|Picture from last February when it snowed|
Well, to understand my problem, you have to understand a little history of this barn. I bought the place in 2007. The man who owned the property before us purchased it in 1980. I've had trouble finding out if he built the barn or moved it in, but either way, it was done in sections. The above line of stalls all seem to match, but as you can see, they aren't exactly level. It's even worse in person. The entre barn was built with each stall level to the ground it is on. And it's on a bit of a hill.
Ok, so each stall is unique. Kind of annoying to rennovate, but they are nice big stalls, ranging from 12 x 12 to 12 x 14. The 12 x 12 stalls back up against each other with a removeable wall between them (lift the boards out type) and make amazing foaling stalls.
But, when the previous owner had the place he never cleaned out the stalls, or so it seems. When we bought it, there were HUGE (as in bigger then I could move) chunks of decayed hay/manure. Big lumps like boulders.
We finally got the stall floors "level-ish" and were able to start using them. It took time, with us starting out with one useable stall, then 2, then 4, and so on. Right now, we have all the floors level-ish. So, I have been using the barn like normal for almost a year, and we have a new problem, and one that I can't seem to figure out how to fix on a budget.
The "compost" which makes up the stall floors (technically they are dirt floors) gets wet from the urine, and the rain that comes in the open sides, and is not drying out. Shavings are basically worthless because of the set up. I can put down 5 bales of shavings in a stall, and in less then 2 days, they have all degraded into dirt.
Our plan is to eventually cut off the stall fronts, use the tractor to dig down to the clay base, then add on the PROPER base for a stall (crushed rock with mats over it). But, I'm not there yet, and I'm on a tight budget after last year's drought. With all the OTHER projects we have here (cross fencing is the main one right now) I'm looking for ideas to hold me over until we can get there.
So, I've tried shavings, and gave up on them. I tried straw on it's own, and it's not that much better. Right now, I am using those pelleted shavings (the dehydrated ones) under the straw, and that seems to be decent, but I still have this pocket in each stall, where the horses urinate, that just won't dry up, no matter what I put on it. I try to dig it out, and just end up with a hole of soft dirt, that quickly gets wet again, and then mixes with the bedding on top of it.
That was my project yesterday. Leveling off the "wet spot" and dumping dehydrated pellets on it to soak up the "wet" and then adding fresh straw to each.
I really like using the straw in my barn over the shavings for so many reasons, but I'm not sure that every one agrees. Oh sure, it's harder to "pick" the stalls, but I just remove more, and add back in more. Straw right now is drastically cheaper then shavings so even removing that much extra doesn't hurt the budget, and when pulled out, it makes a better compost, which then fertilizes the pastures. So, for an extra 30 minutes of "work" I get much more benefit (the compost). My concern though, is that my potential boarders won't like that I use straw instead of the more common shavings (here at least shavings are the most common).
So all in all, I guess I have 2 things I need suggestions on: Any ideas to fix the stall floors, and what do you think of bedding horses on straw rather then shavings?
And I realized that almost all the pictures of the inside of my barn are from baby pictures. So enjoy some gratuitous babies!