Barn renovations got underway last fall. We have had a long term goal of working with draft horses. The reasons for this are a mix of trying to move away from fossil fuel use in tillage and garden cultivation, a manure source, a low impact way of doing some logging and woodlot management and maybe some agritourism in the long run. We also enjoy the pace they help set for work and working with animals instead of tractors, which tend to be noisy, vibrating and stinky (diesel fumes are not my favourite air to breath…).
It was amazing to open up the barn during the demolition phase. We took down the entire north wall and part of the west wall as you can see in these photos. With the amazing views, increased natural light in the barn and general feeling of openes, it was almost a shame to close everything back up!
As with most building projects the hoped for time line and budget soon strayed… The excavation revealed layers of tops soil, rubble and even and old barn foundation. You can see the layers of topsoil as layers of dark brown in the picture bellow. Without knowing the history of the land it was very hard to anticipate this. The discovery meant a sharp rise in concrete and backfilling costs, which brought the hoped for $8000-12,000 concrete budget up to just under $20,000!
In addition to the surprise at cost, there was some stress around the barn staying up. The deeper excavation and subsequent rains led me to worry the temporary wall that was holding up the roof would give away causing the roof to collapse… Luckily the weather cooperated and we were able to pour footings and put in new posts before disaster ensued!
After this hick-up we moved onto framing up as much of the exterior as we could. This work went more according to plan, which was a relief. Our original plan was to have the exterior of the barn finished this fall and pick away at the interior over the winter, however, the cost overrun on the concrete meant we had to eventually put the job on hold. We will likely pick away at it this spring and next fall, with hopes of getting a small team of horses in there next winter. We’ll keep you posted!
These photos show where we ended off in December and where we will hopefully pickup the work again this spring. The two bays at the bottom of the slope are where the pigs will live, along with wallows to the north and south.