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View Full Version : Buying your first horse farm ... Anything I should know?



PinkMartini
Mar. 23, 2012, 08:43 PM
So, the possibility may be coming true soon. We are in the market for our first home. We've planned out mostly a little hobby farm, maybe board a horse or two. But nothing serious.

Since we don't own any horses yet, our main focus is our living quarters. Fence is topped with barbed-wire so it has to go, but we can do that as we go. It will make some nice decor!! We've even mapped out a garden for growing our own vegetables! I loved doing this as a child, so it is a must for me.

So here I am asking advice from those who have jumped off of a cliff before me! Give me the good, the bad, and the ugly sides!

(General home buying advice and farm operating advice, please!)

ladybugred
Mar. 23, 2012, 09:20 PM
Be sure to get an inspection for home, barn, well and septic. Also get a Radon test.

LBR

And good luck!!!!

Toadie's mom
Mar. 23, 2012, 09:38 PM
Oh I can give a ton of advice :lol:, but not knowing your "particulars" I'll just give horse advice. Safe fencing was my 1st priority. We replaced barbed wire with pipe and "no climb/predator" wire. We have to deal with a-hole neighbors (who don't take care of their horses), so on that shared fence line we also have a hot wire on top.

After 16yrs. here we are building a new barn. Thank goodness the builder, and a friend, talked me into going bigger than my 1st plan. Now I'll have a hay storage area so I won't get caught short like this last year. Also have a winter place for my plants that are now in the dining room.

I only have 5 acres, and I don't mind riding alone, so I've resisted too much cross fencing. We cut the land pretty much in half and I ride (and have my jumps) on the back 2 1/2 acres.

fooler
Mar. 23, 2012, 10:24 PM
Determine how the water flows on your property then don't build there.:cool: The horse/barn was built by the prior owners and we deal with some flooding depending on the amount of rain. Put in stall mats before bringing the horses. Easier than doing it after the stall floors become uneven.
Hot wire on your fences makes you life much easier, my gelding had to teach DH that lesson:lol:
Like ToadiesMom said, think bigger, you can always use the space. That also goes for equipment, a tractor should be on your gotta buy list.

Welcome to the madness and congratulations.

Belg
Mar. 24, 2012, 12:22 AM
Don't invite anyone to board you wouldn't invite into your home. It keeps the barn a happy place, and the company good at the dinner table :) we've been so fortunate over the years to have awesome, awesome people.

Go Fish
Mar. 24, 2012, 01:04 AM
Buy more land than you assume you'll need.

Tapperjockey
Mar. 24, 2012, 01:48 AM
If you plan to board, keep in mind the additional insurance. Also check if you can take in boarders.. sometimes there are ordinances that govern that. Double and triple check the ordinances and codes in the area you plan to buy.

2DogsFarm
Mar. 24, 2012, 09:50 AM
Check & recheck your zoning if there are no horses living on the property now.

Even then, current owners could be grandfathered and you - as new owners - will not have the same rights.
It happens.

My 5ac was zoned for 2 horses when I bought 8 years ago. Sometime in the past 5 years zoning changed so a new owner could only have 1 "large animal" here now.

If zoning checks out I ditto getting as much land as you can possibly afford and building more barn than you think you need ;)

suz
Mar. 24, 2012, 10:10 AM
walk the land after heavy rains so you can identify the places you may need drainage or maybe a pond site.

i too spent the most money on the best fencing i could afford. perimeter fecning is fabulous, then you can create individual turnouts and fields thoughtfully as your particular needs develop.


check well water, septic age and capacity and maintanence records too.

introduce yourself to the neighbors and chat with them about the pros and cons of living there.

if you find someone who hates horses for instance, that might be good info when sighting your manure pile.
otoh if your nearest neighbor is an avid gardener they might be thrilled if you shared manure with them, and you might consider placing your pile closest to their property line.

hth!

IronwoodFarm
Mar. 24, 2012, 10:27 AM
Go Fish is right -- buy more land than you think you'll need. We started looking at 25 acre farms, moved to 50 and then ended up buying 95 acres. A few years ago, we bought another 38 acres next door.

Get your financing in order. Depending on what size farm/farmette you buy, you may not have a conforming property by residential real estate standards. Residential real estate typically has restrictions on how much acreage is involved. So it really pays to get educated about the financing. Talk to Farm Credit or other companies that finance farms and "country properties." It will be very helpful when you are shopping.

jetsmom
Mar. 24, 2012, 11:17 AM
Go meet the neighbors before you put an offer on the house. Ask them about loose dogs, people shooting firecrackers, hunters, flooding, etc. You'll be miserable if you buy a place and hate your neighbors. You can kind of get a feel for people just talking to them for a little bit.
Try to go drive out there on a Sat night, and on a holiday like 4th of July if the timing works out.

PinkMartini
Mar. 24, 2012, 11:25 PM
The place we are considering is a little 'ranchette' in a community of ranchettes. It's still in the same postal code as I am. I know the area pretty well. Used to know a few people who lived on the same road, but they sold and moved to a larger place.

I'm not dead set on the idea of boarding. I've just met way to many shady people. I thought they were nice, but in the end I was the one who got hurt (financially and physically).

No pond, but there is a pond on both neighbors properties. It's a quiet neighborhood. Dirt road (with lots of holes!). 5 Acres. That is more than enough for me. A small (2 stall) barn with a 12'x24' tack/feed room. No electricity in the barn, but I can always have that done. And after that is done, I'll be adding a concrete floor. I HATE dirt floors. Last place I boarded had dirt floors and they were DIGGING the pee out of the floor. A 2' deep and 10' diameter hole is NOT acceptable in a stall for a horse. (Especially if there is a tree stump in the middle of it!)

Farm Credit - Yay or Nay?

Tapperjockey
Mar. 24, 2012, 11:47 PM
The place we are considering is a little 'ranchette' in a community of ranchettes. It's still in the same postal code as I am. I know the area pretty well. Used to know a few people who lived on the same road, but they sold and moved to a larger place.

I'm not dead set on the idea of boarding. I've just met way to many shady people. I thought they were nice, but in the end I was the one who got hurt (financially and physically).

No pond, but there is a pond on both neighbors properties. It's a quiet neighborhood. Dirt road (with lots of holes!). 5 Acres. That is more than enough for me. A small (2 stall) barn with a 12'x24' tack/feed room. No electricity in the barn, but I can always have that done. And after that is done, I'll be adding a concrete floor. I HATE dirt floors. Last place I boarded had dirt floors and they were DIGGING the pee out of the floor. A 2' deep and 10' diameter hole is NOT acceptable in a stall for a horse. (Especially if there is a tree stump in the middle of it!)

Farm Credit - Yay or Nay?

It sounds like it is in a community type situation. in that case don't triple check the ordinances...

Quazillion check them. (is that a word?). Read the fine print. Have everyone and their mother's dentist read the fine print too..

PinkMartini
Mar. 25, 2012, 12:37 AM
It sounds like it is in a community type situation. in that case don't triple check the ordinances...

Quazillion check them. (is that a word?). Read the fine print. Have everyone and their mother's dentist read the fine print too..

It's not really a community. Most if not all of the houses have been there since the 60's & 70's ... And both of the newer homes are mobile/manufactured homes. It's in a rural type setting. My only negative about the neighborhood is that dang road. The road is not maintained well. And some of those holes blend in so well!

clanter
Mar. 25, 2012, 11:50 AM
. My only negative about the neighborhood is that dang road. The road is not maintained well. And some of those holes blend in so well!

private road or public? ... private street repairs maybe prorated by ratio of lot frontage to the street

Even If in the outback the area may still be under the extraterritorial jurisdiction of a nearby town/city

PinkMartini
Mar. 25, 2012, 03:44 PM
private road or public? ... private street repairs maybe prorated by ratio of lot frontage to the street

Even If in the outback the area may still be under the extraterritorial jurisdiction of a nearby town/city

I believe that they are private roads, but not completely sure.

susanne
Mar. 25, 2012, 03:49 PM
The hidden benefit of living on a bad road: your neighbors are less likely to race past your house, arena, etc.

Bluey
Mar. 25, 2012, 03:58 PM
Life happens and if not, moves on and some day you will want to sell.

Don't buy anything you may think you can't sell later, no excuses.

Go by the local USDA Farm Service Agency and get some of their maps of your place and talk to them.
You never know what all they may say, about any waterways or any other.
They have cost share programs that you may qualify for, to establish pastures, work on your water, well and lines, help control noxious weeds and brush and help build fences.

Most everything else has been well covered already, yes to your local land bank association for loans.:yes:

hosspuller
Mar. 26, 2012, 02:06 AM
Check everything with your realtor. Ask about flight paths if near an airport. Check, check and ask questions. check zoning, check town planning for road construction ... near and far future. You don't want to be in the path of the interstate. A farm/et is a lot of your labor. The appraiser doesn't take that into consideration for value.

Think about hobby farm... maybe a real farm would have tax advantages you could use. Ask what qualifies to be a real farm in your area.

Ambitious Kate
Mar. 26, 2012, 02:56 PM
Check with zoning to see how many horses your particular property is zoned for. You may be surprised to find out its only zoned for two horses; there goes your boarding plans. Or you may find out there is an underground stream on yoru particuar plot and you aren't allowed any large animals, or any animals at all on it.

don't assume. Make sure. You may find that you aren't allowed to build any more buildings on the lot or that you won't be allowed to update the existing barn because it is too close to some boundary and you will have to relocate and build from scratch. These kinds of things can surprise youuu - better to find out before you buy than after.

For example: I rent a property which I looked up about, for fun, thinking I might buy it. Its actually 3.5 acres in the middle of 1/4 acre lots - cool, I thought. Its actually zoned a residential2 lot, instead of the residential1 lots surrounding it. Res2 means I can build a second house on the property. Cool, right? Not so much. I can't for example build a barn on it, because you can't build a structure/foundation within 100yds of an existing property line, including the pretend property line of the pretend house I might never build. The way the property is surveyed for the second structure leaves no area where I could build a barn giving the barn 100yds distances from either my structures or the neighbor's boundary lines, because part of the 3.5 acres is marshland, and I would have to build a certain distance away from that as well. So if I bought it, I would have to have the property rezoned, in which case I would lose a grandfathered farmland status. Even though in this town 3.5 acres allows me to have 2 horses, not in this particular community with the 1/4 acre lots surrounding me. Very wierd, very particular, and very restriciting. I could go to the town and re-zone and claim historical president based on some old barn foundations on the property, as rehabbing existing structures would take president over building new ones, and I could build closer to property lines than 100yds with historical existing structures, but the foundations might not be considered structures, even though they are 1.5 stories tall, as they might be foundations and not remaining walls, etc. and it gets really whacky.

You never know what you can and can't do with the property until you go to the town and find out. Don't get stuck with something you can't work with. Find out before you buy, and don't assume anything.

LauraKY
Mar. 26, 2012, 03:52 PM
Double, triple, quadruple check everything...zoning, everything the real estate agent tells you. We found out there is no broadband here. And won't be for a very long time. We have satellite. :( Satellite sucks.

Best advice I was ever given...make no big changes for a year and buy some roundpen panels. Round pen panels can be used for broken fence sections, an injury turnout....the list goes on and on.

You really do want to check on who pays for the road. We have an HOA and road repairs are always a problem.

Spooks
Mar. 27, 2012, 09:49 AM
DH and I have just started construction on our small horse property. I agree with what everyone has said about checking zoning and building/animal restrictions. There can be restrictions that you would never have thought of, owing to various changes that have been made over the years to the bylaws. In my very horsey town we have different categories of horse property, some of which limit the number of horses and some which do not. It's also forested, which means that we have to clear any land which we are using for buildings and paddocks. (VERY EXPENSIVE TO DO THIS!) All other trees must remain on the property unless we get permission from the town to cut it, on a per-tree basis.

There are also many rules about where buildings can be located on the property and in relation to each other. Organizing our place was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle in order to accommodate all of the setbacks. If you have a smaller property it is crucial to know what the rules are, and whether you'll be able to put in everything that you want to put in.

Do you need to put in a new septic system and/or well? Be sure to find out what space you need to allow for that, and where. If those things are already in place, make sure they conform to the bylaws so you don't have to fork out the money to have them relocated after you find out that you have a non-conforming layout that was put in back in the day when nobody was checking.

Go out now if you can and walk around the property to see how the Spring melt is going. Is it muddy? Are there low spots or spots with obviously poor drainage? What's the soil like - sandy, or heavy with clay? Improving the land to get decent drainage can be expensive.

Is there a place to ride, or trail access? Having the horses at home is great but not very practical if you have no place to ride them (assuming they are not retirees). In my case, I have limited turnout space as it is and never would have bought our particular land if it were not for the fact that we have direct access to a huge trail network.

fairtheewell
Mar. 27, 2012, 10:18 AM
I agree on having panels on hand. Very helpful over time.
I would look for unrestricted zoning if possible.
I had a horse property on a dirt road...holes are tough on trailers and vehicles; we sold it right before they paved it and the price for paving was passed on to those who remained.
Make sure perimeter fencing is safe and in place already.
Keep the barn area centralized.
If you don't have trail access, you'll need an arena, big field, round pen or someplace to ride.
Close neighbors (especially non-horsey) can be a PITA.
Make sure you have turn around room for big trailers and for feed deliveries.
Try to store hay in different building than where your horses are housed.
Keep your manure pile far away from your house, so you can sit outside.
Better yet, if you have enough room, get a spreader (they have little ones that hook onto lawn tractors if you have a small property.
Floats for water tanks in fields.
If you are sure of where you will fence for turn-out, the non-climb fencing is best....use pipe if possible (wood posts will rot over time or break)., also, make sure the wire is on the inside of the paddock/field so horses can't push it out or chew posts if they are wood. It is difficult to switch out wire that is attached to wooden posts.
Buy yourself a pair of good Fence Pliers. They do everything.
Don't use stall door closures that slide back and forth and flip down (the one with the rod and bend at the end)...they are very dangerous.

ReSomething
Mar. 27, 2012, 12:29 PM
I had a laundry list of stuff, the most important of which were easements cause I didn't want to have to live my life around another one again for a very long time. (private road bisecting small property, what a pain)

We had DSL and cell phone service up here and I was really pleased. We had affordable trash service out here and were close to the dump but not on the way to it - you never want to live on the road to the dump, trust me on that.
City water, newer septic with a lagoon system. Lagoons seem to last forever but are hard to site, you have to have the right soil to seal the pond so it never begins to perk. They also have to be fenced off and use up space, but ours doesn't smell much more than the manure piles etc. I never wanted to have to dig up and replace another septic field again if I could help it either, BTDT.

I was also really watching the lay of the land. I could have done better, any time you buy property with some grade to it you may get a lovely view and quick drainage, but sloping pasture gets damaged when the ground is wet, the horses step down and slip, tearing up the turf vs making a water retaining pock mark like they'd do on flat ground, so for each step you lose more turf. There's some perfect degree of slope that drains the water off without getting flayed by horse hooves, and it's really close to flat. But flat without drain tiles equals a swamp. Great to look at but horses make muck so fast . . .

Zoning, future town expansion, those pesky easements again, and no offense to the hard working equine realtors out there, but don't believe anything you are told about the suitablity of the place. Or NOT told either.
I drove out to look at this place in the spring time and I could see grass and debris in the barb wire fence along the side of the road, next to the pretty creek. NO body said anything about access issues, but when I asked how often the road was closed due to said pretty creek overtopping it's banks I suddenly got answers. But if I hadn't seen it, known what it meant, and asked straight out they would never have said a thing.

Zu Zu
Mar. 27, 2012, 08:39 PM
XRAY VISION NEEDED :eek::yes:

AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT IS ON 'TOP' OF THE GROUND IS WHAT MAY BE LURKING UNDERGROUND :yes:

CAN THE GROUND SUPPORT SEPTIC SYSTEM ?

UNMARKED :eek: ( UNDERGROUND) GAS PIPELINES ???!!!

HAVE LOCATORS OUT TO MARK ULTILITY LINES ((1-800 - DIG )) IN ORDER TO BE SURE OF WHAT IS BENEATH THE SOIL ```AND WHERE !!

REALTORS ARE NOT ALWAYS HONEST NOR OR TITLE COMPANIES... EVEN WITH A TITLE SEARCH THAT LOOKS 'CLEAR" ONE MUST INVESTIGATE THE EDGES OF THE PROPERTY FOR HIDDEN MARKERS :eek: ...

VISIT THE PROPERTY AT NIGHT AND 'LISTEN'

INVESTIGATE FULLY AND THEN RE=INVESTIGATE .... WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING ON USING THE PROPERTY FOR 'NOW' but but ALSO IN THE FUTURE ????? !!!!

IS THIS LAND A 'SOUND' INVESTMENT FOR 'NOW AND FOR THE 'FUTURE'???

GOOD LUCK ....

PinkMartini
Mar. 27, 2012, 10:02 PM
Well, I don't even think we are going to be able to get this place. They pulled it off the market ... And re-listed it a day later $20,000 above what we can afford. And the people selling it are REFUSING to take offers below what they are NOW asking.

I loved this place. It was 5 minutes from my parents (taking the back roads, I'd never have to hit ANY main road!) A friend of our family used to live 2 houses down. He loved the neighborhood. He needed a bigger place so he moved. It's hard to find any acreage here, especially for under $100,000.

Guess I shouldn't have showed how much I loved it huh?

le Sigh ... Looks it is back to the drawing boards.