After stacking hay from last summer’s haying season it didn’t take long to realize how beneficial it would be to construct a shed to protect it. Throughout the fall and winter months we covered the haystack with tarps trying to protect it from the pounding rain and snow storms that were nearly always accompanied by extreme high winds. As hard as I tried it was a great struggle to keep the hay covered in winds that sometimes exceeded 40 to 60 miles an hour. It was especially difficult when I had to get into it at feeding time. This country is so open and exposed to the elements that there’s little to slow down the microburst winds that periodically roar through. Not only did we need tall pole structure, but it had to be built strong. Hay sheds are tall, open walled structures built on stilt-like poles designed specifically for air flow to avoid mildew.
Visiting with neighbors that had experience with such structures (some of which who had lived in the area for generations), I learned what to do and what not to do. One neighbor told me he lost three different shed roofs to high winds before learning the secret of success. Taking note of his counsel and my own past experience I set out to build my stilted structure as strong as possible with materials that were affordable for us. Here are a few principles I think might be worth keeping in mind if you’re considering such a venture:
- First, I anchored my treated poles four feet deep – partially into the bedrock. I wrapped each pole in synthetic roofing paper and poured concrete into the holes they were set in. (I put 12″cardboard concrete forms around the base of each pole so that I could pour concrete two feet above ground level to provide extra protection.)
- Second, I used 6 ” ring-shank nails with washers to anchor the doubled 2×6 top plates to the upright poles and nailed extra hurricane clips on both sides of all the trusses.
- When I screwed the sheets of steel roofing down onto the 2×4 stringers I used extra long screws. I also increased the amount of screws I used, especially on the outer edges that would be most vulnerable to wind gusts.
- I nailed several sheets of OSB to serve as shear panels horizontally on the inside of the main structure and added 45 degree bracing at every upright pole or post.
- Adding side lean-to type wings onto the main pole structure not only gave it extra stability (much like outriggers on a canoe), but extra covered space to store equipment.
- I left the ends of the shed open so that high prevailing winds could pass through without undue resistance.
So far the new structure has held up to over 60 MPH winds and we pray will stay standing and serve us here at Timber Butte for years to come.