We also had a game of "water tank heater roulette" this morning - we've had one iffy tank heater for a bit and it finally conked out. (The geldings were being playful one day last week and pulled their heater out of the tank - it may have been damaged in the process.) We shifted some things around and every tank has a heater that works, although Charisma, who doesn't mind cold water, has a small floater that will keep at least the top part of her tank open. My (long-suffering) husband is on the search for two replacement heaters - we use the large circular sinking heaters - as our local feed store had none in stock.
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To deal with the winter blahs, I've been having fun designing, and drawing, the "barn of my dreams". I doubt I'll get it - I'm getting a bit old to take that all on, and it would be very expensive. But I can still dream! Yesterday morning, I sketched out the basic plan, and then my older daughter and I discussed it at lunch - it was fun and she had her own additions.
So, say you have 12 or so horses (that's the size of our existing barn), and our property, which is about 15-20 acres. And assume there's nothing on the property, no barn or outbuildings or fences, so you can start from scratch.
Now, for the barn itself - it's not fancy - no brick, or stone, or elaborate stuff - this is a barn designed for horses, not people. A nice steel Morton barn would be nice, with a center aisle (I'm fond of shed row barns but they're not ideal in our climate.). All the horses would be able to see their neighbors - vertical bars between stalls, and the feel would be airy and open. The horses would have V stall guards so they could stick their heads out, and the barn aisle would be extra wide and kept clear of tack trunks and equipment. I considered but rejected dutch doors to the outside - with the weather there'd be a lot of drafts, and getting outside doors open with snow and ice would be a problem. There would be a nice big tack room at the front, a separate feed room, a small heated office (the rest of the barn would be unheated for equine health) and a wash stall with cold and hot running water. The barn would have excellent ventilation (soffits and fans) and light. Every horse would have a large sliding window to the outside with a screen for summer and cross-ventilation. Stalls would a minimum 12x12, but preferably 12x15.
All hay and equipment storage would be in a separate building next to the barn, for reduction of dust and fire risk. There would be a large steel indoor arena with large windows at the top under the roof, and excellent footing. The sides of the indoor would have rooflines that extended outwards to form sheltered overhangs for the outside areas (dry lots) on either side. All gates would be properly braced and hung so opening and closing would be a cinch, and all gates would be 12' wide to facilitate equipment access.
The barn would have a cross-aisle that opened directly on each end into one-acre or so pastures on each side of the barn - these would make use of the shed rows created by the extended roofs of the indoor in inclement weather. These would serve as winter dry lots, and would also provide direct access to the pastures. Five or so pastures, each about one acre, would open out of each dry lot, and would be used in rotational grazing - smaller pastures work best for this. The exterior fencing would probably be 4-board wood, with electric tape used to subdivide the separate pastures, to make mowing easier. Since, when the horses were on pasture, all that would be needed would be to turn them out directly into the dry lot, leaving the gate to the correct pasture open, there would only need to be two outdoor water tanks, immediately adjacent to the barn to make water and electric line access as easy as could be.
The barn and indoor would be located at the center of the property, not the front, to make it possible to have pastures radiating out from the dry lots in all directions, again to facilitate turn out. Having to plow the driveway when it snowed would be outweighed by the labor savings involved in easy turnout and bring in. Also, the property would be such (ours is) that the highest point was in the center, allowing for proper drainage around the barn and from the dry lots - no pooling or ponding water in parking lot or dry lots. If there were a house, I see a small cape or cottage style house - nothing fancy.
The outdoor arena would have excellent drainage and footing, would be large, and could be along one side of the driveway into the property. The arena would be equipped with a wonderful and colorful assortment of jumps, as well as dressage letters (or the dressage letters could be in the indoor - my daughter says she doesn't want to have to move the jumps!). On the other side would be a large round pen, built with large wooden boards with little space between, for equine safety, and at least 6' tall - and of course it would have excellent footing. Scattered through a number of the pastures would be an assortment of cross country fences, including banks, logs and other natural obstacles.
All the pastures would have some natural shade - large individual trees or groves of trees. I can just see it - rolling pastures, shade trees, beautiful horses grazing.
Here's a rough sketch of the layout:
A girl can dream, can't she? Enjoy your January day, and may spring come soon!