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Farm Maintenance: West Coast vs East Coast

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  • Farm Maintenance: West Coast vs East Coast

    Read with interst the replies on the thread on going back to boarding after having your own place. I've boarded, had my own farm on the East Coast, currently boarding in SoCal.

    DH and I starting to shop for horse property in San Diego county. Probably no more than 5 acres, I'd have no more than 5 horses.

    I previously had 9 acres in SE PA with between 4-6 horses at any one time. Endless mowing, weeding, etc. I have a very clear picture of the amount of maintenance involved in a farm on the East Coast.

    I do not have a clear picture of the maintenance of a farm on the West Coast (and specifically SoCal). My general impression is that it is far less because there is a lot less mowing.

    Obviously there are things that will be the same no matter where- dragging ring, fence maintenance, manure management.

    Can anyone who has done both comment?
    ~Living the life I imagined~

  • #2
    San Diego is Southern CA, so the answer will be different than the one I would give you for Northern CA. Most of this info comes from DH, who lived in Santee, and is old but is still relevant.

    Mowing not an issue, you do it once maybe twice, blanketing not an issue, frozen water not an issue, soil is sandy generally so mud up to your knees isn't a real problem and their feet tend to wear if they are barefoot. You should oil hooves, there are more drying issues.

    On the flip side you must buy hay, always. The grass is only green for two three weeks or you have to irrigate like crazy. The rainy season is Fall or early winter, period. No mosquito borne diseases (although that could have changed) so no heartworm for the dog and no Coggins necessary.

    Shade is a must!

    Dust control all over your property.

    Santa Ana winds (strong, HOT winds) and preparation for wildfires should be considered and a plan should be made to keep your place as safe as you can or get the H out with a good evacuation route(s).

    There's fire season and mudslide season, as opposed to freeze and sweat.

    It used to be a really nice place to keep and ride horses, nowadays it might be pretty built up, but if your place is nice enough the climate is nice and it's easier, DH says, to deal with heat problems than frozen problems.

    Wells, water, zoning and regulations will become your real issues. Check before buying! For real. See if you are allowed to do what you want to do before you buy it and somebody comes out and tells you NO. CA can be really bad that way.
    And good luck!
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible

    Comment


    • #3
      You will spend an amazing amount of time, money and effort on managing manure.

      I wouldn't keep 5 horses on 5 acres anywhere. I have lived on both Coasts.
      The armchair saddler
      Politically Pro-Cat

      Comment


      • #4
        Considering there isn't much green pasture in so cal, you wouldn't have to do as much mowing. Weed control is huge (because of the fire danger). You really have to make a decision if you want to try and maintain a grass pasture ($$$$ for water) or continue to weed control (time).

        As for manure removal, as long as you verify that you can get a dumpster, it really isn't a problem.

        Where in San Diego are you looking? San Diego county has so many micro climates that it could make a huge difference in the maintenance.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Wanted to bump this up as we start to think about looking at properties. We are looking at North County- Fallbrook, Bonsall, San Marcos, Escondido, Olivenheim, RSF, Encinitas.


          Fire control, dust control- great points.

          Appreciate the input so far.
          ~Living the life I imagined~

          Comment


          • #6
            Hey 101 - look up Professional Equine Grooms, either google for website or find them on FB. Liv has managed several pro farms in that area and can tell you everything you need to know. If you're up for it, meet her at Stone Brewery in Escondido, bribe her with good food and Avery White Rascal. She knows a ton about the area and how to manage farms there.

            Comment


            • #7
              ReSomething pretty much nailed it. There is often less work to keeping a small farm in on the West Coast as there only two real "seasons", Fire and Flood. So long as you are in area that is not mostly adobe clay (nor.cal) your footing will hold up. As far as keeping down the dry weeds which are a fire hazard, get some goats. Seriously they are one of the best fire control investments you can make.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks everyone!

                53- Being closer to Stone is a huge "plus" in our checklist, considering we go there about once a month now from San Clemente! We don't like our growlers to stay empty for too long.. Thanks for the reference, I will contact her as we move further down this path. Hope you are doing well in MD; I lived in Carroll County my whole younger life (age 4-18)
                ~Living the life I imagined~

                Comment


                • #9
                  We have 4 acres with 3 horses and 1 Mini who have full access 24/7 to pasture. And I should say "pasture" in quotes, because of course, there is only grass in the spring and even that is "entertainment grass"

                  I don't do ANY weed management AT ALL because my horses are out on the pastures 24/7. (however I do have to weed like crazy around the house and front/backyard

                  Being in CA you ALWAYS feed hay twice/day - no matter what. So to me, that isn't a big deal (we just toss ours in the stall-shelters we built - takes less than 1 minute)

                  I LOVE IT!!!! The way our set up is, it is super super low maintenance. We have a homemade "arena" which is just the native soil at the top, flat part of the pasture that we leveled, and I if I have to pick up manure near the stall shelters, I toss it in there, so it gets dragged into the arena "footing" to make it less clay, and more organic.

                  The rest of the pasture we just drag the manure piles.


                  What East Coast folks may not remember is that with the HOT DRY CLIMATE, you can drag your "dry lot pastures" if they are big enough, and not worry about manure disposal. We don't have the moist environment to promote worms, etc.

                  The other thing I do though, is use Fly Predators religeously

                  Good luck! I think 5 on 5 acres, you may need to manage manure more than we do. But just compost it or hopefully you have mostly pasture and you can drag it out there?

                  Here are some pics, we are in South Santa Clara County:
                  Front pasture

                  Another view of the front pasture

                  The sacrifice paddock with stall shelters - it opens up to the large rear pasture and the smaller front pasture

                  And some shots of the arena which is simply at the top/flattest part of our large rear pasture - you can see why I constantly add "organic stuff" to create footing. I need it!

                  More of the arena
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                  Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
                  www.elainehickman.com
                  **Morgans Do It All**

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I could comment since I've been on both coasts, but the left coast I'm on is WET as opposed to dry, so not really applicable. I do find that hay is a must, maybe even year round, but on a whole I think this coast is easier. Maybe not cheaper, unless you have a good hay source, but work load is lighter IME.
                    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Fancy That View Post
                      . . .
                      manure . . . gets dragged into the arena "footing" to make it less clay, and more organic.
                      . . .
                      OK, how long have you been doing that and how is it working for you?

                      My memory of Adobe (natural NorCal footing in some spots) was that if you wanted to make a nice brick you took manure and straw and the native clay soil and stomped it all together and then shoveled into forms and let it bake in the sun. They built all the missions out of it. Granted they would melt in the rain without big eaves and re mudding every spring.

                      My trainer bailed out of one place because of the Adobe soil footing, she claimed her horses were going lame left and right.

                      So are you pretty much continously adding manure and deeply dragging your arena to prevent it setting up?
                      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                      Incredible Invisible

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My pasture arena....

                        RS - well, we've only had the place 2 years so I haven't been doing it long.

                        We do have that native clay soil, so in the winter, if it's been super wet (which - BTW, we haven't had ONE DROP of RAIN all "winter yet").....I don't ride in it.

                        But as you can see - I literally hardly have any "footing". I just drag it once/week and am constantly picking out rocks.

                        I don't ride very often and I don't worry too much about perfect footing....that said.....I REALLY REALLY want to add sand to it.

                        But for now, since it is part of the pasture and not a "real arena", it is fine for the schooling I do. If I were riding 5 days a week and riding SERIOUSLY for upper-level competition, it would be another story. But I'm not

                        My friend in Fresno, who does seriously event, has been putting ALL of her manure and shavings....anyting organic into her similar outdoor arena in the pasture....and she has nice deep footing!!! But she, too, won't ride in it if it's been super wet/rainy.

                        In CA we can get away with this, since it never rains

                        Originally posted by ReSomething View Post
                        OK, how long have you been doing that and how is it working for you?

                        My memory of Adobe (natural NorCal footing in some spots) was that if you wanted to make a nice brick you took manure and straw and the native clay soil and stomped it all together and then shoveled into forms and let it bake in the sun. They built all the missions out of it. Granted they would melt in the rain without big eaves and re mudding every spring.

                        My trainer bailed out of one place because of the Adobe soil footing, she claimed her horses were going lame left and right.

                        So are you pretty much continously adding manure and deeply dragging your arena to prevent it setting up?
                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                        Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
                        www.elainehickman.com
                        **Morgans Do It All**

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Fancy That View Post

                          . . .
                          In CA we can get away with this, since it never rains
                          That's SoCal.

                          NorCal it rains all right, just you wait and see. Fire and Flood.
                          Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                          Incredible Invisible

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ReSomething View Post
                            That's SoCal.

                            NorCal it rains all right, just you wait and see. Fire and Flood.
                            Are you serious??? What do you mean, "You just wait and see"

                            I've lived here for over 30 years. It HARDLY rains here. Only a few months in late winter/into spring. (when I said "it never rains "...that was a slight exaggeration, obviously)

                            I consider that a pretty darn dry climate. We do NOT have any flooding here or in any other part of the Bay Area that I have lived in. (Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Altos, Woodside, Portola Valley, San Jose, Milpitas, Los Gatos)

                            Fire hazards - yes.

                            Not sure what you mean. We currently live in Gilroy, the southern-most part of Santa Clara County. It is a DRY CLIMATE, save for a few months in late winter/spring.
                            Last edited by Fancy That; Jan. 7, 2012, 02:39 PM.
                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                            Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
                            www.elainehickman.com
                            **Morgans Do It All**

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Fancy That View Post
                              Are you serious??? What do you mean, "You just wait and see"

                              I've lived here for over 30 years. It HARDLY rains here. Only a few months in late winter/into spring. (when I said "it never rains "...that was a slight exaggeration, obviously)

                              I consider that a pretty darn dry climate. We do NOT have any flooding here or in any other part of the Bay Area that I have lived in. (Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Altos, Woodside, Portola Valley, San Jose, Milpitas, Los Gatos)

                              Fire hazards - yes.

                              Not sure what you mean. We currently live in Gilroy, the southern-most part of Santa Clara County. It is a DRY CLIMATE, save for a few months in late winter/spring.
                              I think it's in reference to the biblical rains that can come and last for months. Im origionally from Sonoma/Petaluma/Marin area. Oh yes it can rain, and rain and rain and rain and rain. Ive seen 30 straight days of rain with only brief breaks of an hour or two in the day. The rain and dry cycle of Nor Cal is just that, a cycle. Dry all summer, no rain. Not a single drop, dry as a bone. Then the rain comes and you smell it coming from miles away. We all wait and hold out breaths, please RAIN! Then BAMM, rain and lots of it! Often lasting for days or weeks. Goes like that though much of "winter" , when the grass comes! All the soil goes from dry hard cracked clay to wet slippery boot sucking shoe losing adobe. I still prefer it over New England weather though, I LOVE 60 degree winter days and "chilly" 40 degree nights, lols.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Fancy That lives where there's hardly ever any rain. Between where she is and Marin and north there is a HUGE difference in rain. I live inbetween there. We don't have the issues of manure and clay becoming adobe. 10 or 20 miles can make a drastic difference in soil types, climate, and rainfall in general.

                                I've had one fire, never a flood.

                                In N. CA there is such a drastic difference from place to place depending on whether you live on the actual coast, between the coastal hills and bay hills, whether you're on the bay, or the next valley in, or the central valley, and north to south can vary from 80 inches of rain annually (pretty much only maybe Nov. to May) to 10. Where Fancy That lives it's light tan. Marin and north is dark blue:
                                http://www.eldoradocountyweather.com...ualprecip.html

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Thanks for further clarifying, BTDT. I'm no weather expert but I've lived here my whole life and have had horses here for 30 years.

                                  I live in the SOUTH BAY, folks. Gilroy (border of San Martin) But again- even when I was in San Jose, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Altos, Palo Alto....etc.....never did I have "BIBLICAL FLOODING"

                                  Yes, it rains in the "winter" - but seriously, we hardly have what I'd call "weather" compared to the rest of the country. Our rain season is sooo short.

                                  People make is sound like I haven't been living here for 30 plus years. I know what the weather is like Silly......
                                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                  Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
                                  www.elainehickman.com
                                  **Morgans Do It All**

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Here are a few items that I think we in the West are credited with, or are more prevalent here -

                                    * No snow (in your/our climate) to weigh on structures
                                    * Pipe corrals abound
                                    * Slow dryrot of wood items
                                    * Oleander to watch out for
                                    * Sand colic more likely
                                    * Rendering plant pickup rather than on-prop burial
                                    * Subterranean termites, no wood to ground

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Thats funny, I am in the same boat as the OP. I am from Ohio and moved to SoCal. What I wouldnt do to have the burden of mowing grass, in exchange for having to buy $20 bales of hay! Love the weather here, but miss the simplicity of home!
                                      Horses For Sale - Equispot Free Horse Classifieds

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                                      • #20
                                        Well, OP, I am not going to argue with Fancy That, since it's kind of a moot point in San Diego area, but since Clark County in NV, site of Las Vegas gets about 4.4 inches of rainfall annually and still reports damage from flooding with lives lost I would advise you check out your place with an eye to drainage and whether you have a wash that might potentially carry a flash flood.
                                        My FIL's place in LA county backs up to a dry riverbed that is pretty darn big and has been reinforced by folks dumping their concrete debris and paving debris on the riverbanks to keep their properties from washing away. The day that thing fills up he is in big trouble.

                                        ETA erosion control is a maintenance issue, without the grass cover you'll get sediment running off and it makes it hard to grow any grass at all, can create gullies, wash out fence posts etc., create fine soil areas that turn into dust very fast.
                                        Last edited by ReSomething; Jan. 11, 2012, 11:34 AM.
                                        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                                        Incredible Invisible

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