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Winterizing an old barn

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by SandraMort, Jul 28, 2008.

  1. SandraMort

    SandraMort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 7, 2008
    ny
    I haven't moved in yet... 19 days and counting... but the barn looks like it will be very drafty in the winter. I can put boards up over the wooden wall, but I don't really know how to draft and predator-proof the stone wall's holes.

    The layout of the barn is that there are three large stalls on the right side and the left is all open. If we are able to herd the chickens into one or more of the stalls, I don't need to worry about the stone wall quite as much, I don't think?

    I was considering putting a freestanding coop in one of the stalls to protect them during the winter, but I don't know how practical it will be or how expensive it would be to make.

    Any suggestions for upstate NY would be appreciated! This is Saugerties, NY, if that helps figure out what the weather will be like.
     
  2. dixygirl

    dixygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you mean there are actual holes in the walls, if so i would start by getting some mortar and patching them up. Actual holes would also let predators in. Just mix it up and spread thick with a spatula like a child playing in mud. Child's play.

    After that you might try getting bales of straw and stack them up against the inside walls for insulation. Personally I would then get some of those plug in roach and rat repellents so that rats don't take up home in them.

    Otherwise there are companies you could call who could spray on Polyurethane foam insulation (insulating foam) to the walls and ceilings. It could look really cool. Actually you can find the kits online to do it yourself. It is two solutions that you mix together and spray. Not the ready mixed small cans but bulk and unmixed. It could be cheaper than a contractor. It then swells and expands on the walls into a solid thick coating. Would look like a cave's walls when hard. The insulation contractors scrape it smooth and straight when finished though.

    Pretty cool [​IMG]

    http://www.fomofoam.com/FOMO-Metal-BLDG-WeB-LOW.wmv (video)

    http://www.fomofoam.com/
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2008
  3. SandraMort

    SandraMort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 7, 2008
    ny
    Quote:Is it expensive or difficult? I'm renting this place. Of course, I need to clear it with the owner.

    After that you might try getting bales of straw and stack them up against the inside walls for insulation.

    Oh, that's an idea. How high do they need to go?

    Personally I would then get some of those plug in roach and rat repellents so that rats don't take up home in them.

    No idea what those are.

    Otherwise there are companies you could call who could spray on Polyurethane foam insulation (insulating foam) to the walls and ceilings. It could look really cool. Actually you can find the kits online to do it yourself. It is two solutions that you mix together and spray. Not the ready mixed small cans but bulk and unmixed. It could be cheaper than a contractor. It then swells and expands on the walls into a solid thick coating. Would look like a cave's walls when hard. The insulation contractors scrape it smooth and straight when finished though.

    Oooh, that sounds not so pretty, but I can run it past her, too.

    Thanks!!!​
     
  4. dixygirl

    dixygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 14, 2008
    Do you mean there are actual holes in the walls, if so i would start by getting some mortar and patching them up. Actual holes would also let predators in. Just mix it up and spread thick with a spatula like a child playing in mud. Child's play.

    Is it expensive or difficult? I'm renting this place. Of course, I need to clear it with the owner.

    You can get a 50 pound bag of mortar from Lowes or Home Depot for $3- $5. Just add water to make it like a pancake batter and patch. You may need a few bags depending on how many holes you have






    After that you might try getting bales of straw and stack them up against the inside walls for insulation.

    Oh, that's an idea. How high do they need to go?


    That's up to you


    Personally I would then get some of those plug in roach and rat repellents so that rats don't take up home in them.

    No idea what those are.




    They have different brands. Here's one
    http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs...marketID=2&locStoreNum=6372&categoryID=500254


    Good luck
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2008
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    With all due respect to the ingenuity of the previous post [​IMG] I would very definitely NOT do spray-insulation under any circumstances whatsoever. First, you would have to cover it with plywood if you did it, b/c otherwise the chickens (as well as any future hooved stock that one might want to put in the stall) will eat it and get sick or dead. And if you put plywood up there you will be creating space for a giant mouse or rat condominium (they can tunnel through all other forms of foam insulation so I cannot see why professionally applied stuff should differ). Second, it will cr*p up your stone wall very badly and prevent future repairs being made without extreme difficulty (mortar etc won't bond properly to a surface that's had sprayfoam on it, and while you can chisel back old mortar with the stuff on it, whatcha gonna do about the stones that've gotten it?)

    Patching the holes with mortar seems like the sensible solution -- HOWEVER if this is an old stone foundation with actual cracks or holes in it, you'd be real real smart to get a professional to look at it, because it is very important to use the correct mortar or whatever other patching compound, for the other materials used in the wall.

    Strawbales stacked for insulation is good sometimes, but don't do it if the structure is not predator-proofed by other means. Also if you have strawbales stacked against stone walls you will have to be vigilant for signs of mold (damp walls + mold-prone straw...) which would be quite bad for your chickens and necessitate immediate removal of the strawbales and mega-ventilation of the barn.

    Can I suggest that the easiest, safest and smartest (although not lowest-work) solution would be to build a freestanding coop inside the barn as you've suggested? Leave several feet between its walls and the barn walls, so's not to be making a vermin ranch or predator hidey-hole. It doesn't have to be fancy, just stud walls with plywood on one side only would do it. Top should probably be solid (with very slight slope in case of drips) although if scrounged materials made it more feasible you could go with a strongly-supported 2x4 welded wire roof with insulation and a tarp over top of it.

    The coop-within-a-barn will also help buffer your chickens against one big problem of stone walls - they create a very damp atmosphere. You will still need lotsa ventilation in your coop-within-the-barn, and lotsa ventilation of the barn itself, but the chickens will not be as damp when surrounded by all that wood as compared to surrounded by lots of naked stone. And damp air is just askin' for diseases or frostbite.

    JMHO,

    Pat
     
  6. SandraMort

    SandraMort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 7, 2008
    ny
    Quote:It actually sounds like the *easiest* option. I'm thinking that's probably a clue as to the extent of the damage in the barn.

    If I build a solid sided and topped coop to trap body heat in the winter, then I let them out to roam the barn during the day? What about predators then? Or do I just not worry about it since they'd be free ranging the rest of the year anyway? I hate asking dumb questions, and it feels dumb, but I'm not getting it. If they're free ranging, why am I going to extreme measures at night?

    stud walls with plywood on one side only would do it.

    I know plywood. What are stud walls?​
     
  7. dixygirl

    dixygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There are only a few types of mortar. It has not changed much for centuries. If you get the best with reinforced fibers you are safe.

    The spray insulation is just one option for insulating that type of structure. Future repairs to stone wall would just be made from outside instead of inside.


    Sounds like you have little familiarity with any diy work so forget about everything i suggested.
    Just making a coop would be easiest since I now understand that you are renting and probably can't make changes to the structure. And if you have electricity in there, i would look into some of those plug in ultrasonic pest devices for the safety of your animals.

    PS You use greater measures of protection at night because that's when most predators come out and prowl looking for food.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2008
  8. SandraMort

    SandraMort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 7, 2008
    ny
    Quote:not to mention that dropping the resale value of the house would piss my landlady off.

    Strawbales stacked for insulation is good sometimes, but don't do it if the structure is not predator-proofed by other means. Also if you have strawbales stacked against stone walls you will have to be vigilant for signs of mold (damp walls + mold-prone straw...) which would be quite bad for your chickens and necessitate immediate removal of the strawbales and mega-ventilation of the barn.

    the stalls are on the side of the barn w/ wood walls, so I patch up those holes, line the walls (how high?) with one layer deep of (straw? hay?) and then build the coop flush against that? How big is a bale?​
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:What I was referring to is that you don't want your patch to be markedly stronger than the rest of the mortar or structure (although in this case since the structure is stone, that part is not an issue as long as the stone is in good shape). People often use portland cement to make this kind of repairs, and it totally screws up the wall.

    Quote:Because, as dixygirl says, that's when predators are most active and chickens are most, so to speak, 'sitting ducks' (being of course asleep). Big time.

    If I build a solid sided and topped coop to trap body heat in the winter, then I let them out to roam the barn during the day? What about predators then? Or do I just not worry about it since they'd be free ranging the rest of the year anyway?

    Well, a lot of it depends on how much you want your chickens to not get et by predators <shrug>. If it would be sort of an Oh Well, That Happens kind of thing to you, then sure; but if you would feel bad about it, or annoyed at having your egg supply dented or cut off, or anything like that, it would certainly make sense to do what you reasonably CAN against predators. I mean, just because we're all going to die someday doesn't mean there isn't value in looking both ways before we cross the street and avoiding eating things marked 'rat poison' and so forth [​IMG]

    Personally I would do my darnedest (budget permitting) to predator-proof some sort of run or sectioned-off part of the barn, so that I ahd a secure place for them to be loose when I did not want them free-ranging (either b/c of weather or b/c I was having predator problems or seemed likely to).

    Remember that various predators, particularly raccoons and weasels but also some others, PREFER to use old barns as their winter dwellings.

    It's a personal choice, though - you just have to decide what sits best with you.

    What are stud walls?

    You know, the kind of walls houses have, where you have a horizontal 2x4 at the top and bottom and then every 16" or 2' you have a vertical 2x4, to form the skeleton of the wall. In a house, the interior would get drywall screwed onto it and the exterior would get sheathing and siding, but all you would need to do would be to put plywood on one side (I'd do the interior), although if you felt you really needed insulation you'd fill the voids between studs w/ insulation and then plywood (etc) the other side of the wall too.

    the stalls are on the side of the barn w/ wood walls, so I patch up those holes, line the walls (how high?) with one layer deep of (straw? hay?) and then build the coop flush against that? How big is a bale?

    If one side of the barn has wood walls, personally I would unhesitatingly patch up *that* side to put the chickens in (coop, and/or dedicated 'run' type stall with coop in it). One difficulty with the exact way you suggest doing it is that you'd be creating a wall-strawbale-wall sandwich, aka "mouse farm". Better to leave a foot (or best of all, 2', so there is human access all the way 'round) between the straw-insulated coop and the exterior wall of the barn.

    A bale of straw varies depending on who's baled it but you might guesstimate it to be something on the order of 18" x 18" x 3-4'. It's worth scoping out your other alternatives for insulation -- it may be that you can get foamboard or batts, or even scrap styrofoam used for packing, for same or less than the straw would be. Although you would have to cover those thigns w/plywood or some such, which of course is not the case with straw. I'm not trying to talk you out of straw, just advocating not ignoring other possibilities [​IMG]

    Good luck and ahve fun,

    Pat​
     
  10. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    May 8, 2007
    Wisconsin
    If I was in your situation, I would build a free standing coop within the barn. As a renter, I'd make it one that I could take with me, when I moved. That may not matter to you.

    How many chickens are you wanting to put in there? Will there be any livestock living in the barn, in addition to the chickens?

    Quote:[​IMG] I'm not laughing at the OP or trying to be mean, but I really thought this was funny.

    Predators are much worse at night and if the birds are trapped in a barn, it's a lot harder for them to get away from a predator. It's not like they all get away when free ranging, but at least they have a chance. They aren't being cornered or as mentioned, being pulled off a roost when sound asleep.
     

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