Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2 years after: Building a corral and notes

I built a corral and loading facility at my farm so that I can easily move animals in and out of the property.  It's a full, formal corral and loading chute, with a crowding gate and sorting capabilities.  You can see it being constructed in various entries: 1, where I talk about what I've learned about corrals and materials, 2, where I talk about the overall design and goals, 3, where i talk about the cutting and sorting gates and the chute design, and 4,  where I talk about the ramp itself, which was probably the most challenging part of the project. 

I've found that this corral has been very useful.  Having a securely fenced, hard-fenced, area is in my opinion a necessary part of every farm.  Being able to keep and contain an animal securely has meant that I could sleep at night when I had a breachy cow, or when I purchased new stock from the auction, or just wanted to separate the males from the females to time the breeding. 

This particular corral, after two years of use, has had a buildup of manure and chips and hay that's probably 2 to 3 feet deep in places.  And the design isn't one that allows a tractor to get in to clean it out.   What to do? 

 Enter the mini excavator.  Small enough to be towed around with a pickup and get into small spaces, but big enough that you can do a lot of work with it in not much time.  
 Opening the gates, it drives in, and with a little bit of care you can scrape within inches of fences and gates, and lift material over and out to dump it, or scrape it all into a pile, like I'm doing in the picture below. 
 The material itself is pretty much composted; a few wood chips and bits of hay remain, but it's mostly just black soil after two  years.  I'm going to guess that there were 50 yards of dirt that I scraped out in a 6 hour excavator session -- it took longer because of the tight quarters. 
It's a bit annoying to have to use different equipment to clean; if I were to design this corral again, I would have made the spaces larger, and allowed more turning room and straight shots for equipment to get in and out, but this works, and it's good for another couple of years now, so it's not that big a deal. 

I'll be cleaning ditches and digging in water lines and doing other end-of-year tasks with this little beauty.  It's really pretty fun to operate.  like having a bionic arm.  Liking it a lot. 

1 comment:

Hostetter said...

Ok so the design could be better. With the equipment you have and knowing what you know how would you design your corral if you were starting from scratch.