Friday, May 8, 2009

Panama's first barn is for sale

I recently saw up for sale Panama's first barn, the place I left because I was concerned about cleanliness and safety (stalls were only cleaned 2 or 3 times a week, I was finding mold in the hay regularly, the water troughs weren't being filled and the ice wasn't getting broken out often enough, the horses were rarely ever turned out, and the only times the horses were checked on was at feeding times).

It's two separate lots, one with the house and one with the barn and arena. The owner is, of course, selling them separately — and for way too much, in my opinion. Board at this place is $275 a month and the barn holds 12 horses, so even if you don't have any horses of your own what you get in board won't cover the mortgage — and that's not even taking into account other expenses, such as hay, manure removal, etc. You wouldn't be able to raise the price for a little while, either, or you'd lose boarders right off the bat — not something you want to do when you're first taking over a business.

It's really too bad he wants too much for the property, because I'd love to own a house and boarding stables. I'm not crazy about the house, but I'd do it for the barn — if it were, oh, a quarter of the price for both properties. I know this would be about right because a house just down the street on about 2 acres wasn't selling last year at $400K. A million would be the max for these two properties, I think, even with one being an income-generating property.

Oh, but if I were able to afford this place, I would make it such a much better barn than what it was when I was there. Here is what I'd do differently:

1) Get better hay and store it somewhere else, NOT in the barn, and not exposed to the elements either. When I was there, hay was stored in the center aisle of the barn, as well as outside. The center aisle was covered in a layer of hay at least 6 inches. Not only is that a ridiculous wastee, but it's also a major fire hazard!

2) Do a better job of maintaining the water troughs. Clean and fill them regularly, keep the ice broken out in the winter, etc. You just can't expect a horse to go without water — you just can't.

3) Clean the stalls daily. Making a horse stand and sleep in a foot-deep layer of its own manure is terrible. When I told the owner that, he laughed at me and said, "They don't notice things like that!" Uh, whatever, dude.

4) Turn the horses out daily. I just think that is so important. Even if it's only four hours a day, horses need to be allowed to be horses. Turning them out only a few times a season also meant that each time was a mad rush of 1,000 pound beasts frantic to run around and graze.

5) Put a layer of arena sand in the outdoor arena. The arena there has a dirt floor, and I suspect it's just the dirt that was there to begin with, because it's typical Colorado, clay-like dirt that takes a long time to dry out. You go out there when it's muddy, and you'll have two pounds of mud on each foot by the time you're done, guaranteed. And you expect me to ride in that?!

6) Get a dumpster for manure removal. A huge manure pile — not a composting pile, mind you, but a big pile of manure — is just gross, not to mention a poor way to impress potential boarders.

That's just for starters — I'm sure there are many other things I would do to improve that place, if the price tag were something I'd be willing to pay.



At May 9, 2009 at 11:49 AM, Blogger jane augenstein said...

Wow, you have more energy then me! Taking on boarders would be a LOT of work. I am so glad that the two I have are able to run in the barn as they want and i don't have to turn them out. Both of them are very good about not messing in the barn, :-) Saves me a lot of work and saves my back!
It would be nice if that is what you would like to do if the owners would combine the barn/house for sale and a reasonably price you could afford. Hope that something comes your way. It is wonderful to have your horse or horses on your own place. Sometimes when I take the little house dogs out for their last outing at night, I can hear the boys in the field. If I call to them they will come to the fence and I will feed them a bread snack! Nothing greater!

At May 9, 2009 at 9:11 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...


Ideally, I'd prefer to have a small property and take on just a couple of boarders -- friends or my mother-in-law's horses, someone I could ride with ideally. But I'd be willing to take on a 10 or 12 horse barn in order to have horse property if that was the only (or the best) way to find it in the city. I work from home so I'd be there all the time, which would be ideal for running a small barn.


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