, and a box of 2.5” screws. I brought a handsaw that I used to make all the cuts, a small router that I used to cut troughs in so the wire panels would be nested securely, and an assortment of other hand tools: a speed square, pencils/markers, a hammer, etc. Oh, and a dozen or so single-handed clamps. Aside from really wishing I’d brought my miter\chop saw, it was plenty.
The day progresses
Sorry for the low-quality pictures here, it appears the barn wasn’t created with photography in mind. I started by locking in the base in the trough … it seemed to be the best place to start: a known location. I aligned the panels with the existing ones and, once I cut grooves in the lower board, the wire panels locked right in and didn’t move at all. I had to use a length of rope to keep the panels from flopping over, but it seemed pretty secure even without screws holding the lower bracing in place. I’ll contribute that to the well-measured cuts! 🙂
Next up, I started with the top frame. I’m not convinced this was the right place to start, but it worked for me. The keys here were to make something level and to establish where the vertical end pieces would go. On the left side, this was easy: the wire frame ended within an inch of the wall; on the right side, there was about a 4-5” gap, so the 2×4 wouldn’t bridge it. In the end we put the right-side vertical piece about 1.5” from the side and it didn’t hurt anything … either aesthetically or structure-wise. The whole thing felt very sturdy.
The trick with putting in the top piece came when I had to attach it … sandwiching two 66” pieces of wood around the top of a floating panel is pretty tough! Suzy wasn’t nearby to help so I pat myself on the back for being able to pull this off. I guess sandwiching it wasn’t too tough, it was needing a third hand to actually put a clamp on the boards that made it a challenge!
I made the channels cut about 3/4” wide with the router. The wire is probably 3/16” or so, so the channel was huge in comparison, but I made it wide for two reason: I wasn’t convinced that I could measure in the low-light barn, carry the board out to the car to cut, and then assemble with the required accuracy, and because I was trying to align the parts I was installing with the existing structure having a bit of wiggle room to nudge it one way or the other was huge. It all worked out.
After installing one top rail, Suzy had finished all her chores … a sure sign that I was taking longer than I’d thought I would. But, it was nice to have her hands available on the right-side top rail … having both third and fourth hands made it a lot easier.
At this point It was time to add the outer vertical parts. I brought a level so I was able to get it reasonably straight up-and-down and, after the verticals were in, I just cut spacer blocks to hold everything the right distance from the feeder. As you can see, the right side “floats” a bit off from the wall, but I felt good about the vertical part hiding any sharp edges on the fencing and the gap being too small for even the smallest goat to get into trouble.
After this, it was just installing the center vertical (it hides the sharp edges on the panels … the panel was originally 16’ wide but I had to cut it down to match the spacing created in the original feeder screen). I knew I was getting tired when I originally made measurements in the barn, walked out to the truck to cut the wood … but realized I’d left my tape measure in the barn. And, on that same piece of wood, I had to change the battery in my cordless drill motor but, after swapping out the battery at the truck, left the drill when I returned to the barn!! I was getting my steps in!
But, the verticals went in fine and then I just added a top-cap to “make things look nice”. It really served no purpose other than that.
I felt pretty good about it being a quality product when I saw Suzy grab onto the top of the screen and use it to step up to look for any missing tools when we were cleaning up: the screen didn’t budge. While goats will be a lot less delicate with it than I’d treat it, seeing that someone could grab on like that made me realize I did OK in the “stability” department.
While it doesn’t look like five hours of work, it felt like it. That was one long drive home and the super-long shower afterwards felt fantastic. Neither Suzy nor I were interested in cooking dinner so we went out for burgers … and, after not eating all day, they were fantastic. And, with all those steps I got in, I didn’t feel guilty at all when I took advantage of their free refills on fries.
Thanks for dropping in. I hope your holiday is as well-constructed as this goat feeder was!