Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Barn Building Adventures

Welcome to my new journal - Barn Building Adventures.

I'm starting this journal as my husband, Spencer, and I start out on a big adventure - building my new horse barn. We've got 10 acres, 5 horses of our own, and anywhere from 1-3 foster horses at a time. We just moved to this property in May and it needs a barn. The horses just went through their first real rain with no shelter - and they're not happy campers! They've threatened to call animal control if we don't get to work on a barn right this second. So we are!

We're not going into this adventure completely unprepared. When we were much poorer and much more desperate, we rebuilt a falling-apart mobile home so we would have someplace to live. We bought that thing for a whopping $50. Rebuilt it, lived in it, and then resold it for $3500. Not bad!

We've also built a 12 x 12 shed to house our well pump, water treatment system and assorted tools and the lawn mower. It wasn't perfect, but we learned a lot. AND that little shed was the only structure on the property that took minimal damage from Hurricane Ike. Our house was rendered unlivable for six months. Our barn disappeared. But the shed lost one piece of trim board, got a dent in one door knob, and lost about 5 shingles. So we were pretty proud of it.

And after Hurricane Ike stole my very first barn, a little pole barn that we made work, we built an awesome barn. My friend Julie designed that barn. Our contractor, Chop, and his guys and Julie did a lot of work on the barn. We put in a lot of sweat equity, but they did do a lot of the hard work. We won't have their help this time, and that's a bit intimidating!

We've designed the barn. It'll be a 32 x 48 foot barn with a raised center aisle. There will be seven 12 x 10 foot stalls and a 12 x 10 foot tack room (which may end up housing feed, too). We'll store hay in the 3 sided shed that currently houses our feed and two stalls. I'll bring a bale over each day in the wheel barrel. I hate having hay stored in the barn, so this will be good. The south side of the barn will have 4 1/2 foot stall walls and will then be open to the roof. The north side will be most enclosed as that's where most of the rain comes from. Each stall will have a gate/door that opens into the barn aisle and one that opens out behind the stall. We're going to give each stall its own paddock - 12 x 20-30 feet. They aren't big paddocks, but it'll be someplace we can confined the horses when we need to keep them off the pasture. It'll also make horse care easier for Spencer if I'm out of town - he can let everyone have access to their paddocks and just dump feed and water and not have to worry about turning horses out or bringing them in.

The only other things I can think of to add to this barn to make it my "dream barn" would be a wash rack with hot/cold water, automatic waters, rolling doors at both ends, and a feed room that's separate from the tack room. Otherwise, this barn design is perfect for me.

We've bought most of the tools we're going to need that we didn't already have - namely an air compressor and nail guns. And a few small things we needed to replace post-hurricane (level, square, etc). And we upgraded a few tools.

We've picked our site. We just had about 10 inches of rain and went back out to check the site. Next to the house, it is the driest place on the property. This means we won't have to build up the site much. Thank goodness!

We've got our lumber list worked out, and today we're going to place the order for lumber. That makes it all seem more real. Tonight, we're going out to burn the burn pile which lays right in the middle of the barn. Once it is down, we'll mow and stake out the area. That'll involve a lot of measuring, re-measuring and re-measuring again.

I'll post progress photos as I get them.

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