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Can I make due with 4 acres?

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  • Can I make due with 4 acres?

    I said I had stopped looking for farms. I lied. I found a place that is IDEALLY located. However, there are only 4 acres of pasture. I would need to turn some of that into an outdoor ring as well. I plan on a sacrifice paddock off the barn and feeding hay. I just don't want to look at a cesspool all summer long.

    Mainly for two-three horses.

    Should I wait for more land? I'm ok on the house (it is the opposite of charming--built in the late 70's--basically a rectangle). It has some pros (totally updated, new roof, windows, furnace, walkout, custom cabinets, etc.) and it has some cons (built wayyy too close to the road, but it is a quiet road, smaller than my current house, small bedrooms).

    There is an existing (ugly) 30 x 56 foot shed with no overhang and no natural light. It is set up very oddly (two super long super narrow stalls and then a 30x30 storage area). But it is in good shape.

    It isn't my dream property, but it is very affordable (even with putting in flooring, fencing, etc.). I can ride a bike to work--it is just outside of town (but not in the direction they will/are developing). Or I can wait...
    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

  • #2
    Sure you can.

    We have 5 acres, 4 horses for now and we'll have more. With proper management, it can work just fine!

    Just be prepared to provide hay year-round.
    Breeding & Sales
    Facebook | YouTube


    • #3
      If it wasn't so close to work, would you still want it?

      Sounds like the answer is no. I would wait. Prices will continue to drop, more inventory will be coming on to the market in the next couple of months. The perfect place will pop up.

      Good luck

      I reject your reality, and substitute my own- Adam Savage

      R.I.P Ron Smith, you'll be greatly missed


      • #4
        You don't like the house, you don't like the barn, you don't like the size of the property... remind me, why are you considering this place again??
        ... and Patrick


        • #5
          The answer to the actual question asked is yes, you can do fine with small acreage. Plan to have a dry lot that is used frequently; turnout on grass pastures will be a treat (with frequency of treating depending on how many horses, weather, ground conditions, etc.). You will spend more on hay. But it is imminently doable, if not the ideal of acres of lush pasture that most of us have in our minds.

          But I have to echo other posters who question why you are considering this property that seems to have little to recommend it to you. What DO you like about the property? What DON'T you like? Longer list wins.
          Equinox Equine Massage

          In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
          -Albert Camus


          • #6
            I would agree, you CAN make do with the acerage but if you can afford to hold out until you find something you're more happy (house/facility/land wise) with and do not have to invest a lot of time giving it a facelift, why rush?
            Owned by a Paint/TB and an OTTB.
            RIP Scoutin' For Trouble ~ 2011 at 10
            RIP Tasha's Last Tango ~ 2010 at ~23
            RIP In Sha' Allah ~ 2009 too young at 5


            • #7
              Don't settle for 4 acres for 2-3 horses when the rest of the property isn't tripping your trigger.

              Keep looking
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


              • Original Poster

                Good thoughts!

                I just REALLY like the location...and the price! Would save a fortune on commuting (cuts out 30 miles a day between hubby and I).

                But I do sound like I'm settling too much don't I?

                I feel this pressure because I believe interest rates are going to keep climbing. But I've waited years, so what is a bit more.
                DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                • #9
                  Here's your answer

                  land and ammenities not up to par for your likes or needs

                  You really oughtn't purchase a place because its close to work and priced well; that's more of a reason to rent.

                  When the right place comes around, and it will, you'll know it. And meanwhile, don't lie to COTH! We can hear you slowing down in front of "for sale by owner" signs, how the gravel crunches under the tires when you come to a stop, how the car door slams so you can walk up to the sign and write down the number. Heck, we can see your beady eyes shifting right and left, left and right, as you tool down the state highway - how they lock on the roof of a barn from a distance, we know you choose to go the rural route rather than by the turnpike so you can scout out places!

                  Because that's what we would do too!
                  Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


                  • #10
                    Just remember, what you're saving in commuting, you'll be spending in hay!
                    Owned by a Paint/TB and an OTTB.
                    RIP Scoutin' For Trouble ~ 2011 at 10
                    RIP Tasha's Last Tango ~ 2010 at ~23
                    RIP In Sha' Allah ~ 2009 too young at 5


                    • Original Poster


                      Originally posted by AnotherRound View Post
                      And meanwhile, don't lie to COTH! We can hear you slowing down in front of "for sale by owner" signs, how the gravel crunches under the tires when you come to a stop, how the car door slams so you can walk up to the sign and write down the number. Heck, we can see your beady eyes shifting right and left, left and right, as you tool down the state highway - how they lock on the roof of a barn from a distance, we know you choose to go the rural route rather than by the turnpike so you can scout out places!

                      Because that's what we would do too!
                      LOL! [[clapping]]
                      DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                      • #12
                        I lived in NE Indiana for 5 years and had three horses on an eight acre field. They had nearly 24/7 access to it (only kept in for the worst winter crud, and then only overnight) and they wrecked most of that ground quite efficiently each winter. Fortunately, it was big enough that plenty of grass came back each spring/summer (they didn't eat anything but pasture for June-October). There's no way I would have gone with less than four acres... the clay in that area doesn't drain well and so the ground is particularly susceptible to the damage of hooves. It also holds a ton of water for a looong time... if you don't want standing swampland, you either have to be really lucky and have great natural contours to the land (which we did) or do a lot of preventive excavating. And of course the clay means DEEP footprints once the ground is soggy, so forget about riding on an outdoor unless you have it engineered with a really excellent (and expensive!) base for good drainage.

                        I had a 50x100' paddock attached to the barn (with a contiguous run out to the field). The first winter, because my ex was concerned about cost, we left it in grass. It wasn't long before it was a complete mud pit (even with the horses just passing through and hanging out there a bit). The next summer, we had it excavated and topped with crusher run and fine gravel.

                        Since you don't really like a lot else about the property, I'd say hold out for something with a lot more room, especially if the land is flat.
                        Patience pays.


                        • #13
                          You did not say how many horses you have.
                          If you have 2 it is not a bad set up.
                          And remember paint covers a multitude of sins..
                          You willl need to cross fence and section off the acres to rotate the pastures. How is the drainage? Is the land prone to flooding?
                          An arena can be made to use comfortably. While 60 X 100 would be good I have used smaller.
                          Sit down and write the pro, and cons of it and discuss it with your signifigant other.
                          Don't settle for something that does not fill your needs.
                          Larger land means higher property taxes.
                          If everything is good but the barn, then it can be replaced. But if the house is in need of major repairs, think twice.


                          • #14
                            Unless you build your own place, nothing will ever be perfect. Don't dismiss the commute issue. It's HUGE. When you have your own place, it's upkeep will suck your time dry. Removing a lengthy commute from the picture for both you and your DH is nothing to sneeze at.

                            That being said, and in response to your question, I would want about 10 acres for 3 horses, particularly if you live in an area with a less than ideal climate. 4 acres for 3 horses will mean no grass...


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by EquineImagined View Post
                              Just remember, what you're saving in commuting, you'll be spending in hay!
                              That may well be....But to truly sustain horses on pasture your talking 5 acres per horse.
                              I have 30 acres and we need round bales all winter and not every spring/summer gives you lovely ideal grass growing weather.

                              I'm not so much a downer on the place without seeing it and the perimeter lay-out.

                              Plan the location of your ring and its size (bigger isn't always better) carefully, we use ours as a T/O in bad weather while we muck to give horses a leg stretch and a buck. They haven't ruined the footing and yes I do have to pick it up afterwards.
                              One of my small sacraficial T/Os has a stone dust base and I use it as a free school/ round pen even though its square. I pick it up and we drag it to keep it level. Plus since its in no climb wire and has a solid lower gate panel we can park the dogs in there if we need them out of the way for short periods.

                              Fence the whole permiter or the whole front and gate driveway. You can always plant Butterfly bushes or Cypress across front for noise block and privacey.

                              Re configuring the stalls while you put in flooring is do able. Maybe small runs off stalls while your doing it so they have 24/7 acess.
                              Nows you chance to get those GFI outlets for water buckets by each stall and the lighting you like best!! A new tackroom with heated floor..so practical and effective for winter work, lots of built in open deep shelves for blankets.

                              Using you pasture space wisely and keeping it picked up and carefully mowed can be very rewarding. In dry weather I have sectioned off and put a sprinkler up so we could move horses to fresh grass and keep it viable..(have a good deep well)
                              Try doing good soild perimeter fencing w/ one strand of Solar electric along top and then doing moveable electric interior fencing so you can save or open up pasture as weather needs require.

                              The money you save on gas n commute time as well as buy price could get you some home renovations or possibly that 1 dreamroom you live in the most. Making buying the less than ideal home more accepting. Of course splurging on some window treatments fresh paint and bedroom linens will help make more welcoming to you personally.

                              They are predicting home prices to keep falling and interest to rise??? so who knows....thre is always a silver lining sometimes you have to dig for it.

                              Bigger property means bigger farm equipment, more fuel and time spent mowing, less time to enjoy your ponies.

                              Our next place will be about 5 acres max and room for 2 horses......


                              • #16
                                I'd almost rather rent and board than own a horse place with too little land.

                                Even after you change the barn, accept the house and enjoy your bank statement and commute....

                                You will spend every day looking at dry lot or mud.

                                You will also spend a fortune (both time and money) on manure removal and reseeding. That will never go away, so you'll know what you'll be doing after you get home from work "early."
                                The armchair saddler
                                Politically Pro-Cat


                                • #17
                                  I will be the odd person out. I have a small ranch house (that I never thought that I would live in), and although we own 5 acres, only 2 are usable (the rest is swamp). We live really close to work and town, which is awesome. I have only one horse here. I could do one or two more. Sometimes, compromising for a shorter commute is worth it. I feed hay. Horse is out 24/7 with access to his barn. Footing is always good, because we hired a contractor with that goal in mind.


                                  • #18
                                    I currently have 40 acres with a highway through the middle, two homes (both older mobiles but very livable) and 22 head of horses plus two that my renter has. NO grass in the fields so feed hay year round....the lack of grass is due to the area (desert) and lack of irrigation rights (costs about $5K per acre to purchase and then you have to have irrigation system/equipment AND pay yearly fee...cheaper to feed hay) but the horses do have lots of room for running/playing. Will be building paddocks this spring (each about 65x100 feet) with one to two horses per paddock....and planting some of the desert areas with dryland pasture mixes that don't need irrigation...will provide SOME grasses for occasional grazing.

                                    My old cutting trainer had 8 acres in central Ore, one 5 acre pasture (irrigated) on which cattle were grazed part time as were horses on occasion. Between his own horses, his landlady's horses in training with him, client horses in training/prep for sales and a few breeding horses he had 40+ head...biggest problem was getting rid of bedding/manure. Had good sized indoor/outdoor arena, large round pen (100 ft diameter), double wide mobile home, hay storage barn, mare motel with pens, 10 or 12 stall barn with tack room/washroom, hot walker. It was very organized!!
                                    Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                                    Northern NV


                                    • #19
                                      My farmette is 5ac total with probably 2 of those for house & lawns.

                                      2 horses do very well on the remaining 3ac that contains the barn w/attached 60X120 indoor & 2 pastures.
                                      Both pastures are accessible through the sacrifice area that surrounds the barn.
                                      Horses are out 24/7 with free access to stalls.

                                      My pastures are not lush, but grow enough grass that I usually have to mow at least twice during the growing season to keep the weeds down & the roughs cut back.

                                      I do feed hay year-round, but considerably less hay in the Summer.
                                      250 50-55# square bales was a year's supply for my 2 horses. Should go farther now that I have one horse & 1 pony.

                                      My house is a characterless raised brick ranch but the interior had possibilities when I looked at it (including an open floorplan for kitchen/LR).
                                      I joined 2 small BR to create a Master Suite. One ofthese BR had a powder room bath - toilet & sink - that I expanded to include a large shower stall by doing away with a small closet.
                                      It is now quite a comfortable place for me.
                                      & I am 10 minutes from work.

                                      If you can make your life easier by doing away with a commute then I'd take a good, hard 2nd look at this place.
                                      *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


                                      • #20
                                        I think that amount would be fine for 2-3 horses if planned correctly. And there is a LOT to be said for a good commute.

                                        Personally I would set it up so that you would have a lovely all-weather area with perfect drainage attached to the barn, that was big enough to ride in -- 100 by 200ish. Then keep it perfectly picked and maintained. Then open the rest into rotatable pastures. Spend good money on the "sacrifice paddock/ring" area to get it really nice -- total crushed stone or sand, with hay feeding confined to one area, preferably covered, so they don't trash the footing with hay pieces. You can shut the other ponies in their stalls and ride any time, which is super-nice. IF you keep hay raked out of the sand, it stays really nice and perfect for a personal use place.

                                        I have a separate small "ring" that was preexisting on my small farm, but if I were building from scratch and watching pennies, that is how I would do it to maximize value and get a 2 for 1 on space. I follow a similar practice near my barn to control mud and it works great to keep the footing good all winter. I'm in northern Indiana so have some of the same weather challenges you would have.

                                        I am a fixer -- I don't mind taking on places that need some work to be what I need, but LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. If the price leaves you some funds to make it what you want and you are handy/like fixing it up, then I would give it some thought. I love a good project.

                                        I got lucky with my current house and love it but my previous one was a box in the city with no charm. Good landscaping and some new paint/redecorating made it totally adorable and we sold it during the worst of the housing crash in a single day. We bought it during the height of the bubble when everything else was selling in one open house with bidding wars, and it had been on the market for months -- it was that charmless before. You can do a lot with boxes! HGTV could be your new best friend!