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Mobile shelter ON SLOPES?

 
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Most of the goat and sheep shelter designs that I've seen are only suitable for flat, or very lightly sloped pastures, where a tractor can safely drive, or where the shelter isn't likely to be blown over and rolled down the hill.

Does anyone else here keep their sheep or goats in steep, hilly terrain AND practice rotational grazing?

That combination makes mobile shelter design pretty challenging. We move our herds every other day, or sometimes every day, depending upon pasture growth and stand height. Obviously we're using electric net and moving water buckets around with them. The pastures are a mix of shrubs and grasses, not a monocrop and definitely not smooth sod. Because of the steep terrain, we do not keep a tractor at all; even low wagons and garden carts fall over on our slopes. There are about 10 acres of steep hills that we manage this way and in the past 5 years we've seen a wonderful improvement in soil and root development, and fodder quality. It's worth continuing to practice rotational grazing with these slopes, and eventually we hope to establish tree hay pollards (mulberry) in planned trios, spaced evenly across the pastures, which will provide shade and some light rain protection. However, those are currently seedlings. We want a solution for herd shelters in the meantime.

At first we used a bunch of dog igloo houses (dogloos) to provide shelter that we could move easily. They had serious drawbacks, though. First, not cheap, even bought used on Craigslist. Second, only a pair of goats could fit in a single dogloo, and only a single sheep, so many of the weaker animals would get bullied out into the elements. This meant that we have had to move the herds into the barnyard anytime inclement weather occurred (and that's time consuming and wasteful, plus it requires that we be present to move them). Third, the dogloos become brittle after a few years in sunshine and winter freezes, and then they shatter. They also have a tendency to tumbleweed down the hill during any strong wind, right over the electric nets, and then we had to drag them back up the hill.

So now we have tarps that we tie onto quads of t-posts, but this is not a good solution. Either we're having to leave t-post clusters permanently set up all over the pastures (wasteful and creates poop piles and bare dirt spots because the herd clusters at the same location repeatedly), or we're constantly pounding and then pulling t-posts. Not our favourite activity and it slows down herd rotation, which should only need the half hour or so to set up nets and buckets, and transfer the herd into the new paddock, each day. Carrying out the t-post pounder and puller, taking down tarp, relocating posts and putting up the tarp, and bringing the tools back in just makes the process unpleasant. Also, the tarps are horribly unsustainable.

We have tried the cattle panel and tarp hoop houses as well as the hog panel version. These don't hold up well to being moved daily, and the tarps still fall apart in less than a season, and they are cumbersome to drag (no tractor). They have to be anchored down to withstand our winds, too. So that's clearly not better.

Let me add that our farm is in the mountains in Virginia, zone 7a. It gets well over 90°F, sunny and humid for weeks every summer, with occasional storms that can dump up to 7 inches of rain in a day. We also see temperatures as low as 15°F in winter, with frequent freezing nights in spring and fall when the herds are out grazing. Right now we move the herds back to the barn during extremes, and then move them back to the pastures again (sometimes just a couple hours later, after the storm has passed). It's a long walk for newborn kids and lambs, and stressful on everyone, plus extra labor for us. So doing without pasture shelters isn't a good option here. We have heritage breeds that do require shelter.

Sooo... does anyone have a better solution? It needs to be light enough to move daily without a tractor, durable enough to survive sheep and goats rubbing on it, and low profile enough to stay in place on windy, hilly terrain.
 
Sadb O'Conner
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Adding a photo of the herd on pasture just to give a reference for the slopes.
20210426_135930-2.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20210426_135930-2.jpg]
 
pollinator
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How many head? How far do you move it on average?

That does look tough.  I would get heavy duty square tarp(s) and set them up as plow points-you only need one post or tree and it doesn't need to be driven.
 
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in my area the folks doing rotational grazing barn their flocks at night and lead them out to their paddocks every morning. i’d love to hear about it if you came up with something! my pasture slopes are just a little steeper.
 
Sadb O'Conner
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R Scott wrote:How many head? How far do you move it on average?



On average, about 26 adults. Spring and summer include lambs and kids, typically doubling the number, but of course much smaller and more willing to cuddle/share space. The adults are medium-sized.  Distance that we move them from paddock to paddock is, ideally, zero; we set up the new net to run alongside the prior net and leapfrog around the hills that way. Distance to the barn from the net varies from about 50 feet to almost a mile walk, so it can be pretty significantly stressful for them to have to return to the barn at short notice.

In terms of how far the shelter would need to move: roughly 80 feet each time.

Another factor with the goats is their playfulness; if any edge of the tarp is lower than 3' off the ground, they will jump up and rip it. So a conventional plow point configuration would just doom the tarp within a couple days. I'm not sure how tall a post we would need to do a single attachment point with the tarp suspended via strings and stakes, such that the back edges are more than 3 feet in the air... Thoughts?
 
Sadb O'Conner
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greg mosser wrote:in my area the folks doing rotational grazing barn their flocks at night and lead them out to their paddocks every morning.



I think if we had a more central location for the barn, and bedding were cheap in this area, we would do that (after all, the barn muckings make excellent compost, so they'd be gathering fertility for us to a central collection point). But the pasture is a bowl valley, with a bog at the bottom where a central barn could otherwise go. That would also be concentrating fertility at the lowest point, and in a waterway that feeds the Chesapeake, which we want to protect. Right now we've got really clear water running out of the bog; we'd like to keep it so! So no central barn location for us.

greg mosser wrote:my pasture slopes are just a little steeper.



Wow! Our slopes get steep enough that we slip and fall when moving nets; any steeper would be almost a cliff. Do you have livestock on your pasture? If so, what kind? I don't think we could put our sheep on such slopes; we already have issues with them sometimes lying down with legs pointed uphill, and then being unable to roll up to their feet and needing rescue. Silly fat floofs. The goats never have that problem.

greg mosser wrote:i’d love to hear about it if you came up with something!



I'll definitely share, with photos!
 
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How about a geodesic dome? How big do you want the structure to be? I can easily move my PVC domes around. They can be staked down and covered easily enough. I posted about my domes last November.

https://permies.com/t/151167/built-affordable-geodesic-greenhouse

I'd really like to see you try one of these and I'd be happy to help you along the way. Cheers!  
 
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I'm not a sheep farmer (yet).  I don't know if this would work, but it may trigger some ideas for prototyping

Concept only, not a proven technique:
Suspend a large triangular canvas or tarp among three tripods made of bamboo or other wooden spar material.  Each tripod has a short leg.  The shorter leg of each tripod will go uphill, or in such a way as to provide good tension for the tarp or tent canvas.  

Design criteria:
The size of the tarp is dependent on the number of animals being shaded.  
The tripods must be tall enough to prevent goats from hoping on top of the tarp.  
The ends of the triangular tarp will each have a line with a small carabiner to toss over the tripods, and they will then be hooked to a bucket to add good tension to the tarp.  
If the weighted bucket does not provide adequate tension to prevent a tripod from falling over (it probably wouldn't), then the carabiners may also fix tension to the ground by attaching to a screw such as the following for dog tethers.

If the distance between tripods roughly corresponds to the expected distance leap-frogged every day: in this case, 80 feet, then only one tripod would have to be moved (along with the ground screw anchor) depending on land shape.  Otherwise, three tripods and a tarp with line would need to be moved each day.
Sheep-Shelter.png
Tarp suspended by uneven-legged tripods and anchored to the ground. Leap frog along pasture.
Tarp suspended by uneven-legged tripods and anchored to the ground. Leap frog along pasture.
 
Andrew Cegielski
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George, did you just create that drawing or did you find it somewhere? I really like it.
 
George Yacus
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Andrew wrote:George, did you just create that drawing or did you find it somewhere? I really like it.



Original concept + drawing.  If it works, I hereby dub it, the Leap-Sheep-Steep-Shelters.

Created it myself using Inkscape, which is free and open source vector graphics software.



It just occurred to me that adding one additional tripod (total of four) plus an extra canvas or tarp might allow for doubling the shelter space.  
Four tripods could also be used with a rectangular tarp instead.  During windy conditions, the windward corner of the tarp could be lowered to provide shelter, if appropriately anchored and goats are not a problem.

If the system does work, there might be further function stacking possibilities to explore. For instance, if buckets are being used to carry feed, they could be suspended from the tripods so they don't get knocked over.  If the tarp is modified to include a grommet hole at the low point, perhaps it could also capture drinking water into a small stock tank.

If anyone tries it, do let me know!
 
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@George Yacus - I was thinking along the lines of a shelter with a mixture of short and long legs. If your tripod system had at least one leg each that is like a camera tripod with an adjustable height system,  that might help compensate for the slope.

For instance, if buckets are being used to carry feed, they could be suspended from the tripods so they don't get knocked over.

The downside of that is that if the animals drink the water/eat the feed, they buckets will get lighter and no longer do the job of weighing down the corner of the tarp! If the property grows rocks as well as grass and trees, I'd put rocks in the buckets.

@ Sadb O'Conner -  Have you seen pictures of the small round-wood earth-bermed shelters that Sepp Holzer makes by digging right into the hill-sides of his farm (Mountain-sides is more accurate in his case)? Would a few of those spread around the land so you don't have to go as far if there's a bad storm, and something portable for shade have potential? That won't solve the whole problem, but might be some help.
 
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At first thought I would be thinking that you have too many sheep. That’s a second thought as well. The next thought is, what breed are you raising? I have Gulf Coast Native sheep. They came with the Spanish and have survived 450 years. They have a resistance to foot rot and internal parasites. I got my start of one ram and seven ewes late last summer. We had lambs starting March 1. There is only shade tarp and a couple of tractor supply dog houses that they won’t use. In short, they don’t get shelter. PS I’m in Northern Arkansas . Watch Greg Judy’s sheep videos about shelter
 
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Am I the only one that doesn't have a shelter for my American Blackbelly herd? Predators have never bothered my herd due to Cosmo, the guardian llama.
I bring them into a stable if its pouring rain out. Do all of you have structures available to your sheep (esp Am Blackbelly) every night? Do they use it? What type of sheep do you have?
 
Sadb O'Conner
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George Yacus wrote:...large triangular canvas or tarp among three tripods made of bamboo or other wooden spar material.



WOW firstly, I love your artistic talent in instantly producing such a great illustration of the design! Thank you!

I think we're going to try this design, although I worry that the wind will end up our enemy here. It's still worth a shot, and tarps are cheap enough that even if it does end up ripped by wind, we're not out much on the experiment. Your suggestion of 4 tripods to allow leapfrogging some of the time is particularly brilliant. We'll use dog tie-downs (clay soil here, they've worked fairly well for us in the past; buckets will be too subject to swinging in the wind and allowing the tripod to collapse sideways when the tarp acts as a sail).

Thanks again for your great suggestion! I will get some photos when we get this assembled (probably a month or so from now).
 
Sadb O'Conner
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Dealy Blackshear wrote:At first thought I would be thinking that you have too many sheep. That’s a second thought as well.



Lol. We barely have enough sheep! Perhaps you're underestimating pasture growth in this climate. Our small herd can barely keep up with the overgrowth here throughout the growing season, and that's even with daily movement of the rotational paddock. If we had fewer, we'd need some kind of mechanical equipment to brushhog the pastures, because there's no way the herd could eat enough of it to keep briars and trees from taking over.

For reference, we get an average of 50 inches of rainfall annually, well spread out, and barely 3 months of winter (plenty of days in January and February are well above 40°F, so grasses do keep growing). The local extension office recommends 6 to 10 breeding ewes per acre, and that's with conventional pasture management, not intensive rotation. With 10 acres here dedicated to just the sheep and goats (and another 16 acres of pig-grazed pasture, mature hardwood forest and yards around the house and barn, all of which can supplement the herd if we needed more grazing, though we don't), we have far fewer sheep and goats than recommended for this lush of a growing zone.

Dealy Blackshear wrote: The next thought is, what breed are you raising?



Finnsheep; we've had our registered purebred flock for 7 years now. They absolutely need shade in our hot summer climate; putting them out on sunny pasture without shelter is not only cruel, but potentially fatal. It would also destroy their wool quality. They start panting from heat stress when it's only 75°F, and we frequently reach 100°F in summer.

The goats are mini-Oberhasli and pure Oberhasli, which need shade in summer and rain shelter year-round. Getting wet and not having a place to get dry can stress them to the point of extreme vulnerability to respiratory infections, as well as parasites. The purebreds especially need access to shelter; the hybrid minis are more resilient.
 
Sadb O'Conner
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Elizabeth Medgyesy wrote:Do all of you have structures available to your sheep (esp Am Blackbelly) every night? Do they use it? What type of sheep do you have?



Most farms in my area have permanent run-in sheds (three-sided open shelters facing south) in their pastures, for any livestock but cattle. But they also barely ever practice rotational grazing in this region, except for cattle, and if they do, it's only rotation through very large pasture enclosures, with a very low stocking rate. It's easy enough to have a handful of small sheds spaced out through the big permanent pastures. Of course, then they have terrible weed problems and erosion and manure buildup at those sheds. A lot of producers just won't bother with sheep and goats because they don't want to deal with providing shelter. Horse farms here have to put a lot of maintenance into the run-in shed areas (mucking and herbicides) or they face hoof rot and growth of poisonous plants like perilla and horse nettle.

Yes, we provide shelter to our sheep and goats, either by returning to the barn or setting up tarps on t-posts. The sheep definitely use them, especially for shade in summer sunshine, and shelter from sleet or cold rain in winter. We have Finns.
 
Sadb O'Conner
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Jay Angler wrote: If your tripod system had at least one leg each that is like a camera tripod with an adjustable height system, that might help compensate for the slope.



Great idea! Also, no, not many rocks, except the really large boulders jutting up a few places. The increasing depth of soil here means we're seeing less erosion and very few rocks of manageable size turn up in convenient locations. It's actually a bit sad for us; we had hoped to make stone walls in some locations, but finding rocks for it is a challenge.

Jay Angler wrote: Have you seen pictures of the small round-wood earth-bermed shelters that Sepp Holzer makes by digging right into the hill-sides of his farm (Mountain-sides is more accurate in his case)? Would a few of those spread around the land so you don't have to go as far if there's a bad storm, and something portable for shade have potential?



Yes and I drool over them! That's on our "someday" list, at least one 'cave' per slope. However, that's something we'd need heavy equipment for, or a whole lot of friends with shovels. It'll be a few years before our project list can include making earth-shelters. They're going to be exclusively for storm use, to avoid the problems of run-in sheds around here, but I think they'll save us a lot of herd- moving distance when, say, a hurricane hits the area.
 
Andrew Cegielski
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Sadb, what are your thoughts on using a geodesic dome?
 
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Andrew Cegielski wrote:How about a geodesic dome? How big do you want the structure to be? I can easily move my PVC domes around. They can be staked down and covered easily enough. I posted about my domes last November.

https://permies.com/t/151167/built-affordable-geodesic-greenhouse

I'd really like to see you try one of these and I'd be happy to help you along the way. Cheers!  



How about a dome from EMT steel conduit. They are sturdy. The dome shape sheds wind. I have covered mine with used billboard  vinyl tarps which are UV resistant. desertdomes.com  and domerama.com. what's the square footage you need? How many humans do you have to move them?
 
eco-innovator & pollinator
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I use a calf hutch.  I added a door to keep my 4 goats in at night and has protected them from mountain lions over the last few years.  I can get inside and lift with my shoulders and move around - awkward, but it works.  I only move mine a few feet each day to give them free spot to sleep and spread their poop out evenly.  (that doesn't work great since it turns out S#!T really does roll downhill!). I have to tie it to a fencepost to keep the goats from ramming it down the hillside.  26 sheep would need 4-5 of these and moving 80' each day would not be practical, but may work for someone with a smaller flock/herd.  For you, maybe a more a series of permanent structure that could access 4+ pastures at a time?  If I didn't want to bring them back to a central location, I think I would look into something like that.
calf-hutch-w-goats.jpg
calf hutch with goats
calf hutch with goats
calf-hutch-w-door.jpg
calf hutch with door
calf hutch with door
calf-hutch.jpg
calf hutch
calf hutch
 
Jay Angler
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Alan McGill wrote:How about a dome from EMT steel conduit. They are sturdy. The dome shape sheds wind. I have covered mine with used billboard  vinyl tarps which are UV resistant. desertdomes.com  and domerama.com. what's the square footage you need? How many humans do you have to move them?

Having assessed and moved many "portable structures" I suspect that a dome would struggle with both the slope and the awkwardness of moving something "round" unless you can design it to quickly and easily break it down into sections.

Regarding the "tripods and tarps" idea, I wondered if it would be worth trying a central tripod with 3 surrounding tripods so that if you have an unexpected rainstorm, you don't end up with a tarp full of water? Alternatively, I have portable chicken shelters that have "flaps" that go up or down over some fencing for ventilation depending on the weather. To prevent them from being damaged by collecting rainwater, I sewed several 1 inch button holes in the high risk areas. For the size the OP is considering, installing grommets might be a more realistic approach. It might be possible to set things up with enough slope that this is never an issue, but gravity and water seem to interact negatively no matter how hard I try to direct them!
 
Sadb O'Conner
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Andrew Cegielski wrote:How about a geodesic dome?



Unfortunately, domes are pretty unstable on uneven, steep hillsides. We get gusts of wind from 50 to 60 mph (that's not during hurricanes, just regular wind storms), and even very low to the ground, squat and decently heavy dogloos end up flying up in the air, then tumbling down the slope into the bog below.

There's also the amount of materials required to make a sturdy geo-dome big enough for the whole herd, or to make multiple domes. These need to be movable every day or two, by just one person. They also need to be rugged enough that 70 to 200 pound animals can scratch and rub on the structure all the time without making it fall apart (plastic connectors definitely cannot withstand it).

Andrew Cegielski wrote:How big do you want the structure to be?



Currently our whole herd of adults can squeeze together into one barn bay that is 10' x 20' but it's tight. When there are babies, a lot of them end up sleeping on top of the adult sheep to avoid being squished. (Side note, the goat kids do nest in the sheep wool like the ewes are their moms; it's very cute.) In summer heat, that's just too crowded; the lower status members of the herd would get bullied in such tight quarters, and we have to open other stalls for them to spread out. So we're looking at more than 200 sq ft area, at least 250 sq ft minimum, which would mean a dome with a diameter well over 17 feet and more than 8 feet tall.

We can do multiple shelters, especially with modular connection points, but domes don't tend to be modular; you can't leave one quarter dome in one spot and move two other quarters to a different paddock, for example. They also waste a lot of space in creating height that doesn't serve any purpose for the livestock below. Structurally, they're strongest when they're a true half-sphere, and they lose a lot of their selling points if you 'squash' them to have a semi-flat roof to use less material (and be lower profile in wind). Making several smaller domes instead of one large dome increases the total materials needed, without adding square footage to justify the extra materials.

I think a dome is a great design for a large, permanent barn structure. When it's mounted securely to the ground and has full walls reaching the ground, it becomes one of the best shapes for wind resilience. Airflow inside is excellent and you can build storage into that upper space, so it's not wasted. But I don't think it's the best thing for mobile, tarp-roofed livestock shelters on a slope.

Thank you, though!
 
Sadb O'Conner
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Jay Angler wrote: I sewed several 1 inch button holes in the high risk areas. For the size the OP is considering, installing grommets might be a more realistic approach. It might be possible to set things up with enough slope that this is never an issue, but gravity and water seem to interact negatively no matter how hard I try to direct them!



I love the grommet idea for drainage. We will definitely have the tarps set up sloped (it would be hard not to) and they'll probably be triangular, which tends to shed water better, but as you say, gravity and water don't seem to respect direction, nor care for tarps very much. I think we may also put ropes up under the center of the triangle, from tripod to tripod, to support the tarp better in the middle.
 
Sadb O'Conner
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Patrick Freeburger wrote:...maybe a series of permanent structure that could access 4+ pastures at a time?  If I didn't want to bring them back to a central location, I think I would look into something like that.



That actually was our initial plan, back before we had electric nets. We put up 7 strand wire fences to divide permanent pastures and planned to build shelters from which the fences radiated outward: 6 or 7 paddocks radiating from one shelter.

The problem with that, before the shed even existed, was that weeds grew like mad on the electric fence lines. The goats, sheep and pigs wouldn't eat the weeds too close to the zapping wires, so we had to spend huge amounts of time and energy weed-wacking under the fence wires (and repairing the inevitable broken lines). Additionally, the permanent locations for water troughs became barren of sod and dusty in dry weather, slick manure mud in wet weather. The areas farthest from the water trough were weedy and the areas closest were overgrazed. Putting up a permanent shelter would only exacerbate the problem.

We only had those permanent paddock division lines up for a few years, and yet you can still see the ridge of dirt and line of weeds where they were. We're gradually working to erase those by moving the nets across those locations. The nets also keep the goats contained better.

While we could put up permanent shelters, and run mobile electric net paddocks out from them in pie slices, the shelters themselves will still be sacrificing sod, with mud and weeds to deal with, and requiring maintenance. We'd also need to build a lot of them, to keep paddock sizes reasonable to prevent uneven grazing levels based on distance from shelter. I think it's more sustainable to have just one or two mobile shelters to maintain instead. & we don't lose any fodder-growing space to the mobile shelters, nor cause erosion, and the herd stays healthier by not sleeping in the mud or collecting parasites at a central location (scabies mites are endemic in local deer populations, for example).

Beautiful goats! They look big enough to hitch up if you wanted to harness them for moving the hutch ;-)
 
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I love the tripod idea and am now thinking about doing that instead of buying wheels for my heavy sheep shade shelter I built last summer
Also, when slaughter time comes, three an additional pole between two tripods and you can hang your carcass...
I've been thinking I need to learn some lashing anyhoe
 
Jay Angler
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Devon Olsen wrote:I've been thinking I need to learn some lashing anyhoe

It's amazing how easy it is if you actually follow some straight forward instructions!

Pardon the advert at the front, but this guy is really clear!
 
Devon Olsen
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Thanks! Looks very simple
I'm thinking if I get time I might even lash a tripod up today!
 
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A month ago I made a skidable chicken coop with with 2 inch galvanized pipe fashoned in a 10 by 20 foot rectangle and cattle panels fastened to it with hose clamps. The pipe is round enough that I have been able to skid the structure on the short side or long side.  I used 1 and a half inch pipe to instead of a union to couple the pipe together in one spot. The pipe was a little pricy for me and the cattle panels are a little more this year too, but the structure is solid enough, heavy and low slung enough for here. I skid it with a tractor, but wander if a 12 volt battery could power a winch for it using ground anchors, rocks or trees to tug it around.
It would be a hassle to tote the battery around, maybe you have a 4 wheeler,  but a fairly small solar panel on top of the structure might keep the battery topped off for the small amount the winch would get used.
 
George Yacus
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Sadb O'Conner wrote:

Jay Angler wrote: Have you seen pictures of the small round-wood earth-bermed shelters that Sepp Holzer makes by digging right into the hill-sides of his farm (Mountain-sides is more accurate in his case)? Would a few of those spread around the land so you don't have to go as far if there's a bad storm, and something portable for shade have potential?



Yes and I drool over them! That's on our "someday" list, at least one 'cave' per slope. However, that's something we'd need heavy equipment for, or a whole lot of friends with shovels. It'll be a few years before our project list can include making earth-shelters. They're going to be exclusively for storm use, to avoid the problems of run-in sheds around here, but I think they'll save us a lot of herd- moving distance when, say, a hurricane hits the area.



When you find yourselves ready to build that Sepp-shelter a few years down the road, make a new post here or in the eastern USA regional forum on permies.  I'd be willing to volunteer to join your shovel-brigade.
 
Devon Olsen
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I am currently using the tripod/tarp idea, pics can be provided later if anyone can remind my forgetful butt... lol

few things i learned quickly:
you need cross bracing on all three sides, not just the one.... which makes moving them something that is done simply by picking the whole tripod up, rather than collapsing the tripod and moving it flat. But this is nessacary for stability.
in one leg of each of the tripods i had to drill a half inch hole so i can drive a rebar stake into the ground, otherwise the wind pulls the tripods over. ( when you move the tripod you simply lift it off the stake, the stake comes out easily if you use a small pipe wrench, turn the stake three times and on the fourth turn lift with the pipe wrench... comes right out.) My stakes are approximately 18inches and i drive them just deep enough that they are not a tripping hazard for the ewes or the lambs
That tarp is not going to last very long in our environment unfortunately but for now it is working. One thought I had, is rather than tying the tarp to the tripods, have it permanently attached to two poles on the long sides, then rest those poles on the tripods and utilize weights if needed, that way the tarp flaps less and has some rigid support.
I use 4 tripods and a square tarp.
Tripods do not have to be overly large, I cut my poles down from 11.5ft to 7ft and that seems a good size, 6ft may be sufficient and weigh slightly less.

I think I would still like to eventually mount 4 bicycle tires to my sheep shelter I built last year and just roll that along, skids or using two small tires on the back proved to be too damn heavy last year and these tripods are thus far an improvement.
 
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I've been pondering this myself as I'm considering adding sheep to our hilly kentucky farm. We won't have as many as you have but my thought was something akin to this Justin Rhodes shelter, but maybe a bit taller, and obviously a hair larger.  Then you make the legs either shorter or taller (depending on how you want to set it) and come up with a way to stake the legs so it won't roll downhill.  

 
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