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Planning to buy our first farm - what do you wish you knew? Update#48 Still looking..

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  • Planning to buy our first farm - what do you wish you knew? Update#48 Still looking..

    We're boarding 3 horses, and are seriously looking at buying our own place. We've "accumulated" these three over the last two years and I think we're pretty hands-on and realistic about the care involved. My husband is very handy and can drive/operate just about anything. My daughter, who really likes the social aspect of the boarding barn, has informed me that we don't know enough to look after the horses ourselves (she's 13 and points out a lot of things I don't know enough about )

    So, how much is enough to know before you take the plunge? What do you wish you knew more about?
    Last edited by cada931; Dec. 14, 2012, 07:47 PM. Reason: Title
    http://essas-storm.blogspot.ca/ An OTTB rescue/project found me!

  • #2
    I don't know jack about living in the country, I admit it freely. I've even got a blog about how bad I am at it. Everyone said "don't do it, you know you're a moron!" I did it anyway because, like you, I'd accumulated 3 horses over the years and thought I was pretty realistic about the care involved. Ha! Good one. Every single day some perplexing problem or unsolvable conundrum or grievous catastrophe befalls me. Wild hogs in the paddock, donkeys in the pool, herd-bound horses with life-threatening anxiety attacks, tractor crashes, hay shortages, ghastly injuries, droughts, septic blow-outs -- I'm picking up the skills as I go along, the main skill being knowing which repair man, ambulance, horse trainer, vet, sheriff, psychiatrist, or fence guy to call whenever it all totally goes south.

    I am surprised every morning when I wake up and the house hasn't fallen into a sinkhole and the horses haven't been eaten by tigers.

    It's pretty fun, though.
    Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life

    Comment


    • #3
      Money wise, it ends up being about equal for me to keep the horses at home vs. boarding at a show barn. By the time you include mortgage for acreage vs non-acreage+boarding, it pretty much evens out. Not to mention all the "extras" that come along with acreage (machinery, time/effort involved in all those things you take for granted like manure management!). And you lose all the "extras" with a boarding facility- arenas, social aspect, etc. But you lose the "commute" to the barn (if yours is substantial, like mine was), and gain the awesomeness of having your horses at home, in your care. I could go on and on about the pros/cons.

      But, money wise, for me, so far it's been pretty even. I knew before, but now I know firsthand how boarding barns do not make money on boarders.

      For what you should know, it depends on the property you purchase. For me, I had to learn a whole lot about fencing, as I had to replace a large majority of it right off the bat. Most of the other things I'm learning as I go.

      As for what I wish I knew... for me, so far there hasn't been much, but I'm only a few months in. I have been a long-term horse owner, so I knew what was involved there, and I studied numerous threads on this forum about what I should prepare for in terms of farmette ownership/management. The biggest one for me was manure management/composting. Despite everyone saying they produce a lot, I was still unprepared for the sheer amount of crap my boys produce. But I'm working as I go, and I was prepared enough in my manure planning that I can (so far!) handle the extra that I wasn't expecting.

      I will say, this forum has been invaluable! As I get questions, I routinely search old threads or pose questions that are rapidly answered.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have no idea what your skill set is, but in general, after knowing the basics of feed, water and shelter, I think someone should be able to recognize lameness, do basic first aid including wrapping wounds in various locations, know how to restrain a horse that is being difficult, knowing how to give IM injections, and things like that. If you can do that then I'm not sure what your daughter is worried about Perhaps she doesn't want to leave her friends?

        I wish I knew more about land management, but I'm learning. I wish I owned a gravel pit and a brand new beautiful tractor with a FEL, blade, giant mower, and post hole pounder. Oh and a UTV. And I wish I didn't have to fence the entire farm next year, but at least I get to do it my way. *sigh*

        I'm very excited to get chickens next spring. Stuff like that trips my trigger. I love gardening as well. I can't wait to be done with the house remodeling and actually get to the FARM part.
        DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by The Crone of Cottonmouth County View Post
          I don't know jack about living in the country, I admit it freely. I've even got a blog about how bad I am at it. Everyone said "don't do it, you know you're a moron!" I did it anyway because, like you, I'd accumulated 3 horses over the years and thought I was pretty realistic about the care involved. Ha! Good one. Every single day some perplexing problem or unsolvable conundrum or grievous catastrophe befalls me. Wild hogs in the paddock, donkeys in the pool, herd-bound horses with life-threatening anxiety attacks, tractor crashes, hay shortages, ghastly injuries, droughts, septic blow-outs -- I'm picking up the skills as I go along, the main skill being knowing which repair man, ambulance, horse trainer, vet, sheriff, psychiatrist, or fence guy to call whenever it all totally goes south.

          I am surprised every morning when I wake up and the house hasn't fallen into a sinkhole and the horses haven't been eaten by tigers.

          It's pretty fun, though.
          http://essas-storm.blogspot.ca/ An OTTB rescue/project found me!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by cada931 View Post
            My daughter, who really likes the social aspect of the boarding barn, has informed me that we don't know enough to look after the horses ourselves
            To me, this screams "RED FLAG"! I was knowledgable, bought my farm, and there are a lot of judgment calls you, and only you need to make- blanketing, adjusting feed, and just like Crone stated- there's injuries, illnesses, and a castastrophic issues that you can never anticipate. I use my knowledge on a constant basis. I have friends to ask, and of course vets, but if you don't pick up on a possible colic signal, you could be in a lot of trouble very quickly by yourself (with your daughter).

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post
              I have no idea what your skill set is, but in general, after knowing the basics of feed, water and shelter, I think someone should be able to recognize lameness, do basic first aid including wrapping wounds in various locations, know how to restrain a horse that is being difficult, knowing how to give IM injections, and things like that. If you can do that then I'm not sure what your daughter is worried about Perhaps she doesn't want to leave her friends?
              Those are good skills to have - thankfully I've had more exposure to lameness and first aid through other boarders' horses and not mine.

              She definitely doesn't want to leave her friends, and I understand that - I'm reluctant to leave my friends there too (and their advice!). There's no timeline, but the commuting takes up a lot of time and miles. I can't see boarding forever, and at some point I'd rather be paying off my mortgage and not someone else's.
              http://essas-storm.blogspot.ca/ An OTTB rescue/project found me!

              Comment


              • #8
                For me the biggest challenge was finding a reliable hay supply. I had one fellow who had beautiful grass hay, but I had to practically beg him to come to my place since it was out of his normal delivery area. And I paid an extra delivery fee, plus chocolate chip cookies, to get him to come to my place. I used him for a couple of years, but then he changed to the big bales and that didn't work for me anymore. Trial and error, and lots of wasted bales later I found another supplier, and I admit I pay through the nose for his hay, but it's worth it to have someone dependable and who will hold bales for me for mid-winter delivery.

                The rest of it has been pretty easy and lots of fun. It is EVERY DAY, though. If you're not prepared for that you should reconsider. Rain, snow, sleet, hail...and mud...you're on duty.

                I've loved it, though. Six years and counting.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Callista17 View Post
                  To me, this screams "RED FLAG"!
                  To me that scream teenager who thinks they know everything (like every other teenager) and does not want to leave her boarding barn and have to only hang with her mother at home.


                  You will not be keeping your horses in a void. You do not bring them home and all the other people in the world that you ask for hep and advice disappear.

                  Guessing your first few months will involve lots of phone calls with "sorry to ask you a stupid question but Dobbin just .... " and slowly you will get more and more comfortable making those decisions on your own.

                  Be sure, before you buy any property, that your vet and farrier of choice will be willing to go to wherever your new place is.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    It's true, according to her I can't select an appropriate blanket by myself.

                    It's good that she's actively involved and concerned about them, though. I'm a re-rider after 30+ years off and I'm happy to have this to share with her (she started riding when she was 6).
                    http://essas-storm.blogspot.ca/ An OTTB rescue/project found me!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm with Crone, but somehow after 8 years both me & the horses are doing fine.
                      Former Big City gal now caring for a 5ac farmette by my Senior Self.

                      As for what you need to know, I'll ask what kind of horsecare experience you have aside from what you do when horses are boarded.

                      Do you know what they eat? How much? How often?
                      Not that you can't change either feed or schedule, but you need to know what you're changing and why.

                      How about turnout?
                      If horses are to be stalled, who will turn them out, bring them in, etc.

                      I agree with saddleup that a good, reliable source of hay is of the
                      Utmost Importance.
                      Ask your boarding barn who they use, if they are within a reasonable distance from your proposed farm, or neighbors with horses in the area you are looking to buy.
                      Feedstores are usually waaaaaay overpriced for hay.

                      Make sure your vet farrier will make farm calls.

                      Are you planning to get - or do you now have - a truck and trailer for hauling in an emergency?

                      If you ever want to leave the farm you will need a farmsitter.
                      In the 8yrs I've been here, I've used neighbors, friends with horses, WS from other barns and most recently a guy from my local feedstore.
                      Payscale from $0 to $15/visit < and I require 2X daily visits to feed.
                      Still, I've been able to take a vacation every year, sometimes just a long weekend, but as long as 10 days in Asia, so it can be done.

                      Good Luck and don't let 13yo tell you what you know
                      *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


                      • #12
                        Think hard about what you want to do with horses.
                        Do you enjoy playing house and caring for your horses, or going to the barn to ride and visit with those there, enjoy their facilities and trainers and going to shows or on trail rides?

                        Keeping horses at home is a whole different horse world for many.
                        You can do both, but it then will take time management and still driving to go do what you are doing now with them out of the boarding barn.

                        Since a kid and her friends are involved, why not consider waiting a few years until she is into other and then re-evaluate where your horse life is going?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          When we got here one of the things we knew would be hard was that we were new to the area. So all the knowledge of the stores to go to, places to get stuff, places to fix the car, all that, we had to start over.

                          I went out and took lessons down the road and asked my trainer for references and unfortunately she had a lot of friends that just did for her in terms of mowing and grading and digging burial holes, she grew her own hay, her farrier was specialized and not what we needed. We did get the name of the feed store and have used them, and the equine dentist, (good guy), and the vet, who is old and hates to do farm calls. Our next door neighbors horse keep to a different standard and we got our trimmer from them and our hay guy. I scour the bulletin board at TSC and now have the number for the deadstock guy so we don't HAVE to dig our own hole, we have our own little backhoe that goes on the tractor but it takes forever to get through this stuff.

                          It's helpful to be handy. You'll go broke if you have to pay outside contractors for every little nick and ding (or busted pipe). Always plan for things to take twice as long. You'll break the last drill bit and have to go out and buy another (plural) halfway through most projects. And even though you are buying a farmette for the equine aspect, primarily you are buying a small farm with all the upkeep that it entails. Country living means maybe not having internet and trash service or cell phone coverage, the mailbox could be a ways away, everything could be a ways away, like groceries and gasoline.


                          Now, as I recall it, back in the day being able to give an IM injection was not a common skill and there were plenty of pasture kept horses including mine whose owners did self care and didn't know how. But back in the day we didn't have the great paste wormers nor did I keep a big tube of Bute in the cupboard.


                          Morgan ponies said she just reads through coth for old threads and finds a lot of answers, there is also Jessica Jaheil's Horsesense archives, and there are several books by Cherry Hill, Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage for planning out the farmette and structures, Horsekeeping Almanac for keeping ahead of weeding and seeding and winterizing and summerizing.


                          I like it. I wish I was younger though, I get home from work and feed and then feed before bedtime and that's about all I get done. There are literally dozens of projects calling me all the time.
                          Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                          Incredible Invisible

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            One little tidbit I'd suggest- find a farm that has water on it....A nice running stream will make your life SOOOOO much easier. I NEVER have to clean water tubs, carry water, worry about hoses etc- I know that cuts alot of hassle.
                            Is your 13 year old a bit afraid of all the work that will be required of her maybe? LOL. I know mine is a HUGE help....I make sure she has friends over when we get hay that needs unloaded ;-)
                            Kerri

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Oooh! Whoever mentioned internet. I haven't figured out the best cable replacement, but I'm happy with our fast internet through the jet pack (Verizon). Plus you can take it in the car or on trips and have your own broadband anywhere. Downside is you will no longer want to download movies in high def, etc. Too much data. This cost more than my cable internet did.

                              Random: One thing I didn't realize before moving to the country was how freaking much more expensive rural water is. Also propane is way more than natural gas. Very big bummer. Old house: gas cooktop, gas dryer, gas heat, gas water heater. New house: dual fuel (so electric first) furnace and more energy efficient gas water heater (no gas cooking )and double the bill!
                              DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I always have a hard time "understanding" the threads about caring for horses at home and the level of thought and sometimes panic that is related to these types of threads...

                                I was 5 when COMPLETELY NON HORSIE parents bought me a wretched pony. I had her for 2 years, and she was sold as the final straw when she bucked off my best friend and broke her arm.

                                Next horse...full size morgan/QH gelding, pushy as all hell but not mean, no clue what this horse's training was...I rode him bareback because I was too small to lift a saddle onto his back.

                                I learned by experience. I realize this is not always the best way. But with a good handle on basic knowledge (feed, signs of an emergency or lameness, etc), any adult should be able to handle it, and your knowledge will only increase over time.

                                I think self care IS the best way to learn. There are still professionals out there to help you, its not like self care means you're alone in the horse world. There is nothing like KNOWING your horse, and I mean really knowing it. A lot of people who board wouldn't know the first sign that something wasn't quite right with their horse because they don't interact on an every day, every management aspect basis. [Some do interact every day but its still not the same]

                                I know when even a tiny little thing is not right with my horses. I control what they eat & when they eat it.

                                I realize there are limitations when you self care (like being there twice a day and no matter the weather), finding a hay supplier, not being able to go on vacations without a knowledgeable horse person to care for the animals...

                                The best way to become more knowledgeable is to require it of yourself.
                                "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Don't discount the social aspect for your daughter. Will you have a new social place for her in the new location?

                                  I currently have horses at home *and* am driving a long way once a week to get my daughter lessons in a social atmosphere that works for her.

                                  The biggest problem other than that is that the care of the place takes time, and that most places don't come with a nice arena. But as far as figuring out how to care for the horses, you can totally do that. It's a little scary but it will be fine.

                                  The other thing to consider is who will care for the horses when you are gone. It is not always easy to find horse-sitting, especially not at times like xmas when the days are short and everyone is busy. That may affect your life more than you realize.

                                  All that said, I like my place and I'm not sorry.
                                  If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    In my opinion, the "horse care" is the easiest part of owning a farm. It's really not rocket science...they are horses, not nuclear bombs. You'll need a good source for hay and a decent setup to make sure that you have shelter, sturdy fences, and safe turnout areas, a well-equipped first aid kit is essential, and a tractor makes your life much easier. A farrier and vet that will come to you in an emergency are probably worth more than years of practical experience...you probably already know enough already to know when you need to bring in the pros.

                                    I know I'm probably going to get flamed for saying it - but seriously, if you are equipped to raise a human, you should be able to keep horses and do a good job of it. Obviously you already know a lot about horses, so you're not starting from scratch.

                                    The things I wish I knew could fill a book....but there will always be things you don't know. If you have people you can ask for help (farrier, vet, horsey friends) it will be fine. Having a reliable source for a farm sitter will be invaluable in case of emergency, or simply taking a vacation.

                                    I would think most carefully about the selection of the property...small things can make a huge difference in the ease and safety of having horses at home. Where things are stored, how you would move horses from one place to another, etc. can make your life much easier (or not.)

                                    Obviously your daughter may have other reasons for not wanting to buy a farm and move out of a boarding barn, but I would think that most horse owners who *want* to learn to keep their horses at home should not have too much trouble figuring it out.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Are you in an area with an active Pony Club? If you get involved, you'll learn how all of this works - and your daughter will have friends who also keep their horses at home.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Thank you all for your cautions and reassurances - I've found the resources on this forum invaluable. We're not strangers to rural living, and there's some desire to get back that space and privacy. For me, I'm just as happy to have the barn/arena to myself when I'm out during the day.

                                        I'm responsible for their feed and adjustments, so I'm comfortable with that. I'm pretty happy with how my ulcer-prone hard keeper OTTB is doing since some diet adjustments. Depending on the property I expect we'd have some neighbors with horses too. I will definitely look into hay supplies, water/utilities, internet, and confirm my vet's and farrier's range. I do want to make sure it's the right time and decision with respect to vacations/travel, which we enjoy.

                                        I will of course listen to my daughter's input as well
                                        http://essas-storm.blogspot.ca/ An OTTB rescue/project found me!

                                        Comment

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