Since Bob is gone so much for work and so tired when he is home, I rely on his two-week vacation every August for tackling the big stuff. Nope. His vacations are not spent traveling to some exotic locale, sipping on IPAs by the side of a pool. They are spent here moving the farm dream forward, poor guy.
This summer’s must-do was more progress on the horse barn which is still also a hay barn. (Yes, I know how dangerous that is, but we do things as we can afford to around here.) The south wall was already decrepit when we got this place as you can see in the picture below from 2012 (with a then quite-young Emma on the swing). And the huge doors were already inoperable:
Over the years and with all the weather that hits that south side of the barn, it only got worse. And since that’s where we store our hay (and it’s a lot of hay: we got 25 tons off the field this year), having a south wall that lets in wind and rain means hay that rots (or catches on fire).
We wanted to tackle the project but there’s always something that’s a higher priority around here. Our to-do list is an ever-changing one as we adapt to whatever the current emergency is. Cows got out? Fix the fence. Greenhouse blew apart? Rebuild the greenhouse. Time to put cows out on new pasture? Install new fence. And so on and so on.
So back to my story: August 2022 would be the vacation of the south wall and Bob’s best friend Dilsy was scheduled to visit for two days during that time so perfect! We bought all the materials and rented scaffolding and started on the demo before Dilsy arrived.
You can see in the picture above how much the door had deteriorated in 10 years and all of our sorry efforts to try and protect the hay. Ugh, it’s embarrassing to look at!
Redoing the door and wall meant we could resize the doors. This won’t always double as a hay barn. Our plan is to have two more horse stalls on this side so we can board two horses in the future. The old doors were monstrous. Our new door is manageable. It’s just big enough to back the truck in should we need to.
Thankfully we got some good input from our neighbor Jerry who suggested putting in cement footers for the wall and door. That also helped with framing the new door because we had to install a post for it. And it was a new experience: We hadn’t built footers and put in concrete before. We are always learning around here!
At the end of each work day, we’d hang Tyvek to protect the hay inside. We were lucky to have a huge roll of it from an earlier project (probably our HOUSE) so it didn’t cost us anything and it worked well.
We have been piecemeal working on the barn and when we redid the horse stalls in 2020, we went with a pretty board and batten. But that was not practical at all for this massive area so we went with metal. That was also a new experience, but with a team of three, we went pretty quickly, between measuring, cutting and installing.
Now, doesn’t that look better! But figuring out how to build and hang the door was a challenge: Again, more learning. Thank goodness for YouTube, sheesh. Later our neighbor Jerry hung a light outside and we added a handle as well as a stopper (catch?) so the door won’t swing with all of our wind.
And when the rain returned, it was WONDERFUL not to have to worry about the hay! (Well, I worry a little. We have roof tiles to fix so we do have leaks.)
What’s next? To Bob’s left is the area that we are going to build out as the tack room. We redid that part of the wall a few years ago, but the wood did not hold up to the weather. So we will make a door in it and add on for the tack room (and I will finally have DRY leather in the winter and not have to clean mold off my tack!). We will add a lean-to over this new door area because the weather is still brutal and we want even more protection. Then we will wrap around to the west side of the barn and start rebuilding that. We are hoping Dilsy will be here for another visit to help, and I am hoping that we are ready to build that west wall with stall doors opening out to runs. As Bob says, “When is enough enough??” Well, with my farm dreaming, probably never. 🙂