NRV Sheep and Goat Club honors Jones for innovation
The New River Valley Sheep and Goat Club is honoring Lorrie Atwell Jones with its 2020 Innovation Award.
This is the second year the club has recognized a member who has found a way to improve farming through innovation.
Her winning entry is a hoop field house, the group said.
“The Hoop Field Barn is a portable hoop-type structure that gives shelter to animals in fields without permanent structures at an affordable price,” Jones explained in her entry.
Jones, a rural mail carrier, is working to restore the land that her grandfather farmed and that she inherited in the Gunton Park section of Wythe County, Va.
All members of the club are eligible to enter the things they have made to use in caring for their sheep and goats. These can be a clever way farmer has reused re-purposed, rebuilt or created something new to improve their operation.
Jones has created a hoop field barn to provide shelter in winter and shade in summer for her flock of heritage breed Jacob sheep.
For Jones, the benefit of these barns is year-round shelter for her animals until she can build more stable and lasting structures.
Jones, a small woman who farms alone, has chosen small animals that she can easily handle. Her Jacob sheep are one example. Her Dexter cattle are another.
At her Tilted Barn Farm, Jones drove over the hills she inherited and pointed to her hoop field barns as well as other structures she has used.
She said she’s found lower barns tend to hold the body heat of her sheep in winter and warm the enclosing tarp as well. This allows light snow to slide off.
She said only logging chains and a tractor are required to move the structures across the farm.
The cost of her hoop structures was $300 each.
This is a saving of at least $2,500 over the cost of a permanent structure, she estimated.
She uses eight 2-by-4s, two 2-by-4-by-10s, four 16-foot cattle panels, a 10-by-20 foot tarp and fasting hardware to make a 10-by-20-foot hoop field barn.
Jones added that the barns can be lengthened by 20 feet, the length of a tarp as many times as the farmer likes. Height can be adjusted as well.
She said it’s necessary to replace the tarp each year due to weather wear and added tarps work better than canvas.
If the barns are to be used in winter, she advised, they need support in the center to survive heavy winter snows. The covers should be removed in the winter if the barns are not used to avoid snow damage, she continued.
While temporary hay feeders can be attached to the center supports in the hoop barns, Jones prefers to allow excess hay to build up for deep bedding and heat.
She finds the barns can be used for shade in summer hayfields that are being grazed. They can also be used to store hay closer to where the sheep are across the farm.
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