We moved to Tennessee from Arizona. It’s not that we didn’t like Arizona but there were some things in Tennessee Mikki in particular wanted to experience. She wanted to be surrounded by greenery, have a garden (for the first time ever!), experience rivers with actual water in them…and to possibly own her own horse. We had been traveling to east Tennessee for years to visit family and on our final trip as visitors, we looked at some property with Mikki’s parents who were looking to retire soon. We happened upon the property where we live now and loved it from the start. Almost 8.5 acres, mostly fenced for horses with two barns, including a mostly new barn with three finished horse stalls, room for hay storage, a tack room and a covered port for storing a horse trailer. Perfect! Honestly, I think the barn is what sold the place. Nine months later, Valentine showed up and the rest we’ve been blogging about since February 2006.
After more than seven years of blogging about our horse experience, I realize I’ve never gone into much detail about the barn. And since I have some things I want to do to the barn and I’ll want to write about those things, it seems like you need to know the basics.
Our barn has three finished horse stalls, one semi-finished stall with room for five total. We initially used two unfinished stalls for storage and had no intention on having more than three horses but then Romeo and Cash came along so we cleaned out one of the storage stalls. Romeo occupied that stall for a while but now it belongs to Jazzy the mule. We plan to replace the metal gate (which Romeo got his head stuck in years ago) we use as a wall with a full wooden wall. The barn is open in the center aisle and the aisle is big enough to drive a truck, hay wagon or tractor through. At this point we don’t have doors on the ends but it’s an addition we’re planning. In the winter it’s darn cold in there and it would be nice to close up the barn during bad storms. Except for Jazzy’s, each stall has an inside door and an outside door/window combo. The roof is metal and boy does it make a racket during rain storms. The horse stalls are 12×12 with a dirt floor.
We love our barn but have some ideas for improvement and we’ll be writing about these as we accomplish them. This list isn’t in order of importance:
Paved center aisle
Outside lean-to for covered feeding
Hay loft over the storage stall (done! I’ll write about this soon)
Barn doors – each end. Either sliding or hinged
Water piping with quick disconnect
Horse shower capability
Stall flooring with drainage
Reinforced security door for tack room
Covered front “porch”
Paved parking area
Camera security system with remote monitoring
Rainwater collection system
Aerated composting system
Hay elevator for lofts (not as expensive as it sounds)
Slide pole for exiting lofts 🙂
Lights over every stall
Pneumatic pipes with quick-connects (for filling tires and running air tools)
Some of those are clearly luxury items, such as the paved center aisle and barn speakers but if you spend a lot of time in a barn, why not make it more enjoyable and easier to clean?
We’ve put most of these projects off all these years but we’re finally starting to catch up on projects. More later.
What’s on your list of horse-related projects this year?
About 6 months ago I posted a note discussing the wood-chewing habits of my dear Moonshine (Protecting Wooden Stall Doors – Part 1). We thought she was bored while in her stall overnight figuring that would explain why she like munching on her main stall door. So in November I went about fabricating an aluminum door cover to make it harder for her to destroy the door with her teeth. I was initially concerned she might bite through the aluminum, causing sharp edges that might cut her tongue or mouth. Six months later, that still hasn’t happened. The aluminum trim is pretty attractive still and hasn’t been damaged by my horse at all. Although at first she liked to lick it after eating her oats, she doesn’t seem to do that anymore. In fact, she doesn’t seem to chew on wood anymore. I mentioned this recently in the post titled Wood chewing habit update. It seems that since we changed to a different feed – Purina Strategy – Moonshine stopped chewing wood. From what people have been telling me, it seems like the feed store sweet oats we had been feeding her were lacking something she wanted/needed. Strategy provides it. Prior to Strategy we tried Purina Omolene 100 and that seemed to work, too.
I don’t plan on removing the aluminum shield I made but at this point I don’t think I’ll be making one for the other door. If you have a chewer and changing feed doesn’t work for you, in addition to trying some horse stall toys, a stall door cover/shield might help protect your barn and your horse until you have the problem licked.
It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything, for which I apologize. It was time to upgrade my PC and let’s just say it didn’t go well. 600 miles of driving (we live in the middle of nowhere and have to drive to Atlanta for computer parts) and 30 or so hours later, I’m finally up and running again. But it’s not like our little horse farm has been neglected this whole time, so let me catch up.
I (Bill) am a cold-weather sissy, I’ll admit it. I have been complaining for weeks at all the 30 degree days (Fahrenheit) and 18 degree nights, frozen hoses, frozen buckets, poopsicles, and multi-layer clothing. I’m tired of it. It seems global warming hasn’t quite made it to east Tennessee because the last month, in particular, has been very cold. But then a ray of hope appeared in the way of a weather forecast for relatively warm weather for at least the next week. In fact, sitting here I can see the thermometer and it shows the outside temperature at 73 degrees. We did barn work late last night without all the extra coats. This is nice! Come on spring!
We’re out of pasture hay. Those round bales I mentioned are long gone and I’m afraid the horses are considering eating the moldy parts they bypassed the first time. We’re tossing out square bales for them to eat, which is dwindling our supply. I’m looking forward to the grass growing again. Someone pointed out that horses are supposed to roam and forage for food and not eat as much in winter. Someone else suggested that the opposite is true, that horses need lots of food in winter to store as heat-generating fat (stored in their rump, I hear). Both make sense to me but we’re probably going to look for another round bale or two to hold us over until the grass starts to grow again.
I briefly saddled Moonshine up and hopped on, mostly to test my new saddle. But it’s been too cold to ride and train until now. If the weather is decent this weekend, perhaps we’ll take our horses for a walk.
As we move ahead towards Spring, we’re starting to make a list of things we need to do to get ready for warmer weather and projects we need to get working on. Our list includes:
Replace barbed wire fence near the barn with a wooden fence. We have the wood for this but we’re going to need a hole digger, preferably powered. This Tennessee clay is very difficult to shovel by hand.
Come up with a manure management system. I’ve been talking about it for a while and would like to try the aerated compost approach. More on that soon.
Bring in a truckload of sand for the pasture barn entrance. It’s a clay and mud mess back there. In the comments of our post “Turning out two horses by yourself“, Becky and Ryan suggested crushed limestone or sand, claiming good results.
Eradicate thorn bushes in the pasture.
Test orchard grass in a small section of pasture. I want to temporarily fence off a small section of pasture (about 1/4 acre) to plant some orchard grass. It’ll be a nice treat for the horses when the grass has grown in.
Treat the wood on the barn. Our barn is mostly wood and I’m guessing we need to occasionally treat it for protection against the weather.
Fix up the old barn. We’re going to purchase 8-10 round bales at the end of summer and this is where we want to store them. I’d rather fix it up now before the snakes wake up.
Install more lights in the barn.
I’m sure there will be more projects but that’s a pretty good list for now. What’s on your list? So that’s what’s going on around here this week. More soon!