Hi everyone! This is the most exciting time for us, because our barn is finally going up – and that means farm animals are on their way! The process of choosing a barn was a long one. I quickly realized that my original sketches and plans were going to have to get trimmed down a bit in order to stay within budget. Goodbye to the second story yoga loft space. It just wasn’t practical at this time. Having gone through the process, I would recommend making a list of what needs your barn has to satisfy. For us, most importantly it meant that we needed a run-in shed that the horses could access, plus the ability to make temporary stalls in case of an injury and the horse needs stall rest.
My list looked like this:
- 24ft x12 ft run in shed
- flexibility to make temporary stalls if needed
- lots of ventilation
- storage area
- tack room that was insulated and space for sink and mini fridge to store medicines etc.
- large enough door openings so we could store a tractor in there if we wanted to
- lots of light coming in on the south facing side
- protection from winter winds coming from north and west
- located on high ground
Basically, when it came down to it, the most important thing for me was flexibility, flexibility, flexibility! I have no idea what animals might call our barn home. So I wanted the space we built to accommodate a few different arrangements. I started off thinking of a center aisle barn design, with hay storage above. But that was really more than we needed and after researching the pros and cons of storing hay in the loft, I decided to just have a separate hay shed next to the barn. This would help to reduce the dust and chance of fire in the barn. We ended up whittling down the design to a very basic 24ft x 48ft three-sided shelter. It has an enclosed tack room, as well as a sheltered grooming area for vet visits or really cold days when we can take advantage of some heat lamps!
Here is the design that we finally came up with:
We situated the open side facing east. The run-in area is 20ft wide by 24ft deep. This allows us to section off the front half with horse gates, and create two 12×10 stalls if need be. We could also use those “stalls” to house goats or another animal if we wanted to. Or I could move the gates closer to the dutch doors and make an 8ftx10ft milking parlor if I wanted to – lots of possibilities! The dutch doors on that side could be their own entrance. The single dutch door located on the north side, was put in for added ventilation during the summer months as well as to allow a horse to escape if they are being bullied inside the shelter. The single slider on the south facing side will be open in good weather and allow lots of light into the barn.
During the cold and windy weather, we will close all the doors and turn on our heat lamps when we are working with the animals inside. There are spots for two grooming stations under shelter from rain/wind.
The double sliding doors open into a storage area of about 8ft x 12 ft, – good for storing a few days worth of hay, the wheelbarrow, buckets, food bins, etc. Plus there is plenty of storage along the tack room wall in that hallway space. I thought I could also store my mower inside these double sliders.
Look at how quickly the barn went up. FOUR days!
Windows were something I thought hard about. I love natural light. In our home, I drove my husband and crazy by insisting on extra windows all around the house. It’s really important to me. So, at the very last minute, I added a window on the back of the barn. It was an 18-foot long section of wall, and I debated for a long time over whether it was worth it to add another window there. One option could have been sidelights. Those are plastic panels that they can put up that let light in, but are not transparent. We could have done a 2ft tall sidelight that ran the entire length of that wall – and it wouldn’t have been any more expensive than a window. But, I thought of myself inside that space and decided I didn’t like looking at a plastic panel, I’d want to see the green grass and the blue sky. So I snuck a window in that wall. I’m so glad I did! Not only does it help the aesthetics of the barn, but it brightens up the grooming space inside.
Another thing that I never thought about before was the height at which the windows were to be installed. When I got the first drawings from the barn builders, the window was at a different height than the window in the sliding door. Also, the slider would cover most of the window when it was open. (These are things that the builder didn’t care to point out, it’s up to the customer to make sure they think through everything carefully!)
I thought that would look really odd, because when the door was open (hopefully most of the time) the two windows would be next to each other and sitting one higher, one lower. I don’t know. Everyone has their own preference. Perhaps I over think these little details. Truth be told, I’ve been told that many times! But, I had a long conversation [read, endless debate where I argued both sides until my family was utterly exhausted by me] and decided to change the window height so that all the windows sat at 52″ above the ground. It was slightly higher than their normal window install, but I thought it would let in more light that way, be consistent with the window in the door, and everyone in my family is tall anyway!
We ended up going with a metal pole barn, because the price was right. (Even when I compared them to modular barns.) I did upgrade from the metal sliders to the wooden ones with windows. They are made of T1.11 plywood, so they are rather light to open and close. After construction, I realized I made a mistake by not including gutters, so those are going up soon. We had so much rain this weekend, and the water was pouring down all around the barn – not good. I plan to extend the downspouts and trench them to daylight, further from the barn.
The barn floor is just a dirt floor. That works for us at this time. Our mare, Ellie, is currently boarded where she lives in a run-in shed with a dirt floor and it works perfectly. It’s easy to scoop and keep clean, it drains well and stays dry – so I’m hoping to do the same here.
I am really pleased with how the barn turned out. Stay tuned for more posts when the dry lot footing is finished and the tack room is set up!