A year ago today Boot City and I moved back into our newly renovated house. I posted quite a few photos along the way of the renovation on my social media accounts, but I never really gave barn living the credit it is due. When I tell people that we lived in our barn for 6 months, they generally assume that we have a barn apartment of sorts, which we don’t. When I say we lived in our barn, I mean we lived in a 12×14′ room with a cat and 9’ish dogs. The GC for our renovation made sure that we had a working bathroom in the house at all times because there is no bathroom at the barn.
When we had the barn built in 2012, we had the contractor leave the future feed and tack rooms unfinished. I didn’t want the typical drop ceiling room with a hideous shop door, so Boot City was going to fit both rooms out instead. The tack room was completed fairly quickly. To make the room feel larger and look better, the walls went to the ceiling, which was 14′ at the short wall. All 4 walls are constructed of 2×12″ boards. Fast forward 7 short years to the impending house renovation and the feed room was still a work in progress, but not much progress. I came up with the brilliant idea to finish out and live in that room while the house got done. It killed a few birds with one stone; I’d finally have my (future) feed room finished, we would save quite a bit of money not having to rent an RV or something to live in, and we would be on the property and near the animals.
For the 7 years it was unfinished, it had become a storage area of sorts. Mostly of construction supplies and some of Boot City’s tools. I wouldn’t actually keep feed in it long term because there were no doors to keep animals out. This is one of the only photos I found of the room pre-finish. You can see Bunny, our Italian Greyhound helping herself to some alfalfa cubes surrounded by a bunch of junk.
Bunny in the unfinished feed room, helping herself to the horse alfalfa cubes.
We finished it out exactly the same as we had the tack room using 2×12 boards for the walls. It’s way over the top in terms of both cost and durability, but there is peace of mind knowing the walls could probably withstand a tornado. I’d really feel safer in my barn than in my house in a bad storm. Two of the four walls are exterior walls of the barn and were insulated by the barn builder. All we had to do on those walls was put the 2x12s against the insulation. The other two walls were built from scratch and consist of an inside AND and outside of 2x12s and are insulated with spray foam insulation.
The first go at the spray foam insulation didn’t go very well.
There was spray foam insulation left from when we had finished the tack room. We had stored it in the tack room so it was in a temperature controlled environment, but I don’t think it was meant to be stored that long. Needless to say it was messy and Boot City was NOT happy! It looked like a spray foam insulation bomb had bone off. We are STILL scraping insulation off of portions of the concrete floor.
Here is a look at the boards going on the walls. The boards are “dropped” into steel U channel. It’s a fairly simple process except that 2×12 boards are really heavy and the last couple boards are a very tight fit so are difficult to install. But it sure looks good!
The infamous 14′ ladder. Who knew it would make TWO appearance on the blog in just a few days!
The feed room also has a sink and stainless counter, so we at least had some plumbing in our barn room. The exterior wall where the water heater is will share the hot water with the wash rack that will eventually exist on the barn porch. We put the water heater extra high up because no one wants to look at it and we may as well take advantage of some of that space!
This is a shot of the sink corner when the room was about 92% completed. The water heater is installed and the hole for the air conditioner is prepped. We didn’t actually install the AC until about April because we didn’t need it. The heater is separate and is lower on the wall. You can also see the difference between the old boards that had been installed on the wall quite a long time before the room got completed.
You can see that the ceiling is also 2x12s. Boot City really loves me and I do have the prettiest barn in the whole world.
This is the entrance door that goes into the barn aisle. Every horse girl dreams of waking up and walking out the door to see her horses. It really was an amazing experience to get to know the nuances of how they live in the barn for 6 months. I’m pretty certain they were ready for us to move back to the house, though.
Tall, pretty walls. The windows in the door make a big difference in not making the room feel claustrophobic.
Last, but not least, this is the view of the outside. More or less from the same perspective as the first photo. I don’t know that we’d do this exact design again with the 2x12s, but I really do love how it looks. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, which I also enjoy. Sometime later I’ll post more photos of the tack room. Boot City fabricated all the saddle and bridle hooks from steel. He also recently fabricated a steel tool holder that now hangs on this beautiful wall.
So. Much. Pine.
It’s FRIDAY!!!!! Friday’s don’t really mean as much as they did before coronapocolypse, but I still love them because they mean I have two nearly uninterrupted days of horsing ahead of me. Add to that the weather has been gloriously cool, albeit quite wet, this week and it looks like the cooler (for Texas) weather is going to stick around for a bit longer!
A few weeks ago I was in the barn doing chores and when I went to dump water buckets from one of the horse stalls I found one of my kittens staring at a little baby Blue Jay was on the ground. It was a big baby and had some feathers, but clearly wasn’t ready to fly yet. I quickly picked it up because me picking it up was going to end better than what the kittens would do with it if they had their way. Immediately I could hear the Blue Jay parents go CRAZY! They were swooping down from the trees and carrying on, like any good parent would do if a giant took their baby.
Super cute Blue Jay nearly-fledgling.
I put the baby bird in some grass hay in a box with a lid to keep it safe while I tried to figure out where it needed to go. There are quite a few trees around my barn so I had my work cut out for me to try to find the nest this little bird belonged to. The parents were still losing their minds so they weren’t a great deal of help to figure out where was home nest. After wandering about for nearly 30 minutes I was ready to give up when I FINALLY saw what looked like a nest at the very top part of the tree just outside the stall where I found the chick. Thankfully Boot City invested in a 14′ ladder so I wrangled the thing to the barn and set it up under the tree. This was my cardio AND strength training for the day. That ladder is no joke. Once set up, the bird parents resumed their maniacal freaking out and dive bombing, so I felt pretty good that I had found the right spot.
The top of the 14′ ladder. The nest was still a good 6-8′ higher. Never mind the car projects that live in perpetuity at our house.
I made sure the ladder was steady and got my baby bird and we climbed to the top of the ladder. The ladder was quite steady, thankfully, because when I got to the top I realised that I still couldn’t reach the nest so I had to climb into the actual tree ABOVE the ladder. Thankfully I don’t have too much of a fear of heights. As I was doing that, the bird parents started dive bombing my head and face. Yikes! I got just high enough that I could reach the nest at the top of my reach and gently drop the precious cargo back into it’s home. It never made a peep. I climbed back down and the parents relented on their attack. I never saw another sign of the bird family again. I hope all was well and they live happily ever after! Never a dull moment!
In other less dramatic news we have gone from having as many as 75 to 80 laying hens to now only having 6. All were lost from predators, old age or illness. Old hens are not very tasty, contrary to what people try to convince me. The remaining hens have two very nice gentlemen roosters to look out for them and they enjoy helping Coco eat her breakfast and laying eggs in her hay. It entertains me because Coco is quite aggressive about attacking dogs or cats in her stall, but she’s perfectly happy to have chicken guests!
A little for you, and a little for me.
When Boot City’s and my house was being renovated last year there was a long period of time when we didn’t have a dryer, so I got back into line drying our laundry. I really like line drying for many reasons. I love the smell of line dried clothes/sheets. I like that the sun naturally whitens things. I like that a lot of clothes that are line dried don’t need to be ironed like they do when they come out of the dryer. Texas summer heat dries things on the line almost as fast, and sometimes faster, than the dryer so the time commitment is actually better if you take into account the lack of ironing. However, there is the constant risk of laundry being furry.
He just stood there in the laundry for like 5 minutes. Like he enjoyed the fabric flapping around him. Like a weirdo.
And no Farm Friday post is complete without at least ONE dog photo. During the renovation we turned our breezeway into a dog/laundry/mud room and Linda (she’s a foxhound retired from Red Rock Hounds in Reno, Nevada) enjoys napping on her dog cot. She’s the sweetest old hound when she isn’t teaching the youngsters to dig under the fence to get to the neighbour’s to chase deer.
Red Rock Linda having a nice snooze.
I’m looking forward to lots of time in the saddle this weekend, some mane trimming and bridle path clipping and maybe even some house cleaning. What are you getting up to this weekend?
I’m not adamantly on team shoes or team barefoot (for horses, I’m definitely team shoes for humans), but I do see the benefit in pulling a horse’s shoes off when he isn’t working hard to allow his feet to adapt to life without shoes. This can strengthen the hoof wall and some research indicates that barefoot trimming can help horses who have underrun heels (a common problem amongst off track Thoroughbreds). One research article even indicated that a shod horse going barefoot for even a few weeks led to a hoof with characteristics that are known to improve soundness
Jaguar has been without shoes since his retirement, with the only exception being when he tore his hoof from the sole up to the coronet band and required a bar shoe while it grew out. Coco cannot be without shoes because she has a slight club foot and needs to support of the shoe. Simon requires at least front shoes during hunt season for no reason other than he’s tender footed on rocks. He’s got lovely hooves, especially for an off-track Thoroughbred, but his soles have always been quite sensitive. Hunt season generally goes from November to March so he’s shod from September to April. 5 months hasn’t been long enough the past 2 summers for him to be barefoot and have his hooves actually acclimate to being barefoot.
Enter coronapocolypse. Hunt season ended prematurely (early March) and the trips I had planned to go hunting outside of Texas also were canceled. This could be the PERFECT summer for Simon’s feet to really acclimate to being barefoot! I had my farrier pull his shoes on March 21. Typical for Simon he was quite sore for a few weeks. Our property is fairly rocky and he noticeably avoided the rocky areas. I put Seashore Acres Sole Paint on his feet every evening when he came in for the night to help build toughness in his soles. By late April he was starting to seem a bit better.
A very handsome and barefoot Simon after a ride. He’s quite wild.
In May we went trail riding with friends a couple times and on one particular ride his feet took quite a beating on some very rocky ground and I felt like a big jerk! I knew I couldn’t continue to go on trail rides and not offer his feet at least some sort of protection.
Enter, hoof boots. I listen to a daily podcast called Horses in the Morning and there is a monthly episode about Endurance riding. I’ve never really wanted to try Endurance riding, but I really enjoy the episodes and one of the sponsors is Renegade Hoof Boots. I’ve heard for years how great these boots are for endurance rides and how easy they are to put on the horse, so I thought maybe this could be a solution to protecting Simon’s feet while allowing him to remain barefoot for the summer. So, I ordered a 2 boots! I measured his hooves according to the detailed description on the website and selected some black ones (I’m a hunter after all, no crazy colours for me!) in his size. They come in singles, which I could see being nice if you had a horse with different sized feet (like Coco).
Simon is quite tolerant of all the things, but I wasn’t sure how he’d react to his new hoof boots. He can be a bit klutzy so I was worried the hoof boots would make that worse which might scare him, but I was pleasantly surprised. I tried them on him and they seemed to fit great and were VERY easy to get on and adjust to his hooves. The directions were straightforward and simple. They definitely aren’t going to win him any show hunter cool kid points (and are probably dangerous for jumping), but they aren’t offensive.
Simon trying on his new kicks for the very first time.
For the first ride we just walked and trotted a tiny bit around the property. I specifically took him to a few extra rocky places so he’d know he could walk over those rocks and nary a rock would bother his tootsies (well, at least the front ones). He did great and I could tell he started to figure out that his feet were in fact protected and he got braver about walking right through rocky areas that he usually avoids. The only minor issue that he seemed to have was overreaching and clipping the boots with his hind feet. I posted in a Facebook group after that ride and got advice to go ahead and use bell boots the next time he wears them, which makes sense since he usually needs bell boots with his regular shoes.
Another photo because he’s cute and likes his picture taken.
A few days after that first ride the Renegades made their maiden voyage on a trail ride, but this time with bell boots. It had rained quite a lot the night before the trail ride so the trails were very muddy and I was a bit concerned the mud might suck the boots off his feet. The only issue he had with the boots all day was at the beginning of the ride he spooked at a fawn that jumped up and went running through the trees. He pivoted away on his front feet when he spooked which seemed to cause one of the boots to twist around his hoof. I got off, straightened the boot back, and adjusted it quite a bit tighter than it had been. And let me tell you that mounting block (or in this case tree stump) training is very important when you are out on a trail ride and have to get on a 16.2h horse with no real mounting block. We rode about 8 miles the rest of the morning and the boots were perfect! We went through lots of water and mud and grass and they stayed on perfectly. The trail was quite rocky in a few places so I was glad he had good hoof protection. We are officially now hoof boot devotees.
We are off and running on all the trail rides for the rest of the summer, or at least until it gets unbearably hot in Texas! I highly recommend the Renegades both for riding a barefoot horse as well as having around in case your horse pulls a shoe. These things are tough and they fit really well.
The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, but there is a large beaver dam on the creek that Simon is looking at. It’s nice to see so much green grass in late June!
Hi! It’s great to “see” you again! I took a REAL long hiatus from blogging. In short, I lost my mojo. I struggle a little bit with blogging because it seems inherently selfish. WHO CARES what I do, where I go, how I ride, when I ride, where I shop, what are my opinions, etc?! However, I’m a journaler. I have kept a journal nearly as long as I could write and I find it cathartic to write things out. My journaling activity really slowed down after I got married and “real” life started. Then I started blogging in 2014 and it felt right, mostly. I look back on many posts and they seem a bit contrived and superficial. I’ve struggled my entire life caring way too much about “what other people think” and this showed up in my blog. The voice often doesn’t sound like me.
I’m restarting BSBC (this acronym is pretty funny to me because I am Human Resources Manager professionally and I administer medical insurance plans and frequently refer to BCBS which is Blue Cross Blue Shield. I’m likely the only person who thinks this is funny) not because I think anyone gives a hoot about the things listed previously, but because I’m never going to write a book and I find it fascinating to read about other people. It only seems fair to share my own story as I enjoy reading the stories of other bloggers and to scratch the itch of journaling. I’m here to document my life experience, thoughts, maybe some opinions, and whatever else for no reason other than to be able to go back and read it myself and to perhaps share something that is beneficial to someone someday.
The world is a bit upside down right now, so in many ways it seems like a horrible time to restart. I feel like I should have something profound to say or share about the Black Lives Matter movement, and I don’t. Other than that I’m aware of the privilege I have because I’m white and I’m determined to be an anti-racist and an ally. In that same vein, I haven’t (at least yet, I’m knocking on wood over here) been negatively affected by the coronapocolypse pandemic. I’m incredibly lucky to be in Texas where we had a TREMENDOUSLY strong economy going into the pandemic and so far has stayed fairly strong during the otherwise turbulent economic situation. I’m also fortunate to live on a few acres, so even when we were staying at home, we had plenty of space and things to do to never feel cabin fever. Boot City and I do our best to stay away from people and when we are in public we wear facemasks and thus far we have remained healthy.
So here is my re-start. I turned 40 the day Governor Abbott announced the Stay at Home order for Texas. I’ve been happily married for 15 years. We don’t have human offspring, by choice. I’ve had and ridden horses my entire life. I currently own 4 horses, 3 are at home and 1 is leased out to a lovely teenager. I have WAY too many dogs. WAY too many. 9 in the permanent collection and 1 foster. I also have 6 cats, 10 goats, 9 chickens, a pony and a donkey. I’m going to keep the “I” perspective, even though a lot of this is “we”, but let’s be honest. Boot City probably wouldn’t even have a fish if he had never married me. I’m going to tell my story and hope that someone else is entertained, learns something, feels camaraderie, gets a laugh, whatever it is that my sharing can bring to the world, and even better if I make a new friend. This won’t be an exclusively horse focused blog either, although that is a big part of my life. I don’t know of many other writers out there like me. Kind of middle aged (it really is so weird to write that!), married when youngish, no kids (on purpose), fulfilling (but not crazy demanding) career, and a hobby that is very resource intensive both from a financial and time commitment perspective.
I hope that as I blog more consistently I am more able to interact with readers. I’m tired of the social media interaction that feels so contrived and brief. It’s a great way to connect, but not really the best place to nurture relationships. And if you are reading this, I’d love feedback! Even if it’s just to say “hey, I read this!”
I’ll leave with my current favourite photograph, from Caroline Vaughn. She took this at the Opening Meet for Brazos Valley Hounds last November. I’ve had a lot of wonderful horses over the years and while Simon is only 6, he’s proving to be a pretty strong contender for my “heart horse”. Until next time my friends.