Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How to Make a Shade Shack from Corral Panels

Back in January when our young bull Crown Royal was coming, we needed a temporary shelter for him while he was in quarantine.  So we cannibalized our round pen and turned it into The Royal Hilton.  It served Royal well and kept him quite cozy during the two polar vortexes, and I kept it picked clean easily enough.  But once we didn't need the coziness any longer, keeping a gated shelter full of straw just encouraged cows to loaf there and turn the straw into a heap full of manure and urine that was be impossible to clean out with a pitchfork.

I wanted to clean it up with the harrow, but that meant the shelter had to move.  Siobhan was in the pasture at the time, and she clearly enjoyed the shade, understandably so since the only grove of trees hadn't leafed out yet.  So I decided to move the shelter to a less-visible corner of the pasture and transform it from a temporary stall into a permanent shade shack.  There was no way Herb would have time to help me, so I decided to do it myself.

How to Make a Corral Panel Shade Shack in Eight Easy Steps . . .
. . . or lots more, if you don't think things through first!  I'll give you a few hints to make sure you get your project done in eight steps instead of more.

  1. Make sure all the panels you want to use are straight.  Rust is okay, bent is not!  It's much easier to go find a straight panel first instead of single-handedly heaving a crooked one on top of your shade shack, trying it on both sides--then still having to take it off and go get another one.
  2. Get everything you need before you start.  I ran out of rubber bungies and had to make a trip to Ace Hardware to get more.
  3. Have something handy to tie down the tarp on a windy day if you're working alone.
  4. Turn panels upside down and slide them if you're alone, or even with two people.  They slide over the ground much easier than you can pick one up and carry it!
  5. If a panel had something wired to it like some of mine did (12' long 2 x 12s), be smart and remove it before you try to drag the panel--and especially before you try to turn one upside down to move it.  A 12' long 2 x 12 falling on your fingers does not feel good!
  6. Collect every tool you think you might need and take it into the pasture in your Kubota RTV, if you have one.  The bed makes a great place to keep tools handy.  If you don't have one, get a wheelbarrow or a wagon.

Step 1 - Drag a 10' corral panel to the corner and lean it against the fence.  If you kept the plywood sheet tied on like I did you can save an extra step.  (Sorry there are no step-by-step photos, but I couldn't figure out how to take them while I was dragging those heavy panels by myself!)

Step 2 - Drag a 12' corral panel to the corner and lean it against the back panel.  Use the connecting pins to hook them together.  (I left the heavy 2 x 12s on, but since we aren't going to put bedding in the shade shack, they serve no purpose.  I should have removed them and made life easier!)

Step 3 -  Drag a 10' corral panel (if you're out of 12' ones, a 10' one will still work) to the corner and lean it against the back panel.  Use the connecting pins to hook them together.

I know these steps are a bit redundant, but I wanted to give you plenty of shots of the shade shack from different angles!

Steps 4 & 5 - Lift two 12' panels on top of the shade shack.  (This is really a two-man job, as someone pointed out to me.  One man could do it easily enough.  If you happen to be one woman doing it alone, by this time you're probably tired enough to appreciate another helpful hint:  It helps to lift the panel part way up, using the connecting pins to hold it halfway up one side while you walk to the other side to lift that one.)

This is also where it saves several steps if you don't try to use a bent panel!  Trust me, it won't be stable and you'll just have to get it down and go get another one.  You may think you're saving yourself work by using what's already there, but you're not!

Step 6 - Use 24" rubber bungies to secure the shade shack to the fence posts.
Also use rubber bungies to secure the roof to the side panels.
Don't be afraid to play around with the bungies to find the way they will be most secure.  This is the same spot as in the photo above, but I realized the rubber part was likely to slip off the hook the way I had them above, so I switched them in the opposite direction to change the angle of traction.
Step 7 - Put a heavy duty tarp on top of the shack.  If you're like me and ran out of bungies and needed to run to the hardware store, be sure to tie the tarp at the corners or it won't be there when you get back.

Step 8 - Use a rubber bungie at each corner and in the middle of each side to be sure the tarp is securely held down.  Then use heavy duty nylon cord and tie down every remaining ring or grommet on the tarp.

And there you are, a corral panel shade shack in eight easy steps!

We won't talk about me hobbling in to the chiropractor's office two days later, but all's well that ends well.  And as you can see, the girls have given their new shade shack the Good Cattle-keeping Seal of Approval.  

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