Ocala questions

Some of you already know if you follow me on the social medias, but after about a year and a half, I finally accomplished my goal of purchasing land just outside of Ocala. :tada:
However, I’m still not super familiar with the area or businesses. I’m hoping COTH can provide some answers on who to use or whom to avoid.

I need someone to clear the land I purchased. It’s pretty lightly treed so for now I just want the undergrowth gone. In NC they burned to get rid of that, but up here in VA they just bush hog. What’s most common in Ocala? Any recommendations on a company or person?

I also need someone to come out and seed for grass. Recommendations?

I need a well drilled. Anyone use someone they liked?

I’m in Morriston if that effects the answers.

What kind of barns do you prefer for the climate? When I was in south Florida everyone had shed row style barns for the airflow. However, I know it can get cold-ish there (it was 12 degrees this morning here in VA :frowning: )


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Lauren Romanelli is somewhere in the Ocala area and is active on Facebook. I recall she just had some fenclines cleared and recommended someone… it might be worth connecting with her.

This is it : https://www.facebook.com/laurenromanelli/posts/10103937389946299

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We’ve had two properties here (a bit north of Ocala) and both times, we’ve asked locals to build us a Florida style barn. The concept is to maximize air flow by spacing the walls. In the coldest weather, the horses can still get in and stay dry (so you don’t have wet and cold). During the heat of summer, the horses have paddocks but will happily stand in their stalls on the hottest days, because the wall openings take advantage of every little breeze. We don’t even have fans installed. The farriers and vets LOVE the barns we’ve built because it gives them a shady, cool place to work. Also, and this will be counter-intuitive, but the aisle should be oriented north/south. The other way will trap heat and block the cooler breezes. The costs range between $15K and $20K.

Lightweight full barn. This is our current barn. The only regrets I have is not having the hay storage area better protected from damp breezes. It’s hard to keep hay in humid environments. It does better if I tuck it back away from the aisle. Or, build a separate hay shed, like we did at our old place. We built the paddocks ourselves. Also, very important, make sure you have the builder give you a good high clay pad to build your barn on. That clay is still in really good shape and all we had to do was put down stall mats.

Newly built:

After a few years. You can see the tack room we added and how we store the hay. Having a gate at both ends is to keep the barn cats safe and our dogs out of the barn while still allowing for air flow. The only thing I would change is to add more boards at the top of the walls on either end of the barn. We’ve been meaning to fix it because it does allow sideways rain to wet the shavings inside the stall (just on the edge, though).

If you want heavier boards and actual stall doors, here is the shed row I had built on our previous property. It ran us closer to 24K. The tack room in both was added later (we just had them build a stall initially). We built the paddocks. The no climb didn’t do nearly as well as the board fencing we used on the new full barn.

With the tack room and electricity added. I would recommend electricity, at least. A water spigot outside the barn is good, especially if you want auto waterers. Make sure you get the kind where you can clean the bowls. The water here gets a lot of algae.

Both of these barns saw us through several tropical storms and hurricanes. Yes, your stalls will get wet when he rain comes from all directions, but it blocks the rain from their backs and it’s warm water and hot temperatures during hurricane season, so no worries about cold, wet horses. We had very sandy soil on the first farm so the paddocks drained just fine. Our current farm has a lot of clay (and great pastures!) so we had to put rock down in the paddocks for drainage. Get a soil test done through UF and figure out how well your land drains. You want your barn on high ground (always) just like your house. You should build it far enough away from trees or assess the health of the trees next to your barn to be sure they aren’t at risk of dropping limbs. Shade is good. Let me know if you have any more questions.


Clearing land: Look up the county extension agent for your county and find the number for the county forester. They can help you assess your trees for possible harvest. Pine trees are worth quite a bit. Hardwoods will cost you a lot to remove. People get screwed over easily because they pay too much for someone to remove or thin their pine trees without knowing they are worth money, which should offset some of your costs. If you have oaks, you might just want to brush hog the undergrowth and leave them be. It depends on your concerns over acorns dropping. You can manage those risks by watching the trees to see when they are likely not drop acorns (it’s not every year) and removing horses from the pasture while the wild animals harvest the majority of acorns. Also, there are several invasive tree species and species that will cause issues for horses, such as red maple, if not properly maintained. You want to know what trees you have to make a plan. If you like a particular tree, don’t cut all the trees around it or it might die. Trees needs each other. Keep them in clusters, rather than singles. Pine trees can become unhealthy form a disease carried by oaks. that’s what happened to us. Someone planted harvest pines and left hem without harvesting. By the time we bought the place, those pines were sick and the hardwoods trying to grow in between is what what we kept. The sick pines were harvested before they fell on their own. they could still be used, so it helped offset the cost. The exceptions some of the very large live oaks. Have the forester help you decide what to keep and what to cut. Stump grinding is an additional cost and not typically done by loggers. They will top and cut and remove. They’ll also burn the remaining debris, but it will still be quite a bit of work to clean up and then, you’ll have stumps left behind. We let our stumps break down on their own. It worked for us. Within five years, carpenter ants and other creatures break down most of the stumps. If it isn’t that many trees, it might be better to go that route. The stumps themselves have a ton of accumulated nutrients that they will continue to feed into the soil for many years after the tree is cut down (Giving Tree style). many loggers cut almost flush with the ground which is a mixed blessing. You can’t put a fence post into that spot and it will break down over time, but it usually ends up flat because soil will fill in the spaces as the stump breaks down. If the logger can’t cut flush, look for another or just have them harvest and deal with the stumps. You can hire someone to stump grind, but it’s also pretty expensive.

Okay, that was a book or two of info. Hope it helps.


Welcome to the area. I’m just north of Gainesville. I prefer a fully open pole barn. You can get metal fence panels to create stalls underneath if you need stalls.

Anything to maximize airflow. I have a lovely barn but it’s too hot to use in the summer. Even with fans, there’s not enough airflow.

If you build your barn under trees so there’s shade that lowers your barn temperature but is not so good in a hurricane. People around here bush hog their pastures… Burning makes for bad neighbors because your smoke always ends up in someone’s yard.

What type of barn you build depends on how many horses you have and what your needs are.

If you use metal fence panels as stalls you can put a barrel fan at ground level and it will blow across all the stalls. If you build individual stalls, every stall will need a fan.

Thank you! Yeah that’s the style I had down in south Florida too. I will definitely have both electric and water in the barn; even when I was in south Florida I demanded an inside wash rack and it really came in handy.
The property is sandy soil. It was one of the things I actually was really adamant on which confused my realtor, since I guess most people around there want the clay soil so they have good grass. My horses will have wonderful grass up here in VA, when I’m in FL I don’t want any mud at all.

The trees are all pines, so eventually I may have someone come and harvest them, but for now I’m leaving them up as there aren’t that many of them. The majority of the stuff on the property is underbrush and tiny little saplings that can go with a bush hog.

That sounds a bit like the California style barns. I was considering doing something similar, but I was worried that maybe it would be too open and I’d end up with soaked stalls and no respite from the bugs.

I do have to have real stalls, no metal panels. I have too accident prone of horses :slight_smile:

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That’s interesting that you prefer sandy soil. At the old barn, we did regular Sandclear mashes and checked their poop. Sand colic is a real threat. Even with clay under the stalls, the sand got into the stalls at our old place. It isn’t nearly as bad here where it’s more natural clay. I never found a feeder that adequately kept the horses from eating off their bedding at the old sandy farm. No matter how fluffy the shavings, the sand was always present. We feed in big, black rubber tubs and dump them out before putting fresh hay in them. We never feed the horses coastal hay. Went down that road and had colics.

When I was in Ft Lauderdale and Wellington, we had coral sand and fine sugar sand. You learn the live with it and I didn’t mind it too much because it meant I didn’t get mud. We would get massive rainstorms and the pastures would flood, but there was no mud.

Then I moved to southern pines, where the ground was sugar sand and some dirt in places, if you got lucky. The stalls there had been dug out and backfilled in with dirt at some point, and so I never had to worry about sand in the stalls.
I did worry (and once deal with) sand colic, so I fed assure plus to everyone every few months at the recommendation of my vet to prevent sand colic. It was expensive but worked.

The most irritating thing to me about the sand was how it got everywhere in the house. Every floor, surface, etc would end up with a fine coating of sand dust. Sand in the corners of the car, sand in the corner of the bathroom, sand everywhere. Like living at the beach!

I’m not super concerned about sand colic because I won’t be there year round. That’s why I’m not particularly concerned about grass either; my horses would be standing around in the snow staring at me in January and February anyways, so I don’t think they would mind trading snow covered grass for warm sand.
My current plan is to be down in Ocala mid January-March, and then again for probably a month or so in the summer to enjoy the air conditioning at WEC. Last summer in the end of July, it was 105 degrees here with high humidity for a week. We had a record high of 110 degrees one day. I didn’t show at all because it was so dang hot. So I’ll probably bring anyone showing down to WEC to beat the heat. How strange to think I’ll need to go south to get cooler!

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Moonlitoaks barns look great. I would make the overhangs 10 or 12 feet which would help keep sun from beating in and you can also tie or crosstie on that side instead of in the aisle. I’d also put gutters on because the heavy rains will make a river at the sides.

My old farm had a ‘traditional’ barn and an ‘open’ pole barn. The pole barn was much cooler. Now I think it should be illegal to build ‘traditional’ type barns in Florida :slightly_smiling_face:


Lol! That is a strange thought. Sounds like a good plan.

Ahhh… Ocala! No suggestions, but just melancholy about the time I lived and worked in the TB industry in Ocala in the late 1970’s when the entire KY and NY racing groups wintered there.
I often wonder what happened to Mockingbird Farm and Dorchester Farm, where I spent the majority of my time. Cutting edge place back in the day. Jack Price (Carry Back 1963 Kentucky Derby winner) had cutting edge practices too. Loved his horses to be horses until they went into full training at the tracks.


I have a sandy clay mix under a thin layer of topsoil. It’s sandy enough to drain basically instantly (I’ve got a good natural grade too so that helps) but enough clay to grow a ton of grass. I have zero mud and it’s lovely. I abhor mud myself so I understand wanting to avoid the heavier clay.

I have an open air barn thingy and it was the best choice for me since I’m here year round. I’m by Pensacola but I imagine the weather is very similar to Ocala. Since you only intend to be here in winter and briefly in summer, you likely can be more flexible with your build if you want more solid walls. IMO tall sidewalls and no loft help keep barns cool here.

For your land cleaning it sounds like you need a guy with a skid steer with the chipper/mulcher thingy if it’s more than you want to bush hog. If it’s thick brush my experience is that a contractor will opt for the skid steer as it’s less likely to be damaged than bush hog if there are small trees n stuff. Burning or not will likely depend on the season and if the locality has burn bans. Check into that maybe.

Call this guy for your well:
David Wallace (352) 239-0095
He’s a character but I’ve had excellent service.

My friend has used this guy for clearing in reddick
Brad Hetzl 352-245-8515

I have another name but I will have to look for the card. I’ll post if I find it.
Had the other name in contacts. Jason Goyette (352) 816-8727. He might be able to help w the seeding and clearing

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