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Future planning for our little farmette

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  • Future planning for our little farmette

    Hello, all. Hubby and I found the farmette of our dreams in the location of our dreams, and we now have the fun task of planning a small barn, an arena and paddocks. A little background:
    We are located on a small foothill ridge and have 10 acres of tillable land that is currently farmed by our neighbor. the other 10 is where the house, garage/barn and woods are. We plan to turn the tillable area into the horse/farm animal area. My wants are: a 4 stall barn with tack/feed room and wash stall. Sand/all weatherish arena for jumping and dressage.
    the land has some mildly sloped areas that may be suitable for grading and use as the arena/barn area, and then some more moderately sloped areas for the paddock/grazing areas.
    I would like to keep it as simple as possible, and plan on doing extensive research to select the best drained spot for the barn/arena. I'd love for them to be connected, but if that doesn't happen, oh well. I'd rather walk to a well drained area to ride rather than force them together.

    The area where we will be is in SW wisconsin, and there are tons of Amish who routinely build barns, so I am hoping to go this route. Our garage/barn was built by the Amish 25 years ago, and it is still gorgeous.

    Inclement weather/long winters make me think that a small covered/enclosed arena would be helpful for letting horses move and buck a little when it's icy out. Also, it would be nice to be able to handwalk an injured horse inside, although we do have a very long, very flat driveway that could be used for this purpose.

    Okay dreamers, after that novel -- here are the questions...
    1. Selecting the best spot - what do you wish you knew now? Do you just put the arena and barn on the highest area? How close do you go to the house? (hubby seems to want the barn close to the house.
    2. Building a barn - I don't want a big one - I'll just fill it with rescue OTTBs. I have one already, and I suspect they are like Lay's potato chips. Besides. Hubby needs a horse. And a cow. And a goat. What are the basics? Books to read? Websites to surf?
    3. Cost. We're trying to save up as much of this as we can to be able to pay for it in cash if possible. that means lots of ramen. I suspect with our land that grading will be a signficant expense.
    4. This little attached walking area - am i crazy to want this or is this just going to be almost as expensive as building an indoor arena?

    ok- have at it! I would appreciate any and all advice! We're at the ideas stage, so nothing is written in stone except for the farm we own. thanks in advance!

  • #2
    I love posts about barn building, barn ideas, and farm plans! I don't have a barn, so I will just hope people post here so I can learn too.

    My barn will also be on a slope, with (I hope) a lounge area on the downhill side toward the view.
    "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina


    • #3
      Get a copy of "Complete Plans for Building Horse Barns Big and Small" by Nancy Ambrosiano and Mary Harcourt. It's from 1989 but still full of good info and plans for barns from one horse to nine horses. My Husband used it for a reference when he built our 2 horse barn. Keep us posted. Would love to see pictures of your progress.
      Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"


      • #4
        Think out your walking route from your house to your barn, from your barn to your paddock gates, from your barn to your arena, etc. Try and arrange your paddocks around your barn so that horses can be brought in/turned out with a minimum of walking. Even if you don't build it all at the same time, I would consider siting your arena location at the same time as your barn and have a contractor shoot the grades with a laser. Grading can add a LOT of money to your projects.

        Lastly, I think you are wise to keep your barn size modest, but if you are interested in other livestock besides horses I would recommend planning and building at least one shed inside of one of your fields with electric and running water. It can be time consuming to get livestock in and out of a barn, and personally I don't like sharing my horse barn with other livestock.

        Even if you just have a small herd of horses, do more paddocks than you think you will need so you can separate horses and do rotational grazing.


        • #5
          Well, I just went through the entire process, and here is what I ended up doing:

          1) Our barn is very close to the house, which has pros and cons. On the plus side, it is really convenient to get to for chores, and it was cheaper to run the water and electric to from the house. We just ran a conduit in a trench at the same time we were building the house so it was all there when we started the barn. On the other hand, it means that the manure bin is also near the house. I am going to be composting in bins but we'll see how that goes (horses move in next month). Our property is rather small though, so we had very few options of where to put the barn. In the winter I think I will appreciate the proximity as I go out to do night check in a blizzard.

          2) You will end up with as many horses as you have stalls for, or so I have been told. I have 4 stalls and really would not want to be taking care of more than 4 anyway so I am happy with that. As for building design, I did a lot of web surfing and looking at different layouts. I would imagine my daily routine in the various layouts and make some decisions on that basis. I also visited a bunch of local barns and talked to people about what they liked and didn't like about their barns (I live in a horsey area so this was pretty easy to do). After I decided on what I wanted I used an engineer to draw up the plans (a requirement here) - he has done many barns and has his own horses so was able to make some good suggestions.

          3) It can cost a fortune, depending on how you do it. For example, here are some options I chose to put in which were not essential and really added to the cost: (1) I have steel framed dutch doors on all stall exteriors, and double dutch doors at the 2 aisle ends. (2) My tack room has a stair case up to the hay loft. (3) I have some nice conveniences in my stall fronts, like feed doors. (4) I have a deep, poured foundation (which I would recommend doing). (5) I have a 48' concrete aisle, with inset rubber mats down the center. (6) I have a hay loft (no space for a separate hay shed). (7) I have 12' overhangs off both sides of the barn. (8) Wash stall with puck board walls.
          So...you could definitely bring down the cost by figuring out what you need and don't need. Since I will be doing all the daily barn work myself, and because the property with the house will be very valuable, I am putting in these details. Honestly I don't think you could build a decent barn under $60k in a cold climate, but maybe the Amish are a different story. My barn will cost significantly more than that.

          Don't forget you have to pay for fencing too and that can get pricey. Footing can get expensive too. I am on sandy, well-draining soil and I still am bringing in 10 loads of sand this week. Each load is $180 cash, and that's the contractor rate, from a local quarry nearby. I don't mean to scare you with the prices (and they could be very different there...I am in Canada), but just be aware of all of the various costs. I would figure out what your budget is and make your choices based on that.

          Before you start check in with the town to find out what all the local restrictions, set backs, etc. are. Those can dictate where you put what.
          Last edited by Spooks; Nov. 7, 2012, 06:33 PM. Reason: typos


          • #6
            The best advice I got was something I would not have expected... make sure you leave lots of room for vet and farrier trucks, but also large vehicles with looooong trailers. Wide gates, gentle turns, somewhere to turn around, or a big loop. Hay trucks, flatbed trailers, dump trucks for sand, big horse trailers, etc. Be generous and plan access that won't tear up your land.

            Also, don't forget storage space. Lots. For your hay, your shiny new tractor, harrow for the arena, manure spreader, etc. My 3-stall barn came with a big attached storage barn with in/out pull-through garage doors so that I can actually park my 2H horse trailer INSIDE, without having to back in, which is really a luxury, but boy do I love it. The storage barn is so big that I rent the other half of the garage out for my vet to store his boat (I get free vet care!) and there's still enough room for my husband's woodworking tools.
            where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?


            • #7
              Yes! Very wise advice. Don't forget plenty of space for parking.

              And no, you won't end up with as many horses as you have stalls for, the correct formula is: number of stalls + 2 = number of horses. Another reason to build a nice big shed.


              • #8
                I am very jealous! We bought an existing farm and there are so many things I would have done differently!

                My barn is close to the house which I like but it sits at the bottom of a slope. So all the water run off goes straight to the barn! It is not a problem except when there is a really heavy rain and then the stalls flood a little.

                I have a shedrow barn and the barn faces away from the house. I wish there were windows in the back so I could see them easier.

                Make sure you get footing for the heavy use areas. We have been on our farm for 9 years and are just now doing and have to work around fencing, barn, horses etc...

                I also wish the vets, farrier and hay trucks could get down to my barn. The way they situated the property, there is no way to drive down there. It is a bit frustrating. The horses are shod on my driveway which means I have to cancel when the weather is bad.

                Good Luck! Please post pictures! I am sure there will be moments of frustration but also tons of fun!!!


                • #9
                  Things I take into account:
                  1.) Prevalent winds - summer and winter. What that does to temp inside barn.
                  2.) Pasture vs barn - access. Current barn I open stall door and horses are in pasture. So when I go out of town there is no worry that horse could "get loose" from handler and find it's way onto the road. Also access for vet/farrier to get close to the barn (rather than having to walk he horse out to their truck or carry stuff from their truck a long distance into the barn (especially in vet emergencies).
                  3.) Hay, Truck/Trailer, Manure storage
                  4.) Fencing. Perimeter to keep out dogs, coyotes, etc - and keep in your critters. Rocky areas can drive up cost of driving in posts.
                  5.) Gate(s). I like to have at least 2 closed opening between horses and road (at all times) for safety. Road gate automatically closes after 10 seconds, so you don't have to worry that non-horsey people nwill inadvertantly leave the gate open.
                  6.) Safe parking for vehicles. My horses like to take their teeth to car hoods - an expensive proposition - so I have a gat between horses and vehicles.
                  7.) Shade for house,barn,pasture. Great for summer buy could make it cold in winter. You therefore want to take sun angles, wind directions and shde into account when designing the location of your house and barn.
                  8.) Fire safety. Better to have hay in a barn other then the horse barn - and a way to transport hay between barns (especially in winter), with small storage are inside horse barn for winter when you might not want to get hay from hay barn every day. Look at trees vs. structures in regards to fire and wind damage.
                  9.) I have feed under the counter and use wheeled platforms to pull the metal garbage cans out from under the counter. Saves space, easy for huma to get to feed and, if something weird happened, I have the barn door, tack room door and finally the under counter doors (plus trash can lids) as buffers between the horses and the feed.
                  10.) Feed room close to outside door so you don't have to carry 50 lb feed bags a long distance inside the barn.
                  11.) Water lines. I don't like automatic waterers so I use buckets, but you want water lines close to stalls and wash rack.

                  Run electric and water lines (if from house) in easily found (think 10 years from now) preferable straight lines so you don't inadvertantly dig into such a line (costly and potentially dangerous).
                  Now in Kentucky


                  • #10
                    Yes, definitely think carefully about vehicle access, especially the larger ones like truck+trailer, and hay delivery. If I had had the space I would have done a circle drive in front of the barn so everyone could pull through easily and not have to back in or turn around. As it is, I have to either back in (or out), or if space permits I can do a 3-point turn in front of and then alongside the barn.

                    One of the overhangs along the side of my barn is actually for trailer parking, which I wanted so the trailer would not get snowed under in the winter. I don't have a tow vehicle yet but it will likely live outside next to the trailer. For my (yet to be purchased) small tractor, we build a 2.5 car garage and put a little garage door for the tractor so I can park it inside. If I didn't have the luxury of planning all this from scratch I would definitely look at a separate shed for all of this stuff.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sarafina View Post
                      1. Selecting the best spot - what do you wish you knew now? Do you just put the arena and barn on the highest area? How close do you go to the house? (hubby seems to want the barn close to the house.
                      You either put the barn on the highest area or you build it up. If you don't, water WILL end up in it if you don't do extensive ($$) grading to direct water around it. So, just make it easier and build on high ground

                      how close the barn can be, and in what relation to the house is highly dependent on local ordinances. Here, without Farm status, barns cannot be built in front of the house, which really limited our choice of locations of the barn (to basically a low spot on the property )

                      You really want the barn downwind of the house as well. You can really minimize the smell by proper management, but sometimes it just smells like a barn, and you don't want that for your air freshener

                      2. Building a barn - I don't want a big one - I'll just fill it with rescue OTTBs. I have one already, and I suspect they are like Lay's potato chips. Besides. Hubby needs a horse. And a cow. And a goat. What are the basics? Books to read? Websites to surf?
                      There are tons of threads here on "what do you like/dislike about your barn" Mine is very basic - 36x36, center aisle, 3 stalls on one side, 1 stall, wash rack, and tack/feed room on the other side, 12x12 stalls, 12' aisle. All stalls open to the outside as well as inside, barn is enclosed in perimeter fencing and can also be closed off from the rest of the pasture. That makes bringing in/turn out very, very simple when it needs to be.

                      3. Cost. We're trying to save up as much of this as we can to be able to pay for it in cash if possible. that means lots of ramen. I suspect with our land that grading will be a signficant expense.
                      Cost varies wildly. Keeping costs down on the barn means a pole barn, no foundation to pour, and finishing the inside when you can as you have the funds

                      4. This little attached walking area - am i crazy to want this or is this just going to be almost as expensive as building an indoor arena?
                      I missed what this is, but any time you grade land, put good footing down, cover it, etc, it adds cost. You can lay things out such that you can do basics now and add when you have time and $$. If you end up with the barn and ring at a distance, traveling over footing that will soon become a mucky mess in the Winter, and you want that to be a nice lane at some point, then you lay down some basics to start and finish it later.

                      ok- have at it! I would appreciate any and all advice! We're at the ideas stage, so nothing is written in stone except for the farm we own. thanks in advance!
                      Visit the property during and after a hard rain - you really, really want to see where water flows and where it stagnates. Go on a windy day and see where the wind comes from.

                      You can never have enough gates. Plan for easy access gates for bigger trucks onto your property - necessary to get all these things built. Put a gate - at least a walk-through people gate - between your most common routes, ie house to barn. 8' gates for your vehicles at a minimum, and that's a tight fit when I have to take my F250 through. I have a 16' gate for the barn entrance, which is where my trailer goes in and out of, and a 10' gate directly across the driveway from that, so really, any size vehicle can get into my pasture if needed.
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                      • #12
                        Have you been to your USDA office for maps of your place?
                        Those maps are great to get ideas from and they may even tell you if you qualify for cost share for any programs, like to develop water or put in fences, etc.
                        Just be careful you are sure you know what the whole program is, don't sign anything without reading every little letter in the contracts.

                        Go ask your fire department to come by to give you some pointers about where to build, how close to each you want the structures, what would be the best way to access them, where to put the driveway and barn entrance and all that.

                        Here they recommend houses and barns are at least 100' apart.
                        Ours are 140'.
                        Also 100' from the well.


                        • Original Poster

                          Wow, thanks guys~ I am overwhelmed by the wealth of excellent information and advice - definitely stuff I would not have thought of. We are up here right now (we don't currently live here full time) and met with our farmer, who provided a lot of great advice and recommendations. He told us where he thought the best hayfield would be, and said he would disc and plant the fields for us in a nice mix when we settle permanently. (for now we let him farm the 10 acres for corn and oats for his cows for free)

                          Happily, our driveway is long and straight with a circle drive at the end where the house and the existing barn are (existing barn is a nice slab with a workshop and space for 3 cars - there is a large hayloft where I will store hay) Trucks such as oil trucks and a giant furniture delivery semi have been able to access it easily. We will have to grade a lot for the house addition, and the farmer recommended to fill some spots to save on grading. He also commented that areas of our property pool, and there are good growing spots and fair growing spots. He agreed with my idea to put 3 paddocks - one for hay, and two for rotational grazing.

                          I walked the land yesterday and thought about where I would place the barn and the arena. It looked like it would drain naturally fairly well. I wanted to take pictures, but the rain prevented anything good. I will post pictures ASAP.

                          Again, so many thanks for such great info!