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Things you wish you knew when you bought your first farm...

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  • Things you wish you knew when you bought your first farm...

    My husband and I are starting the first part of our research into moving and that includes a house with enough property to have a barn for our minis.

    I am trying to come up with a list of things we should know about and what to account for financially before we make this leap so we not only account for buying the house, but everything else to get it ready for the horses and also to maintain it for the horses.

    Before you ask - I have zero desire to find a big enough barn to board. I've been boarding my entire life and have met my share of crazy barn mates that I will never want to be BO/BM ever! I just want my horses on my property and be able to enjoy them.

    What are things you wish you knew before going into it? What can you pass on to a newbie?

  • #2
    Make sure at least part of the property stays dry for most of the year, or you're gonna end up spending a fortune on mud remediation.

    Comment


    • #3
      Take a good look at the neighboring properties - the property itself, how they maintain it, how they use it, what animals they keep, etc. Then the neighbors themselves - arrest records? allow hunting on their property? Noise complaints? Check them out and/or go meet them. Lots of black tire marks on a paved road are a bad sign, by the way.

      There was no Zillow or Google Earth or other online tools when I was looking back in 2001, like there are today. The local assessors office property records can also be helpful with research - many are online too. Be nosey! You may be living next to them for a long time.

      ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~

      Comment


      • #4
        In addition to what Dungrulla said, my only real regret is paying attention to water flow. DH and I did lots of planning and built a house, 6-stall barn, attached shed, other sheds, outdoor ring, etc., and the ONLY regret I have is that we didn't raise the barn about a foot. When it rained, water would come in the front of the barn. We eventually dug a drain and diverted the water that way, but if we had just raised the barn a little, we would not have had that problem.

        Comment


        • #5
          The first thing you should familiarize yourself with is the zoning laws. These laws vary by township and restrict the things you can do with the property. Don't take the word of a town official, get it in writing or better yet, print out a copy of the zoning laws and read them so you are clear on what the property can and cannot be used for. The zoning laws are a big deal. You really need to start there. You don't want to purchase a parcel that is zoned for one horse when you have two, etc.

          Comment


          • #6
            Remember:

            Realtors / Sellers are not always honest / forthcoming

            Title Searches (should) but don’t always list what they are required to list ..expl. Gas pipelines ... as in old lines that everyone in the area knows except newcomers.
            And you can’t see ! Water lines / laterals ...

            Visit at different times of day to experience ...noise, neighbors dogs.

            Turn on every system to make sure it works ...

            Become a non-believer = like you’re from Missouri = the ‘SHOW ME ‘ State .....

            Tough to find a horse property in between a huge barn and trailer home ... and/ or a luxury home and minimum barn.

            Try to buy as close to your needs as is possible and refrain from building / remodeling : service providers are not what they used to be!



            Good Luck - not as easy and fun as this shopping should be !
            Stock the liquor cabinet before you begin this adventure !
            Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

            Comment


            • #7
              Good advice here already.
              Especially on Zoning - just because horses are currently on the property, that right may not transfer to a new owner.
              Shame to buy a place & end up unable to keep your horses on it.

              I will add:

              *Get estimates on any house or barn renovations you have in mind - contractors should be able to quote you & most are aware of any permitting you will need.

              *Consider perimeter fencing. Who needs acres of lawn to mow?
              I wish I had fenced more of my measly 5ac for pasture. As it is I did about 60% and now pay someone to mow the lawns.
              If I could afford a redo, I'd perimeter fence all but maybe 1/4ac for the house & veg/flower gardens.
              More pasture = less hay purchased.
              More turnout = sounder, happier horses.
              Although my 3 - horse,pony,mini - are all healthy & happy I feed hay year-round. A lot less in Summer & as long as grass grows, but still....
              *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
              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

              Comment


              • #8
                You're going to need twice as much money as you think you will.

                Never buy property that doesn't have frontage on a county-owned and maintained road. Access easements and shared driveways are tools of the devil.

                Others have already covered many good points, especially verify zoning, check out the neighbors, and fence everything for pasture. Lawns are a waste of good grass.
                "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
                that's even remotely true."

                Homer Simpson

                Comment


                • #9
                  That it is nearly impossible to get a loan to build a barn and indoor arena. It may not apply to OP, but I wish I'd known!

                  If you are building a sizable structure, land preparation costs can be $$$. I think mine was over $30K. Bringing water and electric to a new building isn't cheap either.
                  That's fine, many of us have slid down this slippery slope and became very happy (and broke) doing it. We may not have a retirement, but we have memories ...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Install big gates. Thought we were clever to use 8' gates --1/2 the price of 16' gates -but impossible to get equipment into/out of our fields. Also, oddly, our stable, Amish built only a couple of years before we bought the property has end doors only 9' wide ---a pickup will pull through, but not a hay wagon. That means we need an elevator to put hay in the mow. OH --lady near us built the ideal barn/indoor. For her and her horses. The hay guys hate the place (some won't deliver) because of the way the driveway goes in front of the barn, you cannot get a hay wagon or truck close --hay must be taken off the vehicle and carried to the elevator -- it sure looks pretty though --she had it paved with brick.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      "Contractor" is a 4-letter word. Don't take anyone's word for ANYTHING. And don't leave people unsupervised ever.

                      The most valuable thing I DID know & did right: make soils/hydrology the top priority. I bought the top of a hill at the top of the watershed with good-draining soil, very little clay, & NO flat surfaces. That paid off in spades this past soggy winter.

                      Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                      Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                      We Are Flying Solo

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by horsegal301 View Post
                        My husband and I are starting the first part of our research into moving and that includes a house with enough property to have a barn for our minis.

                        I am trying to come up with a list of things we should know about and what to account for financially before we make this leap so we not only account for buying the house, but everything else to get it ready for the horses and also to maintain it for the horses.

                        Before you ask - I have zero desire to find a big enough barn to board. I've been boarding my entire life and have met my share of crazy barn mates that I will never want to be BO/BM ever! I just want my horses on my property and be able to enjoy them.

                        What are things you wish you knew before going into it? What can you pass on to a newbie?
                        Congrats!! You will be poor for the rest of your life. Just kidding. Kind of. Great suggestions above. Fall in love with electric fencing. It is way less expensive to install and maintain, and the horses will not rub on it like they will rub on wood or no climb. Plus you can get the mower deck under it, so less fenceline to weed eat.
                        "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post
                          Good advice here already.
                          Especially on Zoning - just because horses are currently on the property, that right may not transfer to a new owner.
                          Shame to buy a place & end up unable to keep your horses on it.
                          YUP. I once looked at a property in a small neighborhood with an HOA. The property didn't have a house but it had a lovely little barn with a gorgeous fenced pasture, and the owner had kept horses there for years. We did some digging (looking into options for building a house there) and it turned out that the very old HOA rules did not allow horses! No one had ever bothered the previous owner about hers, but a conversation with the "head" of the HOA (A.K.A. the guy that had lived in the neighborhood the longest) left us with some hesitations about whether or not a new owner would be allowed to continue keeping horses. It was too messy, so we walked away. In hindsight, the property was fairly inexpensive for the location and amenities... Wonder why.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Definitely plan ahead for weather extremes
                            -- water / drainage --mud control
                            -- heat / sun --shade and shelter
                            -- winter --where will you pile all the snow?

                            100% agree with everyone who said perimeter fence and wide gates. For your perimeter fencing, you may want to consider no-climb wire with top boards. This will help keep predators out, and any farm dogs in. It's also harder for mischievous ponies to strategize an escape plan.

                            Plan on a lot more tools and toys than you think you'll need. A tractor w/ FEL is pretty critical. We made due without for a year, but once we got one it was sooooo much better. Just get one sooner

                            With minis, maybe not as much of an issue, but have a manure management plan. It's shocking how fast a manure pile (or mountain, cough, cough) grows

                            Minis won't have the same requirements as full sized horses. However, scaling the barn and fences for larger horses gives you options if you ever want to branch out or board (for a friend, not as a business). It also will appeal to a wider variety of buyers when you decide to sell.

                            A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's wine...wine does that...

                            http://elementfarm.blogspot.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wildlifer View Post
                              "Contractor" is a 4-letter word. Don't take anyone's word for ANYTHING. And don't leave people unsupervised ever.
                              I would suggest do not sign any construction contract that does not state a specific completion date and a enforceable penalty clause that escalates when there is failure to complete

                              Also.... high dollar projects... use a bank officer or attorney to oversee the payments and do not advance pay for any work not completed.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Dig into rural development plans. Around here, lots of properties are going up for sale that have me suspicious what the county might be up to long term.

                                Here in the PNW, my joke has always been 'best time of year to buy a house is winter, because you can see where all the water is.' Seriously, when we had our house built 20 years ago, we already knew we'd need a sump pump and an overly deep crawl space. And we are on a hill!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by ElementFarm View Post

                                  Minis won't have the same requirements as full sized horses. However, scaling the barn and fences for larger horses gives you options if you ever want to branch out or board (for a friend, not as a business). It also will appeal to a wider variety of buyers when you decide to sell.
                                  we have both minis and real horses.... it is easy to subdivide a 12by12 real horse stall into two 6by8 miniature horse stalls .... all is substantial but takes less than 15 minutes to remove

                                  Click image for larger version

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                                  a rule of thumb for us has been three minis equal one horse in manure production whereas one miniature can cause three times the problems of one horse

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Zoning is a big deal, make sure you know for sure if horses are allowed and how many per acre. Water and sewage are important, well/septic or city water and sewer lines. If well and septic make sure they are in good working condition and have them tested.

                                    Make sure the property you find (house, barn, acreage) is cleaned of any debris/trash left from the previous owner.

                                    When looking at properties consider what you are going to do with manure and waste hay etc. You may need to rent a dumpster by the month if living in a more urban area, if you are out in the country you may be able to compost, just something to remember as it can add additional monthly costs.

                                    Depending on acreage you may need equipment to mow and what ever else needs to be maintained. At minimum a riding mower.

                                    Having horsey neighbors helps when needing vet and farriers, its much easier finding someone that is already doing other horses in the neighborhood and often you can split farm calls if you have nice neighbors that are needing a vet out etc.

                                    Don't buy more than you can easily afford, account for unexpected emergency costs and factor that into what you can comfortably afford for monthly bills.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      If you use a contractor/builder/outsourced labor, get a copy of their insurance up front and verify it to make sure they are legit. I paid for my barn 3 times because I didn't do this.

                                      Zoning is a huge deal. When building my place, I almost didn't get approval because I had to have neighbors sign off on the barn build (which wasn't anywhere in the substantial online research I had done prior to moving in). This is even with being zone agricultural.

                                      Everything will always, always cost more than you think. Even if you DIY.
                                      Brand Loyal
                                      BLM Mustangs: Smokey, Dollar, & Tanner
                                      BLM Burros: Radar & Ping

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                                      • #20
                                        Whatever utilities you need, make sure they're available, and how much it will cost to run them to your house and barn. If something like a whole house generator, or something similar is necessary, and you want it run off of propane or natural gas, check availability and costs. If you have to have high speed internet or real cable, then make sure from the provider that it's available for your needs. Check for cell phone service at the house and barn. Is there good road frontage? Who maintains the road, and is it gravel/dirt, or hard surface?

                                        Look at the Google maps overhead view, and see what's within a couple of miles. Being downwind of a pig farm, or sewage plant is awful. Do any neighboring properties look like a junkyard, or hoard? Does the property have leases or easements, or shared driveway? Get a survey. Is there a volunteer fire department? That costs more for my homeowner's insurance, than a regular fire department. Is the property septic or sewer? If it's septic, how old is it? Well water, or city? Are there zoning issues? Setback requirements.

                                        Is there room to double fence the road side pasture? Is the driveway configured where you can get semis or other vehicles on and off the property easily?
                                        Last edited by JanM; Sep. 24, 2019, 02:13 PM.
                                        You can't fix stupid-Ron White

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