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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May. 10, 2011
    Posts
    55

    Default Horsekeeping on small acreage

    My husband and I have just purchased a 4 acre lot that we are building our house on. Coincidentally one of his friends owns the adjoining 15 acres. We are looking to purchase some of his land so that we can have the horses at home. We will probably end up with 8-10 acres. The property is currently wooded and we are looking into clearing the trees and establishing pasture. It will be at least a year or two before we move the horses home. With that said how do you all manage your farms with small acreage? FYI we live in Culpeper, Va and will have 2-4 horses on the property.

    What are things you wish you would have done differently, or wouldn't have changed, etc.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 7, 2011
    Posts
    84

    Default

    We have 4acres and 2 horses and manage well....I would not have any more than 2 horses, grass is precious out here and more than 2 would deplete our grazing areas. Right now, we do not have a sacrifice area but will be fencing one in next, it will be about 1.5 acres plus the barn/runs and will allow me to keep them off of our grass during the growing season, so they will not overgraze. during our rainy season(july, august) I use very little hay, there is plenty of grass to sustain them- they chose to eat the grass and not the food in their feeders. I Like the 4 acres, it is enough for the horses to run and be silly if they want, I have a nice size area to ride in(unfenced) and it is not too big to where we are spending every waking minute with up-keep. our home was already built when we purchased, but I am thankful that the house was built in the front corner of the property, which has given us maximum horsey areas....I see homes where they have built in the middle of the 4 acres and it does not seem to work out as well space wise for horses, so you will want to carefully consider where you are putting you home, and where your barn/turnout areas will be in relation to the house....if I had more then two horses say three or four I would want at least 8 acres, broken into various pastures, so I could rotate pastures, separate horses if need be and have enough room to ride.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec. 1, 2007
    Location
    Gettysburg, PA
    Posts
    2,619

    Default

    Allow a year for the pastures to get established. That season will also let you see how it drains. Depending on what you end up with, figure out your manure management plan before getting them home. I would have dug out around the sheds, round bale feeder and gates and put in gravel and stone dust prior to dealing with mud in those area
    Epona Farm
    Irish Draughts and Irish Sport horses

    Join us on Facebook



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug. 8, 2007
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    1,230

    Default

    The thread title reminded me of a book I saw a long time ago.

    http://www.amazon.com/Horsekeeping-S.../dp/158017535X



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 2, 2001
    Location
    Packing my bags
    Posts
    30,971

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PiaffePlease View Post
    The thread title reminded me of a book I saw a long time ago.

    http://www.amazon.com/Horsekeeping-S.../dp/158017535X

    LOL, I thought that's what the thread was about!

    I think in Western Horseman Magazine I saw a picture series about her barn...NEAT is all I can say!
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2005
    Location
    Va
    Posts
    3,536

    Default

    My friend purchased some property with a house on it, about 15 acres all wooded. They cleared some of it, but I don't think they allowed enough time for the grass to get established as she does not have good pastures. You may need several years after having cleared the property to get some decent grass. I would probably make a few smaller sacrifice areas to allow resting of developing pastures so you end up with decent grass. Good luck!



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar. 1, 2005
    Location
    maryland
    Posts
    5,219

    Default

    There is a good book by that name. You may want to look at it... it has lots of good ideas.

    The reality is that if you don't have enough acres of pasture, it's not the end of the world. You just budget to buy hay more months out of the year. As long as they get a safe area for enough turn-out, free of any toxic trees/plants, they'll be fine as you slowly clear land.

    As someone who bought a wooded lot myself, I will warn you that converting forest to good horse pasture is much more expensive and time consuming than you think. I had a logging company come in and buy the hardwood timber. They leave behind the tops, which I let friends cut up for firewood. You still have to deal with stumps and keeping brush/weed growth under control until area is ready for regular mowing. Expect to put money into soil tests, and if your area is like mine, expect to do multiple lime treatments to fix the acid pH of forest soil.

    If I was to do it all over again, I would never buy a lot with so much woods. It might cost a little more to get something cleared, but it's so much less headache. In a perfect world, I'd also would love to have it fenced when I buy it, too.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    May. 15, 2009
    Location
    Eastern Ontario, CND
    Posts
    2,191

    Default

    The book is okay, I use it for reference often, but I didn't find any new information in it.

    Exactly what Phil said, plus you can use pigs to help clear the stumps. You're looking at a lot of wasted space and ticks by turning your horses out in a wooded area.

    How we did it? \/
    Last edited by Nes; Sep. 1, 2011 at 11:34 AM. Reason: you could use bigs pigs I guess... typo
    "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
    Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
    Need You Now Equine



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb. 9, 2005
    Location
    Upper Midwest
    Posts
    5,662

    Default

    I don't get it--what's this??: V
    Siouxland Sporthorses: http://slsfarm.blogspot.com/

    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/



  10. #10
    Join Date
    May. 15, 2009
    Location
    Eastern Ontario, CND
    Posts
    2,191

    Default

    And arrow downward

    baby-on-lap fail
    "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
    Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
    Need You Now Equine



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2006
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    375

    Default

    The first step is to call your county Soil Conservation District to find out what type of soil you have. In this part of the world, the ground is so expensive that if it's got trees on it, 99% of the time, it's not good for growing anything, but wetland vegetation or pine trees. So, check that you have soil that can support pasture species and livestock.

    I work with folks such as yourself, who've bought land in our county wanting to bring horses to the farm, and it's so disheartening to have to tell them it's too darn wet to grow any grass, let alone put a horse in there.
    Alison Howard
    Homestead Farms, Maryland www.freshorganicvegetables.com



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul. 14, 2000
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    10,163

    Default

    Figure out where you would like the house's location to be, where the septic field and lines would be sited, and where the main electric and water lines will run on the property. Then figure out where you would like to put a barn. The bloody power, water and septic configuration on our property has hamstrung us on where we can place certain buildings.

    Slope and elevation are everything and may dictate where you can affordably put buildings on the property.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov. 7, 2006
    Location
    Knoxville TN
    Posts
    1,306

    Default

    Personally, I don't think you should clear-cut in order to build more housing in an age where the US is increasingly insisting that 'other countries' should cease deforestation on the grounds of increasing CO2 build up, global warm-up, climate change etc.

    Or you could just say "f&ck you, I don't give a cr@p" and build ever more housing on forested land.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug. 9, 2011
    Posts
    156

    Default

    Just make sure and always have atleast 1 pasture open, so no overgrazing occurs!
    "The best pace is a suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die!"
    ----> Pre



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr. 18, 2010
    Location
    Florida, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default

    Could you put your home in the forested area, possibly clear an acre or two for barn/arena/sacrifice, and use the current 4 acres for pasture? Not sure what kind of riding you do, but then you could keep the remaining for trails. It would help if you're not sure about the type of pasture you'll get after cutting down the forest; it will keep most of the trees and still allow for your home and barn.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    May. 15, 2009
    Location
    Eastern Ontario, CND
    Posts
    2,191

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KateWooten View Post
    Personally, I don't think you should clear-cut in order to build more housing in an age where the US is increasingly insisting that 'other countries' should cease deforestation...
    I can appreciate the sentiment, but last I checked grass was a plant too...Not exactly putting up a paved parking lot .

    Horses just aren't carbon neutral period.
    "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
    Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
    Need You Now Equine


    1 members found this post helpful.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar. 26, 2005
    Location
    Back to Normal.. or as close as I'll ever get
    Posts
    9,252

    Default I have 2 words for you:

    Perimeter Fencing.

    I bought a 5ac farmette, house was already there with about 1ac of lawn & the rest leased bean/corn fields.
    In hindsight, I wish I'd fenced off as much as possible for pastures and left the house with minimal mowable lawn space.
    I'd be happy to have as little as 1/4ac for the house/lawn.

    Since you are putting the house in you will need to check local ordinances as well as determine the legal/practical layout for your well & septic before planning where the barn & pastures will go.

    If you are a patient soul like me, pastures will eventually get established.
    I had my small - 1/2ac - pasture drill-seeded the first year but then did not keep horses off after grass came up.
    The larger - 2ac - I hand-seeded with a walk-behind spreader.
    This is Year 7 for me & finally I have enough grass so I am feeding nearly zero hay to 1 horse & 1 pony while there's grass for them.
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009
    Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug. 7, 2005
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    2,500

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by philosoraptor View Post
    As someone who bought a wooded lot myself, I will warn you that converting forest to good horse pasture is much more expensive and time consuming than you think. I had a logging company come in and buy the hardwood timber. They leave behind the tops, which I let friends cut up for firewood. You still have to deal with stumps and keeping brush/weed growth under control until area is ready for regular mowing. Expect to put money into soil tests, and if your area is like mine, expect to do multiple lime treatments to fix the acid pH of forest soil.

    If I was to do it all over again, I would never buy a lot with so much woods. It might cost a little more to get something cleared, but it's so much less headache. In a perfect world, I'd also would love to have it fenced when I buy it, too.
    If you turn wood land into pasture expect to have holes appear for years and years and years, too. Forty two years after clearing we're STILL having holes to fill up with rocks. I've just about run out of rocks and we had a lot!
    You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan. 27, 2002
    Location
    Arlington, VA US
    Posts
    1,348

    Default

    Univ of MD has a good pasture utilization study program and holds frequent seminars (free I believe)- I would get with them
    Appy Trails,
    Kathy & Cadet
    member CDCTA www.cdcta.com, TROT www.trot-md.org & Free State Appaloosa Horse Club freestateaphc.org



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 2005
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    1,374

    Default

    Before you do anything at all, check, check and recheck your local zoning and livestock ordinances. Most towns now require a manure removal plan. Others will have space/head limitations.
    Be very sure before you spend a nickle on the place that you can do what you want.
    Then develop a manure removal/management plan. So many people ignore it and then it ends up being a nightmare. Your adult, full size horse poops on average, 18 times a day and produces a square yard of waste per week.



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