The barn where I board used to have about 20 horses on the property that took tourists out on rides to the beach. When that business closed, the barn sat for a while with a few horses until eventually they were down to one. When I came, the barn hadn’t been a boarding barn in a few years, and parts of the pasture were overgrown and some minor repairs needed to be done. Since moving Baron here 9 months ago, I’ve been slowly doing little projects to get the barn and pastures back into tip top shape. We currently have 3 horses and my donkey, and we’re expecting at least 2 more this fall. With more horses coming, I need to get a move on and get some projects done!
My first order of business when moving in was to clear out trees that had grown up in the pastures. These trees are called rattleboxes, because their seed pods dry out and rattle in the wind. They aren’t very big, and because the sand is so loose, sometimes I can yank them out of the ground by hand. I have to dig the bigger ones out with a shovel. I cleared two of the paddocks when I first came, and now I’m working on clearing another corner of the pasture.
There is actually a ton of good grass under all those trees, but the horses can’t get to it. I’m ripping out the trees and creating a nice grazing area. Most of the pasture is sand with very little grass (although I’m trying to get it to grow), so this grassy area is very enticing for the horses.
My goal is to have most of the pasture covered in grass. I’m making some progress, with some green patches sprouting up and spreading out. The more grass they have, the less hay I have to buy! Keeping horses on small acreage is always tricky, because they eat or trample the grass before it has a chance to get rooted and take over. I will always have some sandy areas, and that’s okay because the sand is great for their feet.
The next project is to clear out some stalls to make room for more horses. They only come in to their stalls to eat, but it’s great for each horse to have its own stall to eat in peace. Sometimes they come inside in really bad weather as well, so I want each horse to have a stall. For the past few years, the owners have used the barn for storage. I need to consolidate their stuff into one or two stalls to free up room for horses. It’s dirty, dusty work, but it’s very rewarding and it makes the barn feel like a real boarding barn again.
My third project is to transform this little shed into a feed room. Currently our feed room is in a stall, but we need the stall for a horse. The doors of the shed blew off in a hurricane, but I figure I can rig something up. I can store square bales in the back and have feed bins and buckets toward the front. First, I have to clear out and organize the stuff that’s in there now- tools, fencing supplies, feed buckets, etc…
It’s a lot of work, but I love a project. It’s a beautiful barn, it just needs some sprucing up to get it back to where it was a few years ago. It’s very rewarding to see it used and loved by horses and their people!