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Using a "barn" with no electricity?

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  • Using a "barn" with no electricity?

    I recently moved to a beautiful farm (leased, not mine). I love being able to live onsite with my horses again! It's a fabulous place to live and ride. However, there is no "barn" in the sense of a normal horse stable with stalls. There is a building with two stalls in it, run-in shed style. It is adequate enough for my 3 horses, two of which live outside 24/7; only one horse comes inside at night. However, it does not have electricity...I have to plan all my work cleaning/feeding etc during daylight, which is getting shorter as winter approaches. I have several flashlights and a headlamp, which work ok to throw some hay after dark or top off a water bucket.

    Does anyone have suggestions on how to cope with no electricity? I have always been at a "proper" stable (even when horses lived out) with lights, outlets for fans, hot water, etc. There is a tobacco barn 100yds away with electric; if I have to use clippers or something portable I can lead the horse over there and have someone hold it (no available stalls in that barn). It's a PITA, but doable.

    My real concern is the occasion of an injury or some emergency where the horse needs to be stalled, but I need real light for treatment at night. And I do worry about next summer, being able to bring horses inside but having no fan?

    After horse-keeping for 15 years with access to a hot water washrack, aisle lights, stall lights, fans, stall outlets, heated tackroom/feed room, and windows/doors that close to the elements... I feel like I'm permanently "roughing it" in the wild. I know it's possible-- but what can make it better? I'm not trying to sound spoiled or whiny; I don't mind breaking ice and hauling water. But little things, like where my blacksmith plugs his truck up, or my vet to work when he arrives late... I'm trying to plan ahead and make this easier.

    “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
    ? Albert Einstein


  • #2
    You could get a small portable generator. They're not terribly expensive. You just wouldn't want to leave one unattended.

    I think you'll be okay without fans. But we bought a small generator to use while tail gating and it's easy to use, quiet, etc. It would probably meet your needs.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


    • #3
      I am guessing the longer you do the no lights thing the more you will get used to it and soon enough it will be no big deal. The light your headlamp gives off will seem like plenty.

      I like the generator idea for those emergency must have light, vet is coming situations.


      • #4
        It *is* an adjustment! I kept my horses "in the dark" for the first couple years when they came home. I often just fed in the dark, didn't even bother with a flashlight or headlamp, although I had both (and would use them to check horses for injuries, etc). I cleaned stalls, groomed, blanketed, wrapped legs or hooves due to injury, etc, all in the dark or by headlamp. It took some getting used to, and darn it if there weren't some days that I would've given both arms to have electricity over there, but all in all it worked out just fine.

        I never have used barn fans anyway, and it does get hot and humid here, but the horses have always seemed to manage just fine.

        As far as light for treating a major injury/emergency, get a (or 2) bright solar powered or battery powered light, and check it often so you know its charged and it'll work when you need it.


        • #5
          If this place is worth investing in you can run power out to the shed yourself.

          DH has used contractor grade power cords from Lowe's http://www.lowes.com/pd_82455-66906-...AID=1023739828 for a bunch of the heated water buckets, and put in power to the old run in and run power from the shop to another area. For a permanent installation you'll need to trench, but in some areas aerial wiring is just fine if the distance is close enough. DH has exteriorized Romex in PVC conduit that runs along a fence to get to one spot, you could call it redneck as it is only safe as long as the fence doesn't get smashed into, of course an underground service could be dug up and an aerial could be knocked down.

          When the equine dentist came out he was perfectly happy with the extension cord.
          Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
          Incredible Invisible


          • #6
            there are fantastic bright flashlights out now, some for camping some for other uses, probably brighter and more spot on than any installed light can be.

            And i na pinch - depending on distance - you can do a lot with the good extension cords!

            much of what a 'real' barn has to offer is people comfort.
            For years my uncle's barn did not have more than a 40w bulb in the aisle as lighting (well, it probably was a bigger bulb, but it felt like a 40), back in the day the next best thing since sliced bread!
            When the waterers froze, the horses were led to the big trough, spring fed so it never froze, tough the water was frigid, even in the summer!


            • #7
              While my main barn has electricity, the hay barn doesn't. I have a solar-powered light in there. LED, runs off of a small solar panel. Charges well even on cloudy days. I think it cost me around $40.
              My Equestrian Art Photography page


              • #8
                Get a better headlamp. When we lost power for a bunch of days, I could really tell when I grabbed the low-end headlamp. Fresh batteries also make a big difference.


                • #9
                  There are some decent solar-powered floodlamps that can be installed with the light inside and the panel outside the barn. Here's one example. Here's another.



                  • #10
                    I go with the solar-powered shed lights too. Home Depot sells them and they are easy to install.
                    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!


                    • #11
                      This? http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...0869%2d%5f%2dx
                      "Police officers are public servants. Not James Bond with a license to kill."


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ThisTooShallPass View Post
                        I think those I linked to will give off more light. You might want to check specs.



                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by ThisTooShallPass View Post
                          Thanks so much for the suggestions! I think this smaller light would be perfect for the tiny tack room area-- I wouldn't be in there more than the 3-hr battery life.

                          The floodlight/security lights would definitely put off more light, but they all say "motion activated." Can you turn that off? Or would the light go on every time my horse moved around?

                          Thanks so much for these options, I will definitely look into solar-powered light. I do have access to a generator on my husband's service truck, as long as it's not employed somewhere else.
                          “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
                          ? Albert Einstein



                          • #14
                            You said there is electricity in the tabacco barn. If you find the other suggestions don't work, can you build some stalls in the tabacco barn?

                            I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


                            • Original Poster

                              I went to Lowe's today and looked at solar lights. Everything I could find was "motion sensor" only... meaning if I used them in a stall, the poor horse would be setting the light off constantly. I found one with a very apparent on/off switch, but if the light is affixed up high, I wouldn't be able to reach the switch without a ladder.

                              There was a price tag for a battery-powered security light (with leads for a car battery) but they were not in stock, so I couldn't find out much more.

                              I did invest in a quality LED camping lantern, which will at least be very useful in the tiny tack room, and perhaps even good enough for emergency stall use. I just have to get some D batteries first...

                              Regarding the tobacco barn-- it does have several old, decrepit stalls in it, but they are filled with old hay, junk, and lots and lots of wood (boards, stairs, mantles, etc). The barn is primarily used for hay storage-- it has probably 1000 bales stacked down the aisleway, and whatever space leftover is used to store a giant forklift and other equipment...so I can't really even get at the stalls if I wanted to. I would really like to have a stall in that barn cleaned out for emergency use, but I have to wait until some of the hay is gone before I can even start working on it. Gotta love farm projects!
                              “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
                              ? Albert Einstein



                              • #16
                                Originally posted by IFG View Post
                                Get a better headlamp. When we lost power for a bunch of days, I could really tell when I grabbed the low-end headlamp. Fresh batteries also make a big difference.
                                Yeah, I have to agree with this. My barn doesn't have power and I do all my chores from Monday-Friday in the dark with a headlamp. AM/PM feedings and cleaning stalls. While I eventually have plans to distribute power, I've been putting it off because it hasn't been that big of an issue. Right now, my biggest concern would be if I have an emergency and the vet needs power for something. But my house is close enough to drag extension cords if necessary.


                                • #17
                                  Some things to look for in a camping lantern:

                                  CREE (It's a trademark) LEDs. They're more efficient and durable than conventional ones.

                                  Rechargeable battery pack + ability to operate from conventional flashlight cells in an emergency.

                                  200 Lumen or more light output. High and low settings will increase battery life.

                                  Rugged construction. Stay away from the cheap stuff.

                                  The best sources are hunting and camping stores such as Cabelas and Bass Pro Shops.

                                  If you want to run a comparison on the various types of lighting, click here:
                                  The summary is on page 11. Light output in Lumens for each type is near the top of the chart.
                                  Last edited by Frank B; Dec. 2, 2012, 11:47 AM.
                                  The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                                  Winston Churchill


                                  • #18

                                    Ceiling/beam or wall mount battery LED lights. These aren't dim, they're pretty powerful and bright. This type uses D batteries, which you can buy the large containers of at a radio Shack, etc for not very much.

                                    They also make these types with rechargeable batteries. Then just keep the batteries on a charger in the house, grab batteries before walking out to barn so you always have brightest light.
                                    You jump in the saddle,
                                    Hold onto the bridle!
                                    Jump in the line!


                                    • #19
                                      I was without electric or water at my barn (also run-in type) for several years and survived but now that I've got electric and water I like it a lot better! You didn't say how far you were from a water faucet but we ran about 150' or more of hose to the run-in, left it year-round and it actually worked for years, rarely freezing up. That should save you from hauling buckets for most of the year - just remember to fill your troughs whenever you have nice days in the winter. Since you're in KY you should be able to make something like that work most of the year...We're in Western NC so probably not too different.) But DO remember to unhook the hose end from the faucet whenever hard freezing temps are expected, otherwise you can ruin your faucet plumbing.
                                      It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.


                                      • #20
                                        I have water in my barn, but no power (yet).
                                        Did surprisingly well last winter with 2 good sized LED flashlights that I stood up inside a couple of empty dog supplement containers, stabilized with a partial roll of paper towels (a Maglite barrel will fit quite nicely inside a roll of paper towels!). Totally ghetto, but it worked well enough that I contemplated rigging up some sort of PVC pipe brackets to affix to the walls to hold the flashlights. Shine them straight up at the ceiling, so the light can reflect downward, and if you set them on the ground, try very hard NOT to bend over them - they're bright!

                                        This year, though - my dad found these: http://reviews.costco.com/2070/11612...rt=helpfulness at Costco. I've got 4 of them mounted in my barn - 2 in the aisle, 2 in the tackroom, and two spares. It isn't daylight bright, but totally workable. (I could read in the tackroom, if I wanted to.) They're wall mounted with velcro, I think, use 3 AAA batteries each, have a dimmer, a timer and they work by a remote, which I put up as my "lightswitch" just inside the tackroom door.

                                        As far as emergencies go (and I did have one last winter) - we used the Maglites, and the vet pulled the truck right up into the aisle of the barn. It wasn't ideal, but it worked fine.

                                        It's not fancy, but it's working (and it's CHEAP! - the puck lights only cost $30, and we also used them during the hurricane when the power went out). Someday I'll have electric in the barn, but I want to do it right, and that requires time and planning.