Saturday, February 18, 2012

barn progress

 Progress on the barn in the last couple of days.  The concrete slab has cured enough that we can run equipment on it and assemble the new barn.   My main tractor is out of commission, so I rented a backhoe to place the blocks.  The backhoe weighs more than my biggest tractor, and carrying a 4,000lb block makes a nice stress test.  Slab took the weight and load easily. 
 Sean's driving the backhoe, Dan is positioning the blocks.  He's using a rake so that he's at a safe distance from the block in case of chain or hydraulic failure.  What he does is spin the block until it's lined up in the appropriate direction, and then the block is slowly lowered into place. 
 The blocks interlock, and sitting flat on a concrete slab, they're pretty sturdy.  I'm using them so that I can clean out the barn with the tractor without having to worry about the walls getting messed up, and being in the flood plain, building a structure that won't float away or be damaged in the event of a flood.  I'm pretty sure that these ecology blocks don't float. 
 We're going 3 high on the side walls so that we can use deep bedding; I'd like at least 18" of chips underneath the pigs, and I want the side walls to be tall enough that even with that bedding the pigs can't get to the roof structure.  So 6' side walls of concrete blocks will do both. 
 We'll be feeding the pigs on one end of this barn; and in doing so today I noticed that the stuff that the pigs don't like to eat (onions, oranges, potatoes, peppers) get separated nicely.  That's very interesting -- the cows and sheep will eat all of those things. 
 I've been thinking about ways to sort the oranges and so on out of the produce, but the pigs seem to be doing that pretty well by themselves.  Which got me to thinking.   If this continues, all I have to do is scoop up stuff the pigs don't eat and present it to the cattle.  Looks like I'll be using the food even more efficiently.  I like that. 
The pigs are checking out their new accommodations.  A few scoops of wood chips and they're making themselves nests and squabbling about who sleeps next to who. 

I'll have the walls completed tomorrow.


craig said...

Looks like a pretty nice set up to feed your pigs keeping everything contained.
In hindsight,you probably better off using a industrial machine to move those blocks around. They tend to have heavier front ends and thicker steel to withstand load stress more than a farm tractor.

Tom Stewart said...

I have read your Blog for quite some time and you have access to a couple things I wish I could get!
Ecology Blocks and the Wood Chips!
When I have asked about Ecology Blocks, No one knows what I'm talking about. And the only place that you see them here is on the interstate, They are used as a barrier between the middle of the interstate!
And as for Wood Chips, All of them are trucked to the locale Horse Ranches in the area.

DoubleL said...

New to your blog. Looks like you got your work cut out for you with all the critters. I'll be getting a hold of you about some pork shortly. I'm also looking for some beef as well. Just started moving towards a more sustainable life. Lots to learn. Getting a handle on growing my veggies though. Greetings from Monroe!

Joanne said...

That's a sweet setup Bruce. I have lots of wood chips (a friend parks his chipper here and dumps most of his chips), but I don't have any way to handle the blocks. :-(

Robin J. said...

I really like that goose standing around with a chicken as a backup. Pretty hilarious.

Bruce King said...

Craig, you're right about using a backhoe to move those blocks. Backhoes are much more heavy duty, and lifted the weight with no problems at all.

Bruce King said...

Tom, you can find ecology blocks at any redi-mix concrete plant. They make them out of the loads of concrete that come back to the plant after being sent out to some job. In my case, there's a concrete plant that is not really close to anyone, so they sell them cheap to get rid of them. They probably have over 1,000 of them right now, so when I buy 70 or 80 of them, they're happy to see them go. And for $15, I think they're a bargain. They're not industructable, but they are pretty close to it.

Bruce King said...

Hi DoubleL, always nice to meet a neighbor.

Bruce King said...

Joanne: You can rent a backhoe (or maybe a neighbor has one and you can bribe them). They're not hard to operate, and they'll move the blocks around pretty easily.

you'll need a chain and a hook,and its a lot easier if you have someone on the ground to spin the block before you set it down.