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Daydreaming: How to turn new property into horse property?

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  • Daydreaming: How to turn new property into horse property?

    From my other minimal acreage post, some of you may have figured DH and I are considering new digs. We have started the official process and have found a great new home with usable land. I won't get into the nitty gritty, except to say that we are not in a contract with this new real estate.

    But a girl can dream, right?

    The house needs basically nothing except furniture since it's 3x the size of our current one. There is a huge barn on the property that does need some work. It's structurally a beast, built 19th century with beams 1.5' in diameter in places. The roof is OK for now on the main part, a small old milking parlor will need attention soon on it's roof. The exterior walls are stable, but not completely air tight. Half of the floor is dirt, other has concrete. There is a partial hayloft, I haven't personally seen (DH crawled up there), that is usable as well. The entire property is just under 14 acres, with ~3-4 used for the house, yard and barn. The rest would need some clearing (mostly brush and brambles, not heavily wooded) for pasture, but very DIY friendly. A creek runs through the acreage into a small pond on the far corner away from the house and barn. Surrounded by crop fields on 2 sides, as it's a corner lot on veeery quiet roads.

    So, ideally I'd like to get the pasture areas cleared and fenced within the next year(would be willing to stretch to 2, but I said ideally). Depending on how I get the land "organized," I would start with just a basic run-in shed for the horses, either free standing or using part of the existing barn (the wall facing the "pasture area" is the west wall, not ideal to have open). Eventually build stalls in the barn, that'd be part of the "5 year plan." The pastures would be pretty secluded from the road by the house, barn and treeline that runs along the roads, so I'm thinking an electrobraid or tape type fencing would be fine as I wouldn't need a strong visual barrier type of fencing. There is a water hydrant in the barn and evidence of electricity, we can get that up and running ourselves.

    We would need an actual tractor of sorts. We have a JD 400 currently with 2 PTOs and a 60"deck, but it seems like it would be overkill for the yard and not enough for the farm aspects. I don't even know where to begin with tractor sizes, models, age... It looks like a decent riding mower may be able to come with the place so the yard would be taken care of.

    I know I'd need to find a hay and grain supplier and places to store them. Not crazy about using the hayloft for it's intended purpose and I know insurance hates them. The milking parlor would become my tackroom, as it has a cement floor and is lockable. We have lots of Amish farms around here, so we'd have access to their services for residing the barn(5 -10 year plan), as well as other building projects.

    What would you do with this property?

  • #2
    My advice is not about specifics. It is about the process.

    I have been on my farm for 8 years now. There was nothing but very small house, a tobacco barn and some goat fencing.

    I made a huge master plan.

    Then we began implementing it. And because the plan was so huge and all incompassing, I was never able to be satisfied with anything we had gotten done. I am talking adding 1100 sq feet into the house, miles of fence, a new barn, landscaping...

    Until one day I was at the farm my old working student now manages. It is about 25 years old, started from scratch by folks with a bit more money than I have who raised two kids during their process and whatnot. Great people, the place is lovely (understatement).

    They were building stone gate posts. She mentioned to me that it had taken her 25 years to finally get to this stage, and it was something she had envisioned from day one. But there was always something else that needed to be done first. She sighed.

    And I suddenly had perspective! 25 years later! Ok! I went home, looked around and was really pleased, made a drink, walked around and enjoyed my beautiful farm. Now I look at the list with a kinder eye and look forward to each thing rather than rushing through it, waiting for it to be done to enjoy it.

    So thats my advice. Enjoy the process. Enjoy your farm now. Have fun!
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


    • #3
      I love EqTrainer's post!

      I got some great advice when we were buying our (much smaller) property from this board. The master plan and figure out where you want everything before you start on anything aspect was the single best piece of advice I was given. There's a 6 stall barn with runs off the stalls, and we just made a new run so there are 4 runs with the 4 horses. We have plans for how to make new runs if we want in the future as well, but for now two 2 acre runs and two smaller runs works for the horses we have. There's a path around the outside of the runs which I hope will become a track I can ride in 2013. The arena is as big as we were able to make it with room for a round pen near it. We have parking outside the arena fence for cars if we have an event/clinic here and horse trailer parking inside the fence.

      I can easily see having projects to do for another 25 years, too, though!
      If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


      • #4
        The first thing I would want to get started on, assuming the time of year was right, would be to clear/till/test the soil/seed the pasture areas. That might give them some time to establish before you're wanting places to put horses. Put a run-in somewhere on high ground, then make a perimeter fence. You can section off later as you see fit. Spend time figuring out the lay of the land, decide if the barn is in a prime location, do you have adequate turnaround for trucks/trailers, parking, etc. It sounds like a decent enough place, good luck!


        • #5
          ET's post was perfect. Lay out everything you want, then break things down into needs, then prioritize that needs list.

          Fencing is obviously a need. But, do you NEED to fence it all off? Or can you fence off part now and finish later? If the latter, maybe you can do the permanent fencing for the partial perimeter, then use temp fencing for the last piece. That way, when you finish the perimeter fencing, you aren't stuck with a cross section that you might not want, or don't really want in that spot. I put up all my perimeter fencing first, not really knowing how or if I'd want to break it into separate pastures. 8 years later, the only permanent sectioning off I've done is around the barn (which was in the perimeter fencing to begin with). I've had various temp sections up as needs arose.

          I'd highly recommend looking at Horseguard fencing. It's such a better quality electric tape than most anything else out here. It's pretty economical, very safe (of course nothing is 100%), and so, so easy to maintain.

          I would not in a million years get rid of the tractor you have Yes, overkill for the yard, but that's what riding mowers or small tractors are for A good small tractor can do double duty with the hard and smaller farm chores.

          If the barn is laid out such that you can fairly easily put up an attached lean-to, even if it's just a roof and a few poles, you can block that off from horse access and use it for hay storage if you do it right.

          Grain and all feedstuffs like that would be best stored in the barn where it can be on a raised floor in a locked room. So, one of the first things you'd maybe do is figure out how you want the barn laid out in the end, so you can figure out where the feed room will be, and just get that built.
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


          • #6
            Originally posted by JB View Post
            I would not in a million years get rid of the tractor you have Yes, overkill for the yard, but that's what riding mowers or small tractors are for A good small tractor can do double duty with the hard and smaller farm chores.
            Can I second this, like a million times?
            60" mower deck is totally NOT overkill for the yard - and depending on how big your pastures are going to be, could be just fine for the pasture mowing. If you've got lots of brush, you'll probably want a bushhog, but I spent the first year my place was planted using my belly mower to keep the pastures under control (planted the pastures one fall, and got the fence up the next fall).
            I'm really thrilled with my little Kubota (BX 2660), and it's really about all I need, tractor-wise, to handle basic jobs around the place. I'm not doing any heavy duty stuff, though - a nice drag harrow and a front end loader are next on the wish list!

            You've gotten some excellent advice, but one thing I would add would be to live with the property as long as you can BEFORE you start building/fencing, etc. It took me about 3 years to get the barn and fence up after I closed, but it was well worth it - because by that time, I KNEW what the place was like in all seasons - how the winds blow across it, where water stacks up if we get lots of snow or rain, etc. That made it much easier to decide where to site/orient the barn and pastures and dog yards!


            • #7
              I missed 60" - if you've really got 3-4 acres of house land, meaning I assume mostly hard, then you WILL be happy for a 60" deck.

              We have a 5' finish mower for the tractor (came with it, not complaining, not replacing until it flat out dies) and it still takes me about 4 hours to mow 8-ish acres.

              The faster you can get mowing done, the more time you have to do the REAL work. And fun
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


              • #8
                ET is totally right-I need the main idea of that post embroidered on a pillow that I sleep on so it will seep into my head overnight...

                I am impatient; DH is infinitely patient when it comes to projects. A bad combination sometimes.

                Anyway-we made a horse property out of a flat empty ten acres. We perimeter-fenced it before we moved the horses out, one big square pasture for all. Brought the tack shed with us, built the hitching rail before we even had a yard. We went in order of importance and were just getting started on the fun decorative nice sorta stuff when we moved away.

                and started all over with another place...
                “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


                • #9
                  A couple of things -- I can't tell from the OP whether this advice applies or not --
                  One, you may not need to till/reseed etc. If you just mow diligently for a year or two that may be just fine for ending up with nice grassy pastures. And two, can you make the barn a run-in? Is there a way to leave a wide door open, and use a section of the barn? Later on you can put a run-in out in the fields and build stalls.
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                  • #10
                    Tractor with a front end loader capable of lifting at least 2,200 pounds. Lots of good things come on pallets that weigh a ton or more

                    That would put you in the 50 +/- horsepower range. I have never heard anyone utter the words "I wish I had bought a smaller tractor".


                    • #11
                      You can never have too much tractor, and we too, use our 60" belly mower for the whole shebang....yard around the house and pastures. We only have a 22hp New Holland compact tractor, and it's just adequate for our 5 acres. We bought the tractor and it came with the belly mower first, then bought a bush hog because are pastures were brushy at first. Then got a tiller so we could reseed the pastures. Then sold the bush hog because they are grassy now and can be cut with the belly mower. Then got a blade to plow the snow off our 200ft long driveway. Then I made a homemade drag for the arena we just put in. That was the evolution of the tractor over the last 5 years.

                      The property was just 5 bare acres when we got it, mostly cleared except for 2 "islands" of oak trees right smack dab in the middle, which I thought I may tear down eventually, but have since decided to keep because the horses love them for shade from the flies, and to walk under the low branches to brush off the horse flies. So first we built the house, got settled in that for a year and a half. Then decided I couldn't wait and started horse shopping. So we fenced off 2 acres of pasture and put up a temporary canvas run-in shed and used a very long hose from the house for water. Lived with that setup for one winter, and it was miserable for me and the horse and started nagging hubby for a barn in spring. 6 months later in August we started putting up the barn and 3 stalls but it took 5 months and into the next winter before it was complete and usable. At least I now had water & electric to the barn, but no lights--just outlets. I plugged in a shop light when I needed it. That spring we put in overhead lights and 2 floodlights on the ends of the barn that we turn on from the house so there's a lit path to walk to the barn, and one behind the barn to walk the horse to the back pasture. At that point I realized how destroyed the front 2 acres had become and decided I needed to fence off the back 2 so I could start rotating. So we did that the next year.

                      Then the following year we added a tack room and shavings compartment to the barn and ran a water line and installed a spicket in the back pasture so I didn't have to manage hoses during the winter.

                      This last summer (it has now been 5 years since we started the horse part of this endeavor), we finally put in my outdoor all-weather arena! And ran an electric line and outlet to the back pasture so I can plug in a tank heater and not have to deal with 200ft of extension cords always tripping the GFI and getting trampled on all winter.

                      Future project (within the next week) we are putting floodlights on the side of the barn facing the arena so I can ride after work when it's dark.

                      And now I feel like it's just about DONE--but I'm sure it's not. It will probably be a work in progress forever....but it's SOOOO rewarding!