“You’re pretty excited about this barn, aren’t you?” one of the workers, Josh, said to me today.
The upstairs of my barn is a huge loft which will store my beekeeping supplies and additional hives and supers. I can keep extra cages and incubators here, and it will be a warm, safe place to house newly hatched chicks or peacocks. I can start all manner of projects up in that spacious work area. And it’s mine, all mine. Yippee!
The right side of my barn is a hay storage area. Now, we will be able to purchase our winter’s hay early and keep it fresh, and I won’t have to stress because there is no hay to buy anywhere, or the few bails we tucked under a tarp went bad. Yes, my animals will eat properly this winter. Yippee!
The big front door (not yet built) will be on a slider, so I can have it fully opened to let the breeze in. (In the winter, I can slide the door open only as far as I want to keep the insides warm. The back door of equal size is on traditional hinges so I can keep them closed, or swing them open to drive a tractor through or to let in light and air. More yippee’s!
The left side of my barn has been partitioned off as a small corral so if I want to keep the stalls open, the horses can stroll outside for fresh air. When the dutch doors are closed, (so the horse stays inside and has a window, or this can be closed to keep in warmth) these covered areas can be used as two separate open stalls, so donkey and the llamas can be housed there (also to keep out of horrible weather). The inside boards are removable (my idea) so this can be converted into one larger open corral. In June, I can use this area as a temporary pen for the new llama, so I can watch her give birth. Hate to think she’ll go hide among the trees in the pasture, drop that baby and leave it. I’m hoping that confined to a smaller area, she may accept her baby and feed it (fingers crossed). Anyway, I’ll be able to control that situation one way or another, so we won’t have to go chasing a newborn if we have to bottle feed it. Yippee!
Inside, the two stalls are 12X12, which is roomy and nice for a horse – even a pregnant one. Another yippee! If I was to admit to one impractical indulgence, it was that I talked Mark into approving a small concrete patio in front of the outside door to the feed room. This is because I want to put a nice bench here to sit on while waiting for horses to eat and for guests to rest after a ride. I just think it will be pretty as an entrance. The feed room can also be entered from inside the barn for convenience and so you feed the stalled horses and stay inside. But on those days when you want to feed everyone outside, and don’t want to open the main doors, the feed room is assessable. The tack room is conveniently located inside so you can saddle a horse with a minimum of effort. Both rooms feature a nice work bench, a peg board for hanging tools etc.. and even a fridge so cold drinks (and carrots) are always at the ready.
You might think I’m a traditional red barn sort of girl. I thought of going that route. Even did some historic reading so I fully understood the significance of barn colors and how and why they were painted red long ago. But in the end, I decided I liked barns best natural gray and weathered (and this also means avoiding having to re-paint every couple of years), so we plan to let this one turn in time, then we will put a sealer on it. I want a barn that looks timeless and blends in with the surroundings.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t want a pretty barn. This weekend I am going to the flea market to buy some big black wooden cutouts of horses rearing (had my eye on them for some time) to be erected high on the front on each side of the upper door. Mark is giving me a wagon wheel (he’s been collecting them for furniture making) to put up there in the peak and we will attach the power beam light to the center of it. I am now scouting all manner of horseshoe hooks and other theme paraphernalia to decorate the space. I’m buying a flag that has a llama on it. Yes, I am all for practicality, but I am a big queer-bo theme lover too. I have every intention of placing pretty benches and planting flowers around the front. I will have a loud boom box for music (so I can dance around the barn when no one but the horses are looking). I figure this is my home away from home. Might as well make it inviting.
There is still a lot to do. We have to pour concrete in the tack room, feed room, under the stairs and on the porch. We have to finish off the inside stairs and the big front door. I have to rake out a million little rocks, because they built the dang barn on my temporary gravel road and didn’t first bull doze them out. Oops. I need to put bedding in the stalls and mulch in the corral. We need to get the electric company to put a line to the barn, then call an electrician to put in lights and electrical plugs so I can see when the days grow short (which is coming up.) And I need water! Once we get electric, Mark and Ronnie are going to dig a big pit in the creek and put in a pump so I can get fresh creak water on tap. Sounds complicated, but they insist it will work.
Like everything in our life, it is a work in progress. But I couldn’t be more delighted. This is the very best playhouse the little girl inside me has ever had!
I’m truly grateful!
And best of all, the next time I see a sad, stray cat that needs a home, I’ll have a dry, soft hayloft to offer. Every barn needs a barn cat to keep the mice away. But I’m not going looking for a cat. I will wait until a desperate cat finds me. If it was meant to be . . . .