When we purchased this property we loved nearly everything about it. Except the barn. It is the little old barn that the previous owner kept his tractor parked in. It wasn’t really safe for horses to be “in”. And the roof was too leaky to really store critter food in safely. It was so-so for hanging horse gear in. But that was it. I really just wanted to tear it down and start over. Then I learned that some times (but not always) farming is about making do with what you have. With that in mind I was able to look at the existing barn in a new light.
As I looked for a picture of just the barn I realized that the barn is never in the foreground…at best it is a small dot in the background. UGLY! So here is a pic with some of the work already started.
Why make the ugly barn bigger?
I now have lots of critters on the property that have babies from time to time. Currently I have a mama donkey that is due in another few months. I have a big mama pig that is due in another month or so. And four more mama pigs that are due in another couple of months. And we are entering winter. I don’t want to be caught with newborns on the ground in the middle of a fresh snow (snow does happen here) or at least when we get the next freezing temps. The goal of this expansion is to give me an “oh shit” area to quickly relocate delicate critters too.
It will also be my hospital facility when critters need care. Up to this point when we have had a sick piglet we always bring it into the house. While that works it doesn’t make the farmers wife terribly excited.
And I am hoping to move my brooding operation out of my gym and into the barn. We intend to ramp up our broiler production to the point that we will almost always have chicks in the brooders and a couple tractors worth of chickens out in the field. Overall, just trying to build a barn that can be used for barn type tasks instead of all the other location on the property being used for those tasks.
What sort of expansion is planned?
We are currently planning on expanding the barn north all the way to the gate that opens into the back pasture. This is about 20 feet or so. And we will cover the entire length of the current barn. This will give us 600sq/ft or so additional space. I plan to keep the current space as is inside the barn in the middle where we currently store the tack and the feed. And will wrap the other two open areas around into the new area. This will create two large stalls with an 8’ gate in the middle so I can open the area into one large space. Then we will put down some cement and combine the feed and tack area into one big actual room for storing both feed and tack.
We also intend to extend the low roof over this new area. This has meant that I needed to dig out about 12-18” of soil from the floor so that a horse will have enough room to walk around on the low side (though the low side will be hog paneled for piggers mostly). Then I will add a gutter and we will start to catch all the rain off of the huge roof surface area into a set of barrels (or IBCs) to water the animals from.
In the future I will do something similar on the other side but more 10x50 stalls specifically for horses.
And once that is done we will make the whole thing another 16’ longer giving us additional roof area, more stalls, and just more room in general.
Will it still be ugly?
The plan is no! Currently the roof is a series of what ever was laying around with a few patch panels scattered about for good measure. The siding is a mix of sheet metal, plywood, MDF, and what ever was laying around. And the internal structure is round poles with 4x4’s stacked on top, nails here, bolts there. Broken cross members with boards holding the break together. WOW.
As we move things around I will shoot for a more consistent look with metal siding. I intend to slowly replace the entire roof. And we will attempt to make crooked things straight. Then we will give it a coat of paint with black trim and a dark red surface area to create something a bit more traditional looking. The roofing will stay metal as is. Inside I will paint it white to reuse as much light as we can and to hide some of the ugly dark corners here and there.
What we have done so far
We tied up some strings to mark the general area we intended to work in. Then we sunk some poles for the roof supports.
We pulled some panels from the round pen to block the horses out of our work area.
And then we started to dismantle the current fence. No – he is not drunk!
Thankfully it started to rain a bit so we got as much hole digging done as possible.
Lots of this has been done during night time hours after I get home from work. With the power out at the barn, thank goodness we have had the generator and some mobile work lights.
Then we really got started with excavating the dirt from the high side of the slope. We thought it would be smart to just load it into the truck and reuse this dirt for the second green house that we are prepping for.
But when we went to dump our first big load I got the truck stuck in some serious muck turning in to back up and dump the load. So stuck that it took me almost all of the next day to get it unstuck.
The floor boards and frame were sitting on the ground.
Had to dig it out and jack it up to get it free again.
But since then we have stuck to filling holes in the roads that are not on the other side of a boggy rained out field.
We started to remove the existing siding to open up the stall areas inside the barns.
And removed the 2x4’s holding up that siding.
And more excavating.
Followed by more post settings.
Then we had a foot seeking a religious experience. Logan was carrying over some boards to start putting up the fence around this new area. He stepped on a nail that went all the way through his foot. His foot is now HOLeY.
You can even see his blood painted on the board just for fun.
We were finally getting to a point at least on the perimeter where the ground was 4’ down from where the top of the fence would be.
We were able to get the fence boards installed where the pasture entrance is so that we could put the round pen back together.
Last night we were able to get the top rail up to keep the wandering gardeners (horses) out of the work area.
Then we turned to getting some work done inside. We started installing the front to one of the new stalls. We dug in another post to hang the door from.
Then we dug the ground down under where the fence boards would be going.
Installed the fence boards.
Drilled a couple of holes for door hinges. I like to start the hole with a 3/4” spade bit which is bigger than the width the of the shaft of the hinge. Then finish it with a 1/2” hole which is smaller than the hinge shaft. This allows for an easy start but snug fit.
Then Drake spun the hinges into place as best as he could (then I finished up).
Keep in mind that when gating horses, pigs, or any other critter that knows how to lift doors, you need to face the top hinge down and the bottom hinge up. This locks the door in place.
We meant to get the gate installed but didn’t have the right wrench handy so we called it a night.
More to come later.