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Koolio 09-15-2012 10:13 AM

Barn and hay storage
Next summer we are planning to build a 36'x36' barn. Originally, I wanted a barn to store hay in, have a tack room, have a two stalls to bring in a couple of horses in for vet care, farrier visits, tacking up in the cold and if they are sick. Our horses live outside all year round and like it, so we wouldn't be stabling them often. The barn will also be located fairly close to our house, so it will need to look good and be kept spotless.

Since winter is coming and the barn won't go up until next summer, I have purchased two portable 12x20 structures for hay storage. Last year I used a hay tarp over the stack placed on pallets, but having to shovel snow off the tarp was a pain, so we bought the structures. In the past, I have also always stored and fed my hay well away from the house, keeping the aroma from spring melt manageable.

So here is my question. Would you suggest continuing with the plan to build a barn large enough for hay storage and move winter feeding closer to the barn, or would you store the hay away from the barn, and build a smaller barn? If I go with a smaller structure, I can put more money into a concrete alley and nicer stalls. A larger structure would be a pole building with dirt floor and simpler stalls. Also, I wonder if storing hay in the barn will help keep it warmer in winter (we aren't going to heat it), or if it poses too much of a fire hazard, or if feeding closer to the house will create a mess in the spring.

What would you do?

Chevaux 09-15-2012 10:51 AM

We built a 32x36 barn recently as we`re turning our old 32x48 barn into storage for the haying equipment. The old barn had 4 stalls and we could store a year`s supply of bedding and a couple of months' worth of hay in it easy. While it was extremely convenient having this stuff inside, it was always in the back of my mind that it could start heating and spontaneously combust (somewhat irrational I know). With the knew barn (also 4 stalls as I have 4 horses), we can keep a couple weeks`worth of feed and bedding. Not as convenient, for sure, but it makes me a lot calmer about storing the stuff. Also, since we went with a smaller structure, our budget let us 'fancy' up the interior a little more - I spend a fair bit of time in the barn so that's a big thing to me (I notice my husband seems to come in the barn more too and I'm sure it's just to enjoy the view). If I did it again, I'd still go with our new set up.

Re Hay storage -- Our hay is stacked and tarped about 40-50 ft from the new barn. We went with a distance of that because of level ground and needing to have enough room in the winter to keep a path clear to the stacks with our big tractor mounted snow thrower.

Re Warmth -- When we stored all those bales in the old barn (everything was ground level), I didn't feel that it did anything by way of making things warmer. And, while I think of it, with the horses in overnight, I used to have to watch out for frost build up on the walls and ceiling. When it did happen, I would put a tarp over the bales to keep them dry (extra work there I tell you). With the horses in overnight in the new barn (they just go in during the hard part of the winter), I find that warmer (but not too warm; this is only one winter's experience here) because it's smaller and better insulated.

Re Feeding mess -- Granted our stacks aren't that close to the house but with a bit of due diligence in keeping the area tidy, I don't find it messy.

Enjoy the project - it is, at the same time, aggrevating and satisfying seeing it come to life. When all is done, you should be able to stand there looking at it with your chest heaving with pride of accomplishment!!! Good luck.

Koolio 09-15-2012 02:18 PM

Thanks for our response Chevaux. We are setting up two 12x20 portable garages for the hay today. Since we won't start building until spring, I will have a winter to see how well the portables work. They should keep the stack dry and where they are positioned, we shouldn't have issues with wind blowing end tarps away.

Like you mentioned, I was thinking if we didnt have to store our winter hay supply in a barn, that I could go smaller and spend the difference on a nicer barn. I expect we will be spending a fair amount of time out there. I will also plan for enough space to store a small cache of hay and bedding. Thanks for the good ideas!

Chevaux 09-15-2012 03:22 PM

As a FYI, we used to keep our baler in a fabric garage. It worked fine for about a year and a half until an extreme summer wind blew it right off. We built a wooden one to replace it. I still maintain the fabric garage (actually close in size to your ones) would still be standing if the wind had been in a slightly different direction. As it was, the direction was such that it went right through the gappy area that is created at the corners and lifted the whole thing like a sail. But it sounds like you've got that cased with a better sheltered location than we had for ours.

caseymyhorserocks 09-15-2012 05:35 PM

I would go with a smaller barn and separate hay storage. I would certainly sleep a lot better knowing my hay is in a different building than my barn- although it is nice to store a week or so of hay inside the barn for convenience. And, then you can make the barn look nicer on the outside (as well as inside) so its not an eyesore looking out from the house.

Sharpie 09-15-2012 06:08 PM

I would store the hay separately and build a slightly nicer horse barn. I am one of those who worry about fire hazard too much to be able to sleep well putting them together in one building.

Saddlebag 09-15-2012 07:35 PM

Those portable garages work good if you leave both ends open. Hay gives off a surprising amount of moisture and you need the breezes to carry it away. Put your hay up on two rows of pallets and your bottom bales will be in better shape. Place 2x 4's on edge in between so there is air space between them. I've tried all ways and this seemed to work best. And you might want to put a big plastic tarp on the ground first to keep the moisture from rising out of the ground. If you get a load of snow on these structures, use a wooly paint roller on the inside to push against the plastic to get the snow to slide as the plastic gets a little fragile in the cold.

Saddlebag 09-15-2012 07:37 PM

When you build your barn don't keep more than a dozen bales in there. I've seen barn fires with the loss of animals and I hope I never witness another fire.

Koolio 09-15-2012 08:11 PM

Thanks for the tips Saddlebag. The paint roller idea is brilliant!

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