Fixing a mistake. Clay muck
So new to the forum, so Hi.
I board now at a small barn, 4 stalls (currently 4 occupants - 3 paint mares, and my lil long yearling rescue colt). with roughly 4.2 acres of pasture.
Its situated in the middle of a neighborhood, the back of the pasture is next to the drainage ditch that runs through my wee suburbanite town.
The barn itself is sturdy, and in good repair, with electricity, and lights.
Two stalls on the left leading into a small paddock, and 2 stalls on the right leading into a larger paddock and hay room. Tack room is small, but has refridgerator, sink, and storage.
The HUGE PROBLEM.
Mrs L, whom I help take care of her two paint mares, decided mid august to get "dirt" from a local construction site and lay it, in her paddock, stalls, and in front of the main gate leading out into the pasture. as well as a few low spots in the pasture towards the back. Her husband and I both tried to talk her out of it because, it was CLAY. She is very strong willed and would not hear a bad word about the "free dirt" she had aquired to improve our barn.
Fast foward to now - rain, some cold (it is texas we dont really get snow or anything really cold) and her paddock is ruined, the horses are constantly covered in mudd, and their stalls are to the point where they prefer to stand on the hay outside in the weather then in their stalls.
My paddock (well mine as soon as the other horse moves out) is so low that its like a swimming pool. There are no gutters and the mare currently residing in it, has worn it down to nothing with her endless pacing.
So I need ideas for the coming spring on how to spruce it up. Mrs. L is down for some time and has realized the error of her decision, so her husband, her friend, my family and I are going to try and work the whole place back into being nice.
Big problem however is the clay. How to move it out, can we mix sand or top soil in it to help loosen it out some or does it need to removed entirely. We have a tractor, with a bucket, disk, and can rent anything else needed.
The drainage plans we have thought up are french drains, Leading out from each paddock to infront of the barn, and then down to the left headed towards to natural slope down the drainage ditch in the back. But not entirely sure of the materials we should use for long lasting and minimal maintence requirements.
Helps and ideas are more then welcome lol.
That's really tough to answer with out a hands on. I'd think they couldn't of hauled in a LOT of clay. My suggestion would be to chisel plow or bottom plow to integrate the clay. And break the hard pan. Hard pan is the biggest problem round here with horses and water issues.
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Welcome to the forum! I owned a geotechnical (soils) engineering firm for many years and now am retired. Clay will always be a problem if that is what it truly is. If you want to, send me some soil samples of what the bulk of it is and I will tell you exactly what percent clay you have. I need at least 1 cup of each sample you send me. I'll send it off to my old company that I sold for laboratory testing. Most free dirt is useless i.e. clay, debri filled, etc. Not all free dirt but most. Clay retains moisture and is best removed.
Ill see about getting some samples. As for the amount of clay. She had two dump trucks dropped infront of the barn, and her husband (under her careful eye) spread it to where she pointed basically. The loads came from across the street actually. The school had its parking lot extended and re done over the summer, and she just couldnt resist the piles of black and red dirt sitting out side our door as it were. Ill get pictures tomorrow of the paddocks.
I have all clay soil. It is a nasty mess in winter. Clay and hard pan.
I compost the manure and disced into my pastures and arena.
Do you have any other options to help the clay , that can be put in a horse corral ? I have had soil test done, and basically 100% clay on ten acres. Also dont have a ton of $$ as all my moola is in taxes and hay
Heck, 20 or 30 yards is nothing. Not being there makes it hard but, Id think with some simple changes of grade you should be able straighten things out. And breaking hard pan ;)
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Clay makes what is called a confining layer that holds moisture. It's also called a perched water table. Depending on the depth and percent of clay to soil things can be done to penetrate the confining layer so that moisture will drain below the confining layer. It all depends on the percent clay. If not total clay, you can amend it for sure. Bad clay will always equal bad mud unless it is properly mitigated. The fact that a parking lot was redone is not good. Parking lot failures (cracking, dips, holes, etc.) are alway due to a poor sub base and/or subgrade material and clay is the usual culprit. Second to that is improper compaction of soils prior to construction or debri or peat that creates pockets of settlement over time. Just my two cents worth.
Prior to purchasing property, a preliminary site investigation should be done to be sure that the existing soil will be suitable for the purpose intended of the purchase. I feel for anyone that has a literal pasture of clay. Clay usually can be delineated (called a muck delineation) to identify how large the areas are. Depending on the geographical location of the site, most clay areas in the south, including Texas, have "pockets" of clay that can be removed at a nominal fee or be remediated properly to further the successful construction process. I've never performed a geotechnical investigation on a pasture but have performed thousands of them for commercial buildings. Maybe there are some clay pasture tricks out there that I wouldn't be exposed to.
I had 60 tons (roughly 3 truck loads) of crusher run gravel delivered several years ago and have about 8 inches deep of gravel around the barn which over the years has packed down hard.
In addition to that we put 8 to 12 inches of #2 washed gravel in the stalls and covered it with rubber mats. At least we can get the horses into a dry, clean area, and stall them at night where they can lay down in the dry.
The pasture requires constant attention. I over seed twice a year, spring and fall. I've got a pretty good stand of annual rye up right now, but it still gets muddy around the hay ring. I have a small manure spreader and use it in all but the wet winter months and that helps too.
If you wait, the clay will become workable when it's not too wet but beginning to dry. If it is mainly contained to one area a small skid steer should be able to pick it up and put it in a low spot. When it dries it will be like concrete so have it smoothed out. I'd then dump manure on it about 3" thick. Give it a few years and grass will grow like crazy. I know, my land is clay.
I have a lot of clay here in Ky. and find putting saw dust where I have clay help it keep the mud from being so bad and as it brakes down it adds to the soil it works for me.Good luck
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