Monday, March 24, 2008

A Farm of Your Own - Part 3

A Farm of Your Own – Part 3

A Few More Items

There are a few more things to be on the lookout for when purchasing a farm. Billie from camera-obscura suggested searching out if there are water lines going to the paddocks. This is a very good observation that I completely forgot about. Dragging water buckets and connected hoses around the farm is a huge inconvenience. We have heated automatic waterers in three of our paddocks but the furthest one in the back has none, so in the summer when the girls lived outside, I loaded up the mule with many 5-gallon jugs to fill the trough. Not a lot of fun, but horses need fresh water almost everyday. Mrs. Mom informed us about cement board fencing that is being used in her area in Southland. Do you know anyone who has this type of fencing; let us know how they like it and if it would be suitable for a colder climate. Thanks to everyone who left a comment, we welcome everyone’s opinions and their helpful suggestions.

Searching for ‘The Area’

Once you are armed with sufficient information concerning what you want included in your farm it is time to decide what area will work best for you.

Naturally, you will want to be close enough to commute to work if you already have a job. Gas prices being what they are these days will likely contribute to your decision. Perhaps your preference is to live on the farm and work from there, if that is the case, make it as simple and convenient for everyone involved in this venture.

Before you can make a definite decision on the area your farm is to be located, do some research on the veterinarians in your preferred area. Amelia commented on the fact there are no vets within 50 miles of her, and the nearest vets cannot find assistants willing to travel. Not having a vet within a reasonable distance will make emergency treatment almost impossible. Therefore, if you are not capable of handling a situation on your own (think colic, wounds needing sutures, tendon/ligament injuries, broken bones, etc.), or at least getting it under control until the vet arrives, you need to rethink your farm’s location. This scenario also applies to farriers in rural areas, there is sometimes such a shortage of farriers that it could be considered a humane issue. Horses who cannot be shod and those who must go an extremely long time without being trimmed add the risk of injury, lameness, etc. as a result of improper care. Consequently, make sure there is a good farrier within range or if you are desperate to have your horses on a schedule, be prepared to go to school and learn to do it properly yourself. These reasons alone would be a serious point to consider the further you go from ‘horsey’ areas, you must do the legwork where horse care providers are concerned.

Check out the local hay, feed and shavings suppliers and their delivery policies. We buy our feed from a local Agway that is no more than five minutes from us, they require a $45.00 delivery fee, and we pick it up at the store to save the fee.

Decide beforehand if you will continue taking lessons from your current trainer or if you are willing to switch to another. Ask if they will come to you or if you can trailer in. If trail riding is your ultimate goal, make sure there are trails close enough to the farm area for you to access easily by horseback or trailer. Do you still compete; the distance you are willing to travel to “local” shows could be a factor in your decision.

Only you know what your goals are for your horses and yourself. The area you choose should reflect your interests and goals, as you will likely be there for a long time. However, even before you buy a farm, you must also think of resale value. Buying a farm in a horsey area and reselling, may not be difficult as there is always someone looking for a place to house his or her horses. The dwindling land in this country and further restrictions on what can and cannot be used as agricultural land may make reselling a profitable option in the right area. On the other hand, maybe not, you never know how the economic situation may change in any given year, so reselling could be a long time in the coming. One other point to consider and research is the zoning laws of the particular area you have chosen. Could someone buy the farm or vacant land next to you and develop it into tract homes, build a factory or a shopping mall, etc. Usually areas that are zoned 5 acres or more will alleviate this problem.

Once the dream of a farm is realized, we usually stay put, so make sure the area you decide on is right for you now and will be right for you in the future. What I am trying to say here is you never know what will happen from one year to the next, so be absolutely sure you love the area where your farm is located, you are likely going to be there a long time.

Purchasing in an area of like-minded horse people is an intelligent decision. The advantages of having a ‘community’ of horse people around, either for riding buddies, training, advice, emergency help, or horse sitting, suggests it may be sensible to look for an area that has people with common interests. We horse people are a great asset to one another, and we in particular need to stick together for the good of all …


While not being a fun subject it is necessary to have at least some knowledge beforehand about farm equipment, which is needed to keep things rolling along smoothly.

  • Generators - a small generator should be purchased that will keep your water running in the barn when the power goes out. If your farm is in a rural area, there will be electricity outages and a small generator will ensure water for the horses. Our boarding stable was fairly large and we had outages many times, once the local fire department had to bring water for the horses. The fire department was wonderful, but still with a generator it would have been much easier.

  • Tractors – if your farm is big enough to warrant a tractor do the research and find the one that is right for your acreage. You may need a smaller tractor to mow the paddocks with a few attachments for snow removal and a bucket for digging. Obviously, the larger tractors would be overkill. A large farm will require a bigger tractor; we researched different models and decided on the Kubota, which was right for us as it has one of the better reputations for being reliable. When you purchase the tractor, ask the dealer if classes are available that will instruct you on how to operate the tractor. I can personally offer two tips on tractor operation; do not drive with the bucket up because it can cause the tractor to tip over. Thanks to a helpful neighbor, we learned about this before any accidents occurred. Locate the brakes, as this could be important the first time you drive it out of the garage and are heading for the pond. It seems our brakes are not on the floor next to the gas pedal but on a stick next to the seat. We did not know where the brakes were, but found out, shall we say just in the nick of time.

  • Mule - a small vehicle with a cab and a small bed in the rear. Our mule is a Kawasaki, and I consider this one of the most indispensable vehicles on the property. We transport hay, shavings, water, and feed and just about anything else, that fits in the bed. It is small and fits into areas that the pick-up truck cannot. It is also great for taking into the back paddocks to check on things when you do not feel like walking. It is also useful for attaching the drag for dragging the riding arenas, the manure spreader, the seeder attachment, we even attach a weed whacking machine that weed whacks around the fence posts. In addition, it is nice to have Molly one of our Aussie’s riding shotgun in the cab. She’s an old gal (15) and it saves her legwork and lets her still be a vital part of making sure her herd is behaving.

Of course, you will find that you need some machinery that I haven’t mentioned in detail here. A ride on mower, leaf blowers, rakes, shovels, pitchforks, wheelbarrows and an assortment of brooms are just a few. I am sure you can figure out the required smaller equipment as you go along.

One more recommendation, when it comes to farm vehicles try to stay with all diesel. Our Kawasaki mule runs on diesel as well as the tractor and if you pull a trailer look for a diesel engine in the towing truck. You can usually buy agricultural diesel at a lower price than the diesel at a gas station. We buy our fuel from our home heating oil company. They also installed a 275-gallon diesel storage tank inside our equipment garage. It is equipped with a hose and filler nozzle. This is a more convenient solution for keeping your equipment filled than by using 5-gallon cans of gasoline and running back and forth to the gas station.

I hope these suggestions are helpful to you when you decide to look for your farm. In the next installment of this series, we will discuss how to find the farm of your dreams.

Until next time

Quote for Today

If horses were wishes, we’d all own stables!

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