We have become quite adept at temporary things, thanks to all our years in the military.  I have never lived in the same house longer than 5 years, 3 being average, and 2 being most common during my married years.  Re-use, recycle, and go cheap–it’s kind of our motto in life.

I have handmade curtains that have hung on walls, windows, and door frames.

We have recycled sheets to serve as doors and customized curtains.  Last year, S prided himself on building almost every wooden structure on the farm–rabbit cages, chicken coop, goat shed, etc. with only recycled or scrap lumber.  Our most brag-worthy contraption started out as a dog agility a-frame we built and used for Will back in the day when I had only 2 kiddos.

This isn’t mine, but similiar. Mine was a bit narrower, and painted blue and yellow instead. I just never bothered to take a pic of it. I borrowed this photo from here

After the next move, it was disassembled and re-assembled into a sandbox for the kids.

When we moved again, it was disassembled and reassembled yet again to become a toy storage box/hiding place for the back deck.

Finally, when we moved out here, it was re-assigned as a recycle-storage container.  It’s still going strong, but I think it will stay here in CO when we move.  It is pretty ugly by now!

In any case, we also learned how to build a popular type of temporary, but highly functional farm structure.  We have received many comments on it by visitors, so I figured I’d post about it, in the event any of you hadn’t seen one yet.  The structure can be as complex or as simple as you want to make it, but depending on your local laws, because it is temporary, you may not need any type of permit to build it.  The basic foundation consists of posts, wire cattle or hog panels, and a covering of some sort.

First, decide your need, and whether you need side coverage to go all the way to the ground or not.  In our case, we needed it to store hay, and only needed top and partial side coverage.  We have rain and snow, but not too much wind at ground level.  The largest bale we put in was going to be 8 feet across, so, with about a 2 foot overhang on each side, we needed the shelter to be 12 feet wide.

Second, you pound posts into the ground.  We chose to use standard t-posts to make it very temporary.  Ours literally has to last one winter.  You could use wooden posts for a more stable, solid structure.  We spaced the t-posts 12 feet across from each other, and then on each side, we lined them up with spacing the same height as the panels we were using (4 foot high panels = 4 foot spacing between posts).

Third, you have to stabilize the posts.  We used an additional t-post as a diagonal brace, wired at the top and bottom for support of the main t-post.

A diagonal brace post is wired to the vertical support post.

The base of the 2 posts are also wired and tightened to increase stability.

Fourth, install the panels.  This is easier with 2-3 people.  Stand on either end of the panel, and walk toward each other, causing the panel to bow upwards as you walk.  When you reach the posts, wire the panel to the post at the desired height.  Again, for more permanent structures, you could use something more solid than wire, but this is all we needed.  Repeat this process, panel by panel.  With the exception of the corner posts, each post will have 2 panels wired to it.  To stabilize our panels, we then tied them together across the bow for a little support.  Another way to increase stability is to slightly overlap the panels, which we did a couple times.

Panels bow at the top, and we tied them together to increase stability.

Fifth, add your cover.  Many people build green houses by using clear, light filtering plastic sheeting.  We purchased a recycled billboard tarp and another heavy-duty tarp, just to try them both out.  The standard tarp was definitely easier to install thanks to the built in grommets.  We just tied it to the panels on all 4 sides.

Tarp with grommets tied to the panels.

The billboard tarp has more flexibility, which allows more options.  If you are so inclinced, you could put grommets on one.  Again, since ours is temporary, we just used some of S’s hardware clamps and brackets to hold it down.   Then, after a wind storm blew our tarp off and up into a tree, we added tension straps over the top, about every 10 feet to help keep it down.  It seems to be working great now.

A few steps we DIDN’T do, but you could, would be to create an animal-shelter by installing plywood along the inside length of the base of each side, and going up the same height as the animal.  This prevents animals ripping through the tarp or messing with the posts. I have seen others who custom designed a wall for each end to make it fully enclosed.  Just be cautious that some type ventilation is allowed, lest you wind up with condensation dripping all over you, your hay, or your animals.  Only your imagination will limit you.  However, with our basic and simple design, we can tear the whole thing down in about 30-45 minutes, and it will cover sufficiently for our needs.  You can see in the next photo that the sun and dry air here fades the hay around the edges, but just 1/2″ inside, the hay is still dry and bright green.  We like the ventitilation this shelter design allows.

It isn’t really pretty, but it’s cheap and practical.  With the purchase of the used t-posts and billboard tarp, some scrap wire, and a new tarp and panels, I think we built the whole 10×24′ structure for around $200.

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