Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter Barn: the guided tour

I took my iGadget out to the barn with me last week.  Whaddaya know, the thing takes pictures...

I like this picture because it tells so much about how I'm running our place this winter.  If you look to the right of the horses, you can see the beginnings of a path to that plank-gate in the background.  I push the wheelbarrow over to the fence, lower the planks, and shove the barrow to the new manure pile, which is just out of the picture to the right.  Also, I think my horses are cute.

For years we piled the manure in the corral, about 10 ft away from the barn door.  It was convenient, especially when the snow is deep, but it made for a giant sucking wet mess of mud in that half of the corral.  This is close to where I tie my horses to tack up for a ride.  They'd sink up to the fetlocks. Nasty. This year I decided to pile it on the other side of the fence, on the old liquid manure tank.  It'll be easy to scoop it up and move it in the spring.  However, it's three times the journey to get the crap out of the barn now.  Oh well.  I'm young and strong, right?  Right?

Let's go into the barn.  Because it's all old cattle stable, then used as pig stabling, our barn isn't the most perfect horse set-up.  We use what we have.  There are two aisles; one at the back to let the horses into their stalls, one for us to go in.  This is the People Aisle!

Here are a few tools hanging on the wall, the cat's bowls, and the hay.  And the hole in the wall.  Don't ask.  At the very far end, there's a chute in the ceiling where I throw the hay down.  I have to first go up to the hay mow, waaaay up, throw the hay down the the main floor, then down this chute.  I put down 4 or 5 bales at once so I don't have to go up there too often.

Here's Phoenix's stall.  I took this picture from the back aisle.  Across from his stall you can see the tack room door, with photocopies of my certificates taped to it.  Classy eh?

I often consider getting rid of the back aisle to make the stalls bigger, moving the wall to make that aisle twice as wide, and just having one barn door.

The problem is that three of the four stalls have this rock-solid cement trough at the front, with metal bars on top. It would be a long expensive day with a rented jackhammer.  And I don't know how long I'll be here, so is it worth spending the money???  These will suit my dad's needs just fine, so he has no reason to change them.  I do my best to make it work.

Keeping an old barn clean is not easy.  There might be spiders older than me out there.  I make them homeless.  I don't feel bad about it.  I love this barn even though it's not sparkly and fancy.  I'm trying to enhance the rustic feel but worry that it just looks dusty.  In summer I'm outside, riding, but in winter I pick a new spot to clean up each day.

Again from the back aisle, this stall holds the feed and bedding, stall cleaning tools, and cat den!  

Across the other aisle I hung up the things I use often and want to have at hand easily.

It's a bucket scrubber, never-know-when-you-need-it dustpan, scissors for cutting baler twine if I'm not strong enough to yank the strings off the bales, indispensable broom, extra lead rope and chain and a pair of little chaps I found.

Oh look, they guys are all curled up in their cat den.  When it gets really cold, I'll drape a sheet over it to keep their body heat in.

Aren't Larry and Moe adorable?  They're good little barn cats.  Good hunters and wonderful cuddlers!

Here's another tool I can't work without: the wheelbarrow!

If we open that tack room door, we're in the open part of the barn.  I got these pegboards from the Little Valley.  (I miss that place, and the horses, and I really miss the people!!) 
Here's my big double saddle rack and plastic drawers full of leg wraps.

These temporary walls give a nice visual boundary without cutting off all the light from the east windows.  I can still get over to the other wall to get water.  (And yes, we got the pipe thawed!!)

Turn to the left; this is my big shelf with my grooming tools, first aid, and trunks full of bits and saddle blankets and other necessaries.

Beside that, another saddle rack and my cool new hooded plaid flannel jacket!  Right now I'm using an old sheet for a saddle cover.  I plan to sew up some nicer covers over the winter.

I've got five saddles but only two are used regularly.  In this pic you can see my daughter's english saddle under the yellow sheet.  The pony saddle is under the blue striped blanket.  Those trunks are full of helmets and gloves and boots.

Finally my Wall O Bridles.  I think I'm up to something ridiculous like three for each horse.  I've got a sidepull, a mechanical hackamore, two eggbutt snaffles, training jointed curbs, and I do use them all.  I switch them up to keep the horses on their toes, haha.  Each one has a different purpose.  

My old man said one day, "You've got a lot of gear.  You should hold an auction sale and make some money."

Yeah, no.  It's taken me decades of scrounging and bargain hunting to work up this collection.  Now that I've got a good assortment of tack, I'm looking out for lesson props.  Every barrel, pylon and pole is potentially useful, and luckily this place is good pickings for free equipment!

I don't ride as much in winter.  Our corral freezes into ice and I don't ride on ice.  Soon, when we've got a foot of snow packed over it, I'll saddle up again.  Winter is the time I like to catch up on barn tidying and fixing up.  Dad's got plans for this barn including a south facing open shed; I'll show pics when it's done.  

My evening chores would really only need to take about 15 minutes, but I usually have to lean on a stall front to listen to the hay chewing.  That's how I measure my horse craziness.  No matter how old I am or how many pieces of paper on my tack room door, I love horses so much, even watching them eat is pure joy.


Sydney said...

I bet the house is not that tidy! Hahaha I am the exact same way. Everything of mine is in the exact place it should be in the barn. Inside the house...hehehehe.

For saddle covers etc try www.suitability.com and other easy to sew things.

As for tips and tricks of props when wally mart has their boxing day sale, or maybe the day after if your not totally insane, christmas tree stands make excellent jump standards. Just pop in a 4X4 and drill some holes for jump cups. You can usually get the tree stands for 4$ each or go garbage picking. Better than 50$ each standards.

Rocky Mountain Yankee said...

I think your set up is great! It is way better than my setup here in suburbia where horses aren't allowed. I love old barns. We were driving through Lancaster county, PA a couple of weekends ago and I really wanted to stop and go through some of the barns there.

lopinon4 said...

OMG, I love your setup! Very practical, and full of love. I'm jealous. I board my horse.

Heidi the Hick said...

You know my house isn't that tidy!!!

It's so easy in a barn... just sweep everything out the door.

I aspire to being a good housekeeper too but I confuse easily. I'm getting better. Maybe I should imagine I'm in the barn when I'm cleaning the house.

And even though there are things I find less than perfect in the barn, I'm thankful to have a barn. After almost two decades of living in the burbs and seeing the horses at the parental homestead on weekends and holidays, I've got them in my backyard. I love it.

And I do prefer old barns, even with all their little imperfections and impracticalities. They are all unique!

Four Dinners said...

I have never ever ever ever ever seen such a neat and tidy stables.

Even more importantly I have a message for you.

Maximus Spittimus of http://maximusspittimus.blogspot.com has asked me to say he is very impressed that the stable has cat dens.

Four Dinners
Aide de Campe to
Maximus Spittimus

Paul Tee said...

Barn? House?

Barn tidy, house not so. Why should that be such a mystery? Horses stay in stalls, do not mess with the tack room or utility area.

The house? The kids and other adults are all over it.

Horses never go into the bedroom/bathroom and make a mess of it. Who left the towel on the living room floor? Who put the coffee cup on the DVD player? Just try to get someone to admit to it.

Who spilled the cat litter...? (Sorry, must have been the dog. Bad dog!)

Who left stubble in the washroom sink...? Damn, that must have been me...

RuckusButt said...

I think your barn is the perfect blend of clean and tidy with rustic charm! Love it.

I just went back and read newer comments on the "Let's run" pug post. I just wanted to say that my comment was all in fun too -- both with respect to dogs and snow. Paul, I knew you meant no harm too, I was just teasing. And that is a very interesting history you gave. Wow. I wonder if tracking down those bloodlines is possible? Myself, I have a Plott hound who I think is a good balance between working dog and companion. A fierce hunter of rabbit and deer...but when she gets worried she hides behind me, lol!

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.