Somethin’ ‘Bout a Barn
Kip Moore sings a great song “Somethin’ ’bout a truck in a farmers field … somethin’ ’bout beer, sittin’ on ice …. and there’s somethin’ ’bout a girl in a red sun dress … and there’s somethin’ ’bout a kiss that’s gonna lead to more.”
Well, if you love Texas land, and you own or want to own a Texas ranch, then you already know there’s “somethin’ ’bout a barn.” New barn, old barn, weathered barn, used barn, spaces in the barn, swallows and sparrows nesting in the barn, hay, horses and heifers.
A well-designed barn will serve you and your livestock for decades and save time, effort and money in terms of storage, housing, crisis events, efficiency and function. You can begin writing down everything you want — just like the proverbial Christmas list — then chisel out the bells and whistles that are neither necessary nor budget friendly. Agricultural buildings are often exempt from strict building codes, so check on that while you’re scouting out a well-drained, open location on your land. You don’t need a tree falling on it or worse yet, lightning hitting the tree and burning down the whole enchilada. Additionally, position the building with climate considerations like sun, shade, prevailing winds and storm water runoff.
If you have some semblance of a barn already, figure out what’s usable and still safe and incorporate that into your plan, demolishing sections no longer of use. You can find oodles of Texas barn builders and lots of barn and run-in shed plans and kits online. Some of the most important considerations for your barn include:
- Define function(s) like horses, sheep, equipment storage, workshop, combination of uses;
- Address ventilation as equine respiratory conditions can sometimes be traced to housing with lots of hay and dust in the same quarters. Fresh air is imperative for all animals, so back windows and even back stall doors that open in two parts are exceptionally practical, along with cupolas and spaces between roof edges and exterior walls;
- Light retains optimism, discourages flies and reduces accidents. Consider a clear 30-foot panel for one or two or more roof sections, assuring daylight all the time;
- Floors can be concrete and covered with rubber mats or left dirt with some pea gravel on top and thinner rubber mats over that;
- Consider concrete and/or pea gravel around all entrances including exterior stall doors for mud reduction;
- Wide center aisles are paramount to safety and will be part of any good barn design;
- Water and electric may be an integral part of the barn design or can be hauled with hoses and rigged with heavy duty extension cords, possibly encased in PVC pipe, depending on building location, size and use;
- Heavy sliding doors on all ends of the barn with handles on both sides are easy to manage and, like house pocket doors, are out of the way once opened;
- Feed needs to be in a separate room or in containers with secure lids;
- In the case of a small barn, tall cupboards mounted flush to a wall work great for tack and storage. Pound 3-inch screws to help secure to the wall, then add a few inches of cut PVC pipe over the screw for hanging bridles and leather straps;
- Plan good gutters, downspouts and generous eaves from the beginning.
With money, time and space, you can include a tack room, wash rack, rest room, utility room, office, trophy case and myriad accessories and small spaces for sheep with lambs and cows who need help from time to time. If money is tight, one can build an effective barn with concrete blocks and carport roofing. It’s very strong, can be partitioned with cattle gates and serve well for storage, injured animals or run-in shed for horses. Ideally, the lumber for a wood barn will rest eight to 12 months to assure good, dry boards and minimal shrinkage.
A barn is a wonderful addition to any Texas land or ranch, an investment which will enhance the property in both function and value. Truly, there’s “somethin’ ’bout a barn” that warms the heart in both nostalgic and contemporary ways.