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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Barn "WINDOWS". (LaCroix Alpacas)

Window openings [opened and closed] covered with chain link.

Window openings [opened and closed] covered with chain link.

When my barn was resided in 2010, I knew that I needed barn windows but was uncertain about my options. Ready-made windows with shatter-proof glass seemed to be the most logical choice but those windows also had limitations. Not only were they expensive windows, but all of the ready-made, barn windows that I located could only be opened half-way, thereby limiting air circulation. I was also concerned about the reliability of the window washer: me! I only have so much time and am not enamored with the task of washing barn windows. Before my barn was resided, there had been simple, old-fashioned windows, and so I knew how awful dirty windows look, how they restrict the light coming into the barn when they are dirty, and, most importantly, how much work is involved in washing dirty barn windows.

I finally decided that my best option was a “window opening”: i.e., window-sized openings cut into the siding of the barn. If you're interested in this option, here is basically what you will need.
1. 9.5 gauge chain link.
2. 3/4" HG staples [u-shaped exterior nails].
3. 2x4's.
4. Hinges and screws.
5. Circular saw.
6. Tape measure.
7. Barn nails.
8. Cleat hooks and screws.
9. Rope.
10. Pulleys.
11. Eye screws.
12. Window latches.

2x4's are nailed inside the barn along the top and bottom dimensions of the desired opening. Hinges are attached to the top 2x4. The barn siding boards are cut along the dimensions of each opening; usually 3 boards wide. To open a "window", pull the hinged barn siding boards into the barn, and out of sight, using a rope-pulley-cleat hook combination. When closed, the barn boards are lowered and latched in their original positions along the exterior of the barn. The sizes of the openings vary a little, depending upon the varying widths of the barn siding boards.

The advantages of window openings:
The cost is minimal.
You decide exactly how large the openings will be.
The amount of air coming through the openings is maximized during warm weather.
Because the grey color of chain link fades into the grey color of the exterior barn siding, the
barn looks neat in the winter when the window openings are closed. [Note: These photos were
taken when the siding was relatively new and had yet not faded to grey.]
And, most importantly, there are no windows to clean!

However, the window openings do have a limitations.

1. During the winter months, I must close some or all of the openings, depending upon the weather. Since alpacas need to be able to see outdoors, I limit the number of windows and doors that are closed as much as possible. Except during most severe conditions, I am usually able to keep a door partially open, as well as at least two windows so that the alpacas are able to walk outdoors and/or see outdoors.

2. There is no barrier in the opening, such as glass, to stop a predator from jumping into the barn. Although, my barn is surrounded by protective fencing and security inside of the barn is a minor concern, I decided that I still ought to have a barrier in the openings for peace of mind and anything unforeseen. My barrier solution is as unconventional as my window solution but it works and is reasonably attractive.

Borrowing from my experience with chain link fencing, I knew that heavy gauge [at least 9.5 gauge] chain link would not be damaged by alpacas and that it would remain in excellent condition for many, many years. And so appropriately-sized sections of chain link were nailed over the window openings with 3/4" HG staples [u-shaped exterior nails]. The resulting chain link barrier is very secure. [Note: The heavier gauge chain link is important. Alpacas are able to damage a lighter gauge.]

The advantages of chain link barriers:
Maximum ventilation for your alpacas.
Minimal cost.
Barn security.
The barriers will remain in excellent condition for many years.
At a distance, the chain link begins to “disappear”.

I hope that this information helps someone in the alpaca world!
Window opening covered with chain link and secured with coaxial wood staples.

Window opening covered with chain link and secured with coaxial wood staples.

View of barn window opening from the barn interior.

View of barn window opening from the barn interior.