• The old goat shed

    by  • February 9, 2012 • Garden art, Projects

    In 2000, we found and bought 7 acres on the side of a hill in a small town south of Yosemite. In late 2005, we moved into our modest, newly built house, something we never  dreamed we’d do.

    2000-10 First look at the goat shed

    2000-10 First look at the goat shed

    Walking the place for the first time, when we wondered if the old cedar shack came with the property, the real estate agent said, “Oh, yes!” I was astonished, then later overjoyed to learn that this old shed was ours. Why, we had an outbuilding!   And considering that we had no ‘main’ building yet, it was the only sign of civilization here at all. Just think of the possibilities!

    Goat shed in Autumn

    Goat shed in Autumn

    For one who sometimes lives in a world of imaginative impracticality, this is the stuff dreams are made of. Actually made from weathered cedar construction, we guessed it was 40 or 50 years old.  No foundation, four by four posts simply sunk into the corners, it, nonetheless caught my imagination.

    A peek inside the 20’ x 20’ shed revealed two rooms, one with a low manger, bees, scorpions, which I was a bit shocked to see (I had thought they lived only in hotter climates), and a muddy dirt floor.  The corrugated metal and plastic paneled roof hovered three inches above the top of the walls, leaving a gap open to the outside.

    Wooden goat marks the shed exterior wall

    Wooden goat marks the shed exterior wall

    So many projects and plans came before any attention could be paid to the old shed. Late the next summer, I raked  it out and attached the small wooden goat I had found on eBay.  Can you see how sentimental I was already getting?  That Autumn, I measured and mapped out a diagram of the goat shed showing dimensions.

    2010-11 The goat shed covered in November snow

    2010-11 The goat shed covered in November snow

    Over the five years before we moved here, I filled a notebook with drawings, plans and clippings of what could be done to make this a big girl ‘playhouse.’ A room of my own.  Five years of monthly five-hour drives gave me plenty of time to think. And my two gardening friends in the neighborhood there only encouraged me.

    2006 March snow covers the goat shed

    2006 March snow covers the goat shed. I was high up on the driveway to take this and our small boat is covered by snow at the bottom of the photo.

    Many times we have walked up the hill from the house place and seen a deer bolt from inside the shed.  The door is too narrow for a cow so we thought it must have been built for sheep or goats. Neighbors said goats, so that’s how it got its name.

    Goat shed view

    Goat shed view over the valley

    The shed is on the hill overlooking the best view on the place.  It’s about 30 yards away from the house to the south, with our big parking and utility area between. With no trees to block the view, the land drops away steeply to the east and you can see a 180 degree vista of the mountain range. First, there’s somewhat of a road, then a steep open meadow, then the woods continuing down to the creek 100 yards below our fence.

    Oracle oak towers 30 feet over

    Oracle oak towers 30 feet over

    We reinforced the floor the last summer before we moved into the house; built an interior platform in one section so we could use the shed to store things. I dismantled the manger to reuse the old wood, some of which is used in our hall bath. I use the three square wooden troughs now as bird feeders. An odd triangular wood piece serves as a bench on one side, and old ladders, tools and my Grandma’s chair are displayed on one outside wall. Inside we have some junk and a few old motorcycle parts.

    Collection of old ladders

    Collection of old ladders lean against the old cedar planks

    Feed troughs repurposed

    Feed troughs re-purposed

    My stash of old doors, windows and shutters

    My stash of old doors, windows and shutters behind the goat shed

    2010-12 December stormy skies over shadow the shed

    2010-12 December stormy skies over shadow the shed

    After some time, many sighs, scoffs and protests from Tractor Man and his builder friends, I’ve had to come down to earth and realize that I can’t do what I thought could be done. Now I know,…it is just too decrepit to move anything of value inside.  Without major reinforcements, it would not stand, and rebuilding would ultimately destroy the aged, charming look of it.  I had dreamed of a comfy chair, a cozy daybed nap, shelves and pictures and treasures there.  I had planned a tiny woodstove and a small kitchen to make tea there.

    Old tools and Grandma's chair

    Old tools and Grandma's chair

    I realize the limitations, weakened beams and leaky, flimsy really, roof….but still appreciate very much the scenic value of this old barn. At the very least, it makes a nice garden folly of sorts. The cedar glows a youthful reddish gold in some places and has weathered silvery grey in most places.

    2010-12 December sky lights up the shed

    2010-12 December sky lights up the shed

    In the snow it is magical and deep and in the Spring the grass around it looks mowed and neat.  The Oracle oak towers over and shelters it and in Autumn we can hear the bangs and pops as acorns fall on the roof.

    About

    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.