Sunday, January 4, 2009

Portable Sheep Shed Collapses

Based on the title, you might ask why should it matter that the portable sheep shed has collapsed since it is meant for summer grazing, it is winter, and I have been working on a permanent winter pen? Good question and the answer has to do with the fact that the permanent pen was nowhere near completion when the portable shed collapsed. In fact, the sheep were using the portable shed as their shelter during the winter weather we've been having... and as the locals know, it has been winter weather alright. The worst of it is not temperatures hovering at 0 to 10 degrees F (i.e. -18 to -12 degrees C), but the wind. For some bizarre reasons -- mmmm... global warming? Oh no that's a scare tactic, there's no such thing! (i.e. yes that's a joke) -- the wind has been strong and from the south this year, which means it has been whipping us and especially the top of the pasture where the sheep are. You see, we have a hill in the north so luckily we're sheltered from north winds (i.e. north winds are generally much colder than south winds), but in the past we have not really had much winds coming from the south, meaning we have not had to really deal with windy conditions. Well, this year it all changed. It has made the air feel even colder thanks to the now noticeable wind-chill factor, not to mention the fact that the winds have created havoc on my portable sheep shed just when the sheep need it the most -- they usually use shelters in high wind conditions, driving rain/snow, or extreme cold... yes essentially what we've had.

(at left: the portable sheep shed still standing)

I was able to resolve the wind beating of the portable shed, after first chasing the shed down the slope of the entire pasture and then after being thrown around the pasture while stubbornly holding onto the shed as it acted like a sail driven by the wind all over the pasture, into the fence, and over the fence -- it was like watching sail-boat or wind-surf in the San Fransisco Bay under the Golden Gate bridge (i.e. if you have been there, you know what I mean). In any case, the resolution was to take 6 large pieces of bedrock -- we have a lot of rocks and bedrock outcrops on the property -- and set them onto the wood/PVC frame of the portable shed: it worked... that was until the snow started to fall and pile high! One morning I go out to feed my woolen girls just to find the tarp cover of the portable shed detached at one of the grommets; I pull at it to reattach the string and snap... the grommet breaks! OK, I just need to pull gently at the other end, shed some snow, and I can make a new hole. I do that and snap... the PVC angle holding 1 of the 2 peaks of the frame shatters into several pieces of plastic thanks to what I can surmise to be: cold temperatures. OK, I can still fix this, since the PVC angle is at the top and away from the reach of the sheep, I can just use rope to attach the wood and PVC pipes making up the frame. So I readjusts the wood/PVC pipes and... snap another PVC angle shatters at 1 of the bottom corners, 1 of the wood breaks in half, and the entire tarp tent of the portable shed collapses under the weight of the snow. NOW I'm screwed! I would need a miracle to fix all this mess.

Stay tuned for how we managed to provide shelter for the sheep in less than 24-hrs, outside in 10 degree F weather...

(at right: a preview of the workshop for the winter pen)