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could you do it..?

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  • could you do it..?

    Farm life...all by yourself...could you do it? Take care of the property, do the barn, work a job, have a life, ride your horse or horses? Can you do it? How do you manage?

    Except for the price of the house, I've found the perfect farm. Its completely set up with the nice barn, small ring, paddocks, decent house in a decent location...they offered to rent it to me at a fair price, but I want to take advantage of buying in this market and the price they want to sell is not workable in this market. Too high...

    I'm so close I can feel it...it sucks...do I wait? or do I jump to rent? If I rent, I lose out on buying because of the lease...and I really don't want to move twice...

    So...there is a part of me that is afraid of the work, of being further out from my life...and a big part of me afraid of the financial commitment...I have no doubt if I rented this property that I could make it work, but I'm hesitant to rent....

    Guess I'm in a mood tonight....want to hear how you single ladies do it...I've managed a 20 stall barn, done all the stalls and feedings...hired some help for some nights/weekends...but it was still a full time job...I like having just my 2 and not having to worry so much about others horses. I'm not worried though of caring for 6 - barnwork is fine...its the other stuff...

    So...care to share your stories?
    For things to do in Loudoun County, visit: www.365thingstodoloudoun.com

  • #2

    I'm kinda surprised you didn't get a ton of responses already.

    -First of all is a lease w/option to buy not a possibility?
    Part of your rental goes toward purchase - you lose that money if you decide not to buy, but rent goes down a hole anyhow so no major loss to you if it doesn't suit you.
    Plus you get to live in the place and find the flaws, if any, while landlord still is responsible for repairs.

    Yes - I do live alone on a 5ac farmette with my 2 horses.
    I work 4 days a week, volunteer 1/2 day on the 5th and still manage to do my horsekeeping.
    You already have more experience than me there - I spent some time as a working student but never cared for horses fulltime until I got my own place.
    I don't have the deep pockets, equipment or wherewithal to do it by the book. Being a relocated Big City Girl I use my own resources to do the farm jobs.
    I have no tractor - my riding mower does that job for now. It has mowed pasture and pulled a dumpcart and hopefully will pull a Newer Spreader...some day...
    I paid big $$ for fencing and had pros install it, but 5 years later it has proved maintenance-free for the most part. I consider that money well spent.
    My pastures are not golf courses, but every year they produce a little more forage for my boys. I have yet to reseed or fertilize but I do "mulch" by mowing manure piles.
    Barn chores take me all of 20min twice a day. Horses are out 24/7 with free access to stalls so that shaves a lot of time off. No bringing them out & in and stall cleaning is minimal.

    I do ride less than when I boarded - but then the trip was made expressly for the purpose and I do NOT miss Barn Drama one bit!
    I built myself an indoor only to discover I prefer to ride outdoors. Oh well, I tell people it is the World's Largest Covered Walkway to the manure pile.
    My showing days are over (by my choice) and my horses are older - 27 & 15 - but both still fun rides when I do get on. Which I have the luxury of doing by walking 250' to the barn instead of driving 40 miles. I have a sometimes dressage trainer who will come to my place and took a clinic last Fall with a BNT, so I try to keep my hand in. I have also horsecamped with friends who live 2h from me - wish they were closer.
    Last year I took driving lessons and now want to add a driving pony to my herd. That is something I probably never would have done if I was still boarding.

    Your fear of Lifestyle Change is valid.
    I am now an hour away from former friends and few of them bother to make the trek to visit.
    I do still see them, but maybe once or twice a month when I am in the city instead of once a week.
    Maybe it is me, but I have managed to make few new friends and those are not horsy.
    I do have good and generous neighbors who help me out - some horsesit, some loan equipment. So I am able to get off the farm to visit family, take vacations and get big jobs done.
    All considered I am not unhappy with my decision about 98% of the time and that is about all I expect from Life anyhow.

    Hope this helped
    *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


    • #3
      When I got divorced in '94, I bought my own 5-acre farm, complete with 1920 farmhouse. The place needed a LOT of work, but it was cosmetic work, mostly. Riding did take a hiatus for about a year - as much due to finances as to all the physical labor I was doing on my place. I lived there by myself for 7 years. I worked full time and between work and commute, I was gone 11 hours a day, but still had time to ride, mow, and keep the place up. I was pushing 40 when I bought the place. My dad helped me a lot with repairs, etc, I hired the shell of a barn built and finished out the inside myself (saving a lot of money), I did the plumbing myself, and my dad did the electrical.

      I think it just depends on what sort of person you are. Some people are 'do it yourself' types and some arent'. Some are content to spend more time alone, some aren't.

      Also, I keep hearing people gripe about having less time to ride at their own place and I don't get that - you're not commuting back and forth to a barn which saves a bunch of time. Also, it is all a matter of what you put first. I know some people who are so anal about barn upkeep (aisle sweeping, cobweb eradication, etc) they fritter away any time they have to ride. Believe me, the horses don't care if there are some cobwebs and a less-than-perfect barn aisle. I still have a farm, (a different farm) am remarried and now have three horses, and I am still working those 11-hour days, I'm now 52, and I ride every single day and compete three horses in dressage (one at third level, two are greenies) and go to the gym 3 times a week. I do have a housekeeper twice a month and someone to do the yard now (but not the pastures). It can be done. Oh, and I never got lonely - I was (and still am) in a small town on the outskirts of a huge city, and pretty close to everything, and only had to look out my window and watch the horses or the cats for amusement. I am easily amused.
      Last edited by cyndi; Mar. 11, 2009, 01:51 PM.
      Donerail Farm


      • #4
        I did it for 3 years before I met my husband. Matter of fact, I still kinda do it alone bc although he's an animal lover, he had no idea what he was getting into coming to the farm! LOL! He does help out if I need it though- which is rare that I ask.

        20 acres. 37 stalls but only 24 of them used as I shut down the other barn to avoid overloading again (used to have 43 there with full time staff,etc). I have 9 of my own- riding two of them at the time. Had between 14-20 horses there at any time. Paid help to run stalls but I fed, hayed, watered twice/day, maintained the property, house, buildings. Worked 9 hour days with short commute (20mins).

        I didn't ride enough to compete, but enough to keep me sane. The farm is my life and that is how I like it. It's private so I like that I can come home and take a deep breath and relax... and putz for hours around the barn/grounds until I want to stop.

        I set the farm up in the beginning so it's low maintenance (haha!) and easy to run. Buildings, equipment, supplies are strategically placed and I bought just enough equipment to make things run smoothly. I have a mechanic that comes to the farm when I need him (so I don't have to take time to deliver and pick up from the dealer). I have a handyman I call when I need to that can fix anything I can't. I have hay/feed delivered bc I go through so much it's worth the fee. So... there are a few things you can do to make things so much easier for you on the farm. That way you spend more time on projects, riding, or just admiring your life's work.

        Will the farm owners get another appraisal if one wasn't done in past 6 months? The girl across the streets farm appraised at 40% lower than when she bought it 3 years ago- even with the additions she did. The market is that bad. Maybe if the farm owners see the $600k price drop to $400k (or whatever numbers they have!) they will realize it's best to sell now. They might want to rent it now to "carry" them through this bad economy and sell it in a few years when it bounces back. But why do all that work and have to move again in a few years?!?

        I'm not a fan of renting either- so I'd definitely put some energy into finding out their true bottom price and go for it!


        • #5
          What I have noticed is that people move to their own "place" and rarely if ever ride again.

          I think you should consider your riding/horse ownership goals when making your decision.

          As far as the market goes... rates appear to be low now but experts are forecasting inflation. I remember when interest rates for a mortgage were double digits.

          I can't tell you whether or not to buy or rent.... just consider the fact that there will be no BO or BM to fix downed fences, install fence, paint, wait for the vet or farrier, seed, harrow, lime, fertilize, clean stalls, turn in, turn out, blanket, unblanket, feed, run to the feed stores, stack hay, etc.

          It's such a personal thing, in the end. What aspects of horse ownership do you prize most? Don't minimize the social aspect of boarding/training barns - it's more fun to ride with friends or go out for a beer afterwards. Will you enjoy being alone all the time? Will you still ride?

          Also don't minimize the financial aspect of keeping horses at home. It's not cheaper than boarding. Generally.

          You might decide to rent and see how you like it - that way you are not "stuck" if you are miserable and have not spent money on upkeep. But - if you love it you can still offer to buy even before the lease runs out.

          I tell folks to think of it as a real life changing event - it is a lifestyle. (depending on where you are, how rural you are, how much land you have, etc.) It's a wonderful life and you can do it all by yourself. I do - though I pay extra to have hay stacked and sometimes need a hand with heavy lifting.(bad back).

          Sorry if I offend - just trying to be realistic. I love rural life and doing everything myself. But friends who have moved out to the country are miserable, their horses unridden and pretty much just lawn ornaments. Other folks seem to do ok, especially if they can afford to hire help on occasion.
          Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
          Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
          -Rudyard Kipling


          • #6
            I have a 120 acre farm in the deep south. Most of it remains in heavy woods with about 20 acres cleared for house & horses. I've been here about 10 years now & can't imagine ever leaving, EVER! I do it all alone. No large # of horses. I have 6 now & when the 2 mares foal that'll be 8 if all goes well.
            I do it all. I was getting some help with spraying pastures, etc from my Dad but now that he's been so ill & lives 90 miles away it's back to me. There are times when it looks like a hurricane came through, kinda like now. I have to make the time to pick up sticks, tree limbs, etc from the bad weather we just had. I need to spray my fence lines, mow my yard, etc. My 2 colts look like hair balls but truly everyone has a great shine & is fat & happy. The easiest thing I do is keep everyone outside 24/7 in run-in sheds. Better for them & for me. I could stall them but I only have a small barn & not enough stalls for everyone. They love being out & I love not having to clean up after them. I just take the tractor & scoop out the sheds periodically as needed.
            If you look on my shutterfly page you'll see how great they look at show time. If they ever need extra shine I give them some coat conditioner & a little elbow grease & they're good to go!
            I love being on my own. Kicked out the hubby about 21 years ago & haven't looked back. I'm a home health RN so I can sort of set my own hours around farm needs but still I have to work daily & it is a burden to try to keep ahead financially. It is so worth it though!
            For years as I worked & bred horses for a living, then boarded some horses while I went back to school, I had to put up with some class 1 jerks. Here, I'm the boss. I don't have to put up with anyone bugging me. Everyday when I turn into my beautiful driveway I can feel the stresses just melt away. I count all the heads & faces & be sure everyone is okay & it's the most peaceful feeling in the world to know I'm home where I can relax & do things my way without having to deal with outside personalities. Love it. I hope you have a great time on your farm! Do it!
            Producing horses with gentle minds & brilliant movement!


            • #7
              I own a 10 acre property. I do the mowing and maintenance, barn chores, etc. I ride, compete one horse in eventing,and care for two others. I work a full time job (extremely demanding full time job at that), haul at least weekly to the trainer for a lesson (sometimes twice a week) except for in the winter.

              I have a husband but he started a small business and the 'five year plan' for it accelerated a lot faster than either one of us guessed it would. He has a full time job too, plus the running and traveling for his business.

              Because of the small business, I take care of all the house upkeep and chores. I take care of the home finance, and recently took over the business finance.

              We don't have children, nor do we have much of a social life that isn't focused around his business. I see friends at shows.

              It's cured me of sleeping in and not getting up when the alarm goes off.

              I try to get up around 5-5:30 to do chores before I go to work. In the evening is when I ride. I get up the same time on Saturday and Sunday. I'm a creature of habit, so it's just easier for me to keep the same schedule.

              I wouldn't trade it for anything. I hated boarding and would much rather spend a day in 10 degree weather fixing a busted water pipe than boarding out, psycho barn owners, and barn drama.

              As for the renting/buying.... I look at the farm as a financial investment. As long as the place is a good buy and you are smart with how you improve the place, I say go for it.


              • #8
                I own 10 acres and keep my two horses completely by myself. I am a teacher, and although that is very demanding, I do have a flexible schedule during the summer.

                There is no need for me to repeat everything the others have said...I agree with most of their points.

                I would say that the ease (or the perceived ease) of solo horsekeeping directly correlates with the amount of disposable income you have. The more money you have to spend on tools, equipment, maintenence, and supplies to make your life easier, the easier it seems to keep the horses. Conversely, when money is very tight and you see projects that need to be completed but don't have the funds to do them, horsekeeping can seem like a great burden. Key to your horsekeeping contentment will be your ability to decide at what level you want to maintain your horsey lifestyle and realistically being able to afford to do that.

                Regarding your decision to rent v. buy: I think renting for a while would be a good way to find out if indeed you are ready for a purchase commitment and a life of single horsekeeping. Anywhere you live, you have to pay for it. From that standpoint, renting would not be a waste of money. In the short term, you would not be missing out on building equity by renting because property values are generally continuing to decline.

                Good luck with your decision!
                "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch


                • #9
                  5 acres, two horses at home (one retired and a 2yo), one boarded and I take lessons on him. I don't ride alone since I got injured a few years ago. I am a teacher in the public school system, so I'm gone 8-4 -ish every day

                  What do I love? Working in the garden and barn. Nickers when I feed. Looking out and seeing the "girls" (OK, one's a gelding) at rest, at play, grazing... even mowing becomes something like a meditation.

                  For me the hardest thing is the big two person chores.... like picking up the big BIG branches in the back forested area, or fixing the curved area of the fence (filly decided she would be a jumper... NOT.) If you have access to a reliable handy person, (wish I did), then it should be great. You will love it.



                  • #10
                    I have 42 acres and 27 horses. My husband is not an animal person, so he does not help out at all. I feed mon-fri mornings, and do stalls twice a week. Most of my boarders pick up an evening feedshift/stalls. I give them $xx for each shift, and it comes off of their board. It works out really well. Boarder A does mondays, Boarder B does Tuesdays, and so on. We have 12 stalls, and the rest of the horses are field boarded. There is no way I would physically/mentally be able to do everything (am feed, turnout, stalls, water, pm feed, etc.) everyday by myself. I also work a fulltime job (50 hours a week) and a husband. I feed at 5:30am and then go to work. I have a handyman that comes to the farm about once a week to fix boards, drag the ring, etc. I give one of my boarders free board during the Spring/Summer, and her husband comes and mows the fields ( 35 acres total) every couple of weeks.
                    I dont ride as much as when they (I have 2) were boarded because I spend a lot of my free time doing various things in the barn (moving jumps around, cleaning the washstall, scrubing water troughs, etc). I do try to ride about 3 times a week.
                    Just my opinion, but I would suggest you lease first in order to make sure that having your own farm is really what you want. I leased mine out two years ago to a girl who wanted to train/give lessons. After 6 months she realized that it was too much work for her and she gave up the lease.
                    Happy Hour-TB
                    Cowboy Casanova - Brandenburg


                    • #11
                      I think it really depends on what you want your social life to be and whether or not you have a truck and trailer. LOL

                      Seriously though.

                      I leased a farm for a few years...I didn't live on site but was responsible for all of the maintenance in addition obviously to caring for my critters. I loved it.

                      During the winter, I got up at 6, got ready for work and pulled on the coveralls...drove 20 min to the barn. Turned girls out, threw hay, filled water.

                      After work, back to the barn, clean stalls, bring horses in. I had a big poop wagon that I filled during the week.

                      On Saturdays, I spent most of the day at the barn. I would run to the feed store for shavings, grain, etc. Then off to the barn to turn the girls out. Then the "deep cleaning" and arranging hay for the following week. THis is when I'd get the tractor out and haul the poop out to the field, do repairs, etc.

                      In the summer, I had a lean to and only stalled when there was bad lightening. Summers were easy as far as care. I'd go out in the a.m., fill water, fly spray, check the girls over, put on flymasks. After work, I'd run out and ride. Usually got home around 9pm or so.

                      On the weekends, I'd walk the fence, weed whip, mow, etc.

                      I think it would be even easier if you lived on site. My mom did it most of my life--with 8 horses, 3 kids and a full time job.

                      But it IS a lifestyle. There is no sleeping in if you're going to stall. You can't just go away for a weekend without making arrangements. This is why I think it's smart to meet your neighbors and find a neighbor kid or two to "train" so that you can have some help. It's also smart to look at the local football team and get help putting up hay. Though I've done it by myself a lot, it's a LOT more fun to just direct traffic and have the boys put it up!

                      Dating is kind of hard. I've gone out w/ a few guys who really resented the amount of time and the scheduling required due to me having horses. Even when you just pop out to do the bare minimum it takes time.

                      For awhile, I was working full time during the day, then working for a home health/hospice place nights...taking care of the horses in between. That sucked. Never felt so sleep deprived. But it was still doable.

                      You can do it if you're cool with the lifestyle.

                      One "test" would be--do you see your horse EVERY DAY now? On days when you really don't FEEL like going to the barn, do you go anyway just to check? If not, try that for a few weeks. No matter the weather, no matter how tired you are...go every single day.

                      Also, as for the work--like fence repair, mowing, etc--will you have enough $$ to purchase the tools? At minimum to me you need a tractor. Almost everything else you can hire some help if needed IF you have the $$.

                      I bet you can do it. It's just a big commitment!
                      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                      Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by seabreeze View Post
                        I would say that the ease (or the perceived ease) of solo horsekeeping directly correlates with the amount of disposable income you have. The more money you have to spend on tools, equipment, maintenence, and supplies to make your life easier, the easier it seems to keep the horses. Conversely, when money is very tight and you see projects that need to be completed but don't have the funds to do them, horsekeeping can seem like a great burden.

                        Key to your horsekeeping contentment will be your ability to decide at what level you want to maintain your horsey lifestyle and realistically being able to afford to do that
                        Well, I was going to argue with that statement - I earn a very low 5 figures and that will decrease when I retire - hopefully, next year.

                        Some months it is a pinch to get everything paid on time, but the horse expenses are my #1 Priority.
                        I figure my boys did not ask to live at home so the least I can do is provide regular, good quality food & shelter.

                        But your last paragraph is 1000% (not a typo) True.
                        For me it is worth every penny I don't spend on me.
                        *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


                        • #13
                          I do

                          I have 12 acres, 3 horses, 4 cats, and 2 dogs and a full-time job. I have some trouble riding in the winter as I don't have a ring and weather and lack of light can be difficult. During the summer, I ride before I do anything else. (I've worked out some flex hours in the summer. I come in a little late and take a short lunch) Repairs are my biggest challenge and I don't have a tractor. I hope my neighbor doesn't retire from raising cattle anytime soon as he cuts two fields for hay in the spring and then will bushhog for me another time in the summer. I didn't complain about his cattle getting in my back field all winter as he is now replacing the fenceline and removing the barb wire (I'm paying for some of the supplies) which will mean I have an additional usable pasture next winter. Sometimes is tiring and frustrating but I'm glad I'm out here. Just wish I could afford to put in a ring.
                          Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe


                          • #14
                            12 acres, three horses (well, two horses and a mini donk). I am married, but getting DH to help is like pulling teeth.

                            I have a full-time, very demanding job and am finishing a master's degree. My commute is 90 minutes each way.

                            I do ride less than when I boarded, mostly because I seem to be endlessly mowing and dragging the ring! If I had to do it over again (we built from scratch) I would have had more pasture, less lawn. And I would have sprung for a real tractor instead of a riding mower.

                            There are ways to minimize upkeep:
                            • I have one paddock fenced in lovely five-board oak. It's a PITA, thanks to my beaver disguised as a horse. My back field is on electric tape. It requires minimal upkeep. The horses know better than to get hung up in it.
                            • My horses have a run-in, and I can put up gates to make stalls (one horse is on lay-up now). It's much easier when they can come and go as they please and you don't have to muck more than scooping up the occasional pile of poop.
                            • I feed mostly roundbales. Again, the horses pretty much self feed, except for grain, and their bellies are never empty.
                            • You can hire a lot of things out. I have a couple guys with Bobcats on spped dial who can scrape out a paddock, drop gravel in a gate area, plant a fence post, all for fairly minimal cost. I generally save up the things I want to do for late fall and have them do as much as they can in one visit to maximize the bang for my buck. I also have a dairy farmer next door who will mow and roundbale my pastures for his cows.

                            So, yes, it can be done, with ingenuity. It all depends on what kind of life you want. I do miss the human interaction of being at a boarding barn, but I also love looking out and yelling to my horse from the shower window.

                            Vacations are tough--I have a very dependable friend with whom I swap chores. But it takes co-ordination. It's not like you can just plan at the last second to go away for the weekend. And you have to plan on being there for vet, farrier, dentist, etc. If that's something you already do, no biggie.
                            Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


                            • #15
                              I would not "do it all" to rent a place, but if doing it all allowed me to take advantage of the opportunities available due to the current market, I think that would be worth the extra effort. I did run my farm solo for one year while concurrently having a very demanding job, and it was exhausting (I also have a lengthy commute to work). I have since had a live-in barn manager, and that has helped tremendously. But my property has two houses on it, so the set-up is perfect for that kind of arrangement. If you do go solo, be sure to have back-up help who can cover for you if you need to travel for business, need a break, or get ill or injured.

                              Also look into whether your farrier and vet will still travel to you to care for your horses if you have your own place. Farriers in particular (in this area at least) can be reluctant to come to you unless you have a number of horses. When I only had two I had a much harder time finding people; many expected me to trailer to them. Now we have 5 horses (plus two foals due this month), and it is no problem.
                              Roseknoll Sporthorses


                              • #16
                                Can, have and DO. For 11 years.

                                have done this winter with no water since Dec. 9.

                                The only thing I wish for is a tractor. It's a bitch when I can't get the round bales TO where they need to be. I could buy squares in a normal economy/not a bad hay year, but I can only buy rounds right now, and am pulling loaded tarp way further and more often than I care to.

                                I really could use a tractor for a lot of things.

                                I have, probably three times, had work days where I needed help. Family, a few good friends (problem with farm life is you loose social life. I have neighbors only on one side, and they're not all that fond of my job(s) so I don't ask them for anything. They *were* most excellent when I had lost dogs in a storm a year or so ago.... ) after the Ice Storm, and then for the demolition of my old barn and putting together the first 'barn-in-a-box'... again a couple years ago for demo of the falling-down run-in shed.

                                I did convert buldings to cover-all style because I'd rather put a new cover on every 3-5 years than be dealing with wood--which is hard to do with one set of hands.

                                I LOVE my life. This has been a really hard winter. It didn't help that I wrecked my knee in August, and was just getting strong and comfortable when winter hit. It's been the coldest and most-snow winter in a looong time. Certainly since I've lived here. And so far, I've STILL made it. There's something to be said for the feeling of that. I cannot, not, NOT wait until I get water. A couple more days off, a couple days of digging out the snowpack to get plumbers in there... I'm very close.

                                Even if you include my feed/hay bills (which 7 years out of ten, the horses have paid for themselves--sales/breeding) my monthly expense is about the same as a coworker who just bought a tiny house in the city we work in. Neighbors are practically at arm's reach. Another coworker is shopping and I can't believe how much he's planning to finance. It's terrifying. Yes, I work four jobs altogether... But I can *do* it (barely) on one. I prefer to work a second, different, fun & fulfilling job rather than the $ OT at job #1. But I don't HAVE to. I don't have huge savings. Usually two catastrophic events wipe me out for awhile, but I don't have debt other than the mortgage. Not even a car payment in 2 more months. (yay!)

                                I'm rambling now, and prolly TMI. Just saying, OF COURSE it can be done. And while it takes a certain personality, I think... for me there is nowhere on earth I'd rather be. (well, maybe a little closer to my teacher & my family--but with the same land/view... and a tractor. )
                                InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                                Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


                                • #17
                                  It's a lifestyle issue as so many have said.

                                  I have had my farm (37 acres) for over 20 years, and live there alone. Right now, I have five horses in the barn (1 boarder, 4 of my own) with room for 4 more. I breed miniature donkeys and have six currently. All of my equines are stabled overnight in the winter, and the horses are stabled during the day in the summer.

                                  Until about 6 years ago, I also had about 20 cows, and ran a small breeding and freezer beef operation.

                                  I have 2 dogs, and a number of cats - working and ornamental.

                                  I work full time, and coach 4 - 6 hours a week.

                                  I had a dressage ring professionally built, and ride almost daily, except for the winter (no indoor, lots of snow). I trailer out for lessons myself, biweekly in the summer, and show when time permits.

                                  I don't have any regular help - although I do have a local kid who mucks for me occasionally and my boarder has been a great help if I get sick etc.

                                  To do it alone, you need to develop good support systems - find local people (plumber, farmer, hay help etc) to do things that you cannot do. Make friends with your neighbours - country folk are usually glad to help you out if you reciprocate. I don't have a tractor, so I rely on hiring my neighbours a few times a year.

                                  It helps if your job allows you some flexibility.

                                  You don't have to be wealthy, but just keep remembering that Rome wasn't built in a day!

                                  It takes a long time to get everything working well, and to not feel overwhelmed. I'm sure many people have tips on how to make the single farm life work well, when you are employed outside the farm. Maybe a subject for another thread...


                                  • Original Poster

                                    wow...thanks for the responses...I've got to run soon to get to the barn so did not read in depth everything, but here are some of the answers to your comments...

                                    I do have my own truck and trailer which at the moment has not been used much but typically I trailer to one of my trainers once a week during show season. Currently, I lease a barn and paddock and the bo feeds for me in the mornings...I supply all hay and feed and am there every night plus twice on weekends to do stalls and ride one horse. I have a 2 year old that I'm starting to work with now on the ground and she will get get backed lightly later this year so next year I will have two to ride.

                                    Currently, I often ride alone as the only other person there doesn't ride consistently and she really won't go out on the trails so I've found a neighbor to go out with. I'm solo 95% of the time riding wise, but the BO is on the property and keeps an eye out when I'm riding which is comforting in case something happens...I also help with the fencing when I can but am fortunate as I have a built in extra hand in the bo...he drags the ring and my field when asked...and will help me put hay up if I get a delivery...so very fortunate.

                                    I don't think riding alone will be too much of an issue as long as someone can see me...so I'd probably get a roommate or feel more comfortable in a house where the neighbors were visible to my ring/barn...or house for that matter. I don't want to be isolated.

                                    My job is very flexible...I can go in early or late and right now I'm leaving work around 3ish...a bad day would be 4 or 5...my farrier is currently coming to just me and only does my two, as does my vet. Both places would be workable for both of them...

                                    Also, my dressage trainer is down the street from this barn. About a 5 min. haul away and they are building an indoor...

                                    The biggest issue on this place is price...it will not appraise for what she wants and the deal would be dead in the water if it came in low...so renting is it for this place right now...location wise it is actually not too far out, but far enough that going out late would alter my nights out as I'd have to be extra careful on how late or how much I drank - lol....I'm not a big drinker now, but hate driving home late at night...thats ok though...I'm ready for a change I think...

                                    I am waiting for another property to foreclose that was on the market earlier this year...no barn, newer house...great location, partially fenced with a run in shed and about a 1/2 mile from an indoor...love, love, love that location and lots of neighbors to ride with and at least one ring available to borrow....

                                    I think if I'm patient a house will come available to buy, but darn, this setup is about perfect for me...
                                    For things to do in Loudoun County, visit: www.365thingstodoloudoun.com


                                    • #19
                                      Currently live by myself on a 450 acre farm (farm about 40 acres of it the rest woods and trails). I work full time. I have 5 pasture boarders owned by friends and a few of my own. (Warning when you own your own farm you tend to collect.) I ride 3-7 times a week. It can be alot of work. I inherited part of the farm and family owns the rest. Up keep is a very expensive part of owning the farm. There always seems to be something that needs to be done. (Fencing, painting, driveway maintainance, loading hay, buying feed, barn repair, etc)
                                      I work full time but it is only a 20 minute commute. I also have family near by to help with the big items when needed.


                                      • #20
                                        I have three horses (two in work) and two dogs and 12 acres and have looked after the horses by myself for about 6 years now. Prior to that I worked in big barns with 100+ horses and lots of people, and an indoor arena and arenas with lights.

                                        Good things about horses at home:
                                        • you can do things your way
                                        • no-one 'borrows' your stuff
                                        • your horses don't get so many viruses from horses entering the yard
                                        • your 'herd' is your herd and they don't get injured as new horses come and go
                                        • there's no-one to criticise how you do things
                                        • if you want to ride/feed at odd times, that's fine

                                        Generally I spend more time with my horses and do more 'stupid' stuff, messing around with them in the field than I did when i was running around looking after other people's horses.

                                        On the less good side:
                                        • I get up at quarter of five in the morning to get ridden/cleaned/dogs walked by the time I have to go to work. Yup, that's riding in the dark for EIGHT months of the year.
                                        • I can only jump/school/canter at the weekends (cantering in the dark is not advisable )
                                        • I only jump what the horses won't knock down as with no-one to help me it gets a bit boring jumping, knocking fence, getting off, adjusting fence, getting on, trot, canter, jump, knock etc.
                                        • That means the competing I used to do doesn't really happen anymore.
                                        • Going to shows alone, even if you're meeting friends there, isn't as fun as when you are at a big barn and travel together.
                                        • Getting ready to go to a show alone isn't much fun either as you have to have everything for all three horses done for when you get back, you have to ensure all the horses you leave at home are going to be safe etc etc.

                                        At this time of year I am utterly, utterly fed up... In fact, my horses are having a week off this week - mainly because I'm having to give one a course of antibiotics and cleaning up an infection which leaves me even shorter on time but also because it's just that time of year where I am exhausted. I know it will soon get better. This year's even worse as my job is in financial services (joy!!) to say it's stressful would be an understatement...

                                        I am lucky because I've found some great help for when I'm working away from home or on holiday with someone I trust totally. I would be stuck without her. Remember also to budget for times you are injured. A few years ago I hurt my arm - I couldn't even dress myself, never mind use a muck fork - had I tried to get it fixed initially, it would have been fine, but I carried on until it cost me a fortune - both in getting it fixed and getting someone to do all my jobs - it's only when something like that happens and you pay someone by the hour that you realise how much time horses take up when they're at home.

                                        On balance though, I love having them at home. I would never by really comfortable having my horses cared for by someone else. It is different, I don't get to compete as much as I would have liked to, sometimes I wonder if I'm doing the right thing when I'm training and have no-one to check with but cost wise I could never afford all three to be at a barn and they are such a happy herd I couldn't imagine it any other way.

                                        I have often considered having a boarder or two to help contribute to the cost and share travel etc with but because of my location that isn't really viable.

                                        I do have a limited social life though as I am tired in the evenings - also, I'm half american and could live in the states as I am a US citizen. I'd like to live in the states, at least for a while - what's stopping me? My 26 year old herd leader who could never make the trip, who is happy and healthy but would hate 'his' herd to leave him. In reality, I probably couldn't afford to take the other two horses and my dogs, so England it is! I could earn more if I worked in London - what's stopping me? Yup, my herd (and dogs).

                                        If I was you, I'd buy... on balance owning is worth every $$, it sounds like you could maybe have a boarder or two to help with the cost and maybe the barn work too, I'm busy at work and have people around me all day and by nature I'm quite introvert so love to come home and potter around, but if you're strongly extrovert and like to have a lot of people around, maybe not...

                                        Good luck, let us know what you do.