Unlimited access >

Property layout help

Well, assuming the home inspection doesn’t expose anything glaring, I am the proud new owner of 5 acres. The back 2.5 is in soybeans right now, so the horses aren’t coming home for at least 10-12 months.

While I am familiar with many things “farm” having helped out my former BO for years and years, there’s a difference between owning it and working on it. You guys are also geniuses at layouts, I’ve seen you do it before.

The area highlighted will be fenced for the dogs.

The pole barn is 40x60, and is an empty shell. Some of that needs to be retained for parking/storage/equipment. It is also possible this doesn’t get used for horse stuff at all. Large sliding doors on the north and the west side.

Here’s the wants:

-horses out 24/7
-sacrifice area that houses the round bale feeder and water trough, as well as a run in if needed
-connected to pastures so that they can be rotated as much as possible
-small outdoor arena, maybe 80x120 or so?
-AFFORDABLE, as much as possible.


Has anyone converted a farm field to pasture? Tips? (at least it’s in beans and not corn)


I am not sure what kind of tips you want. The best advice is to talk with people who know the conditions where you are and listen to them.
It will depend on what your soil conditions and all that are.
Have the soil tested and talk to the cooperative extension agent in the area, they will give you all the information you need on how best to plant it for a pasture.

Ours was previously corn. We treated the soil per the advice of the cooperative extension agent, after we had it tested and then planted the seed mix they recommended.
We did not let horses on it for a full year. Mowing it regularly.

Where do you plan to store your hay? That, to me, is one of the biggest logistical nightmares of having horses at home, enough safe storage space for hay.


Leveling, and your mowing description is what I wanted. Beans should leave it more level, and with higher nutrient content than with corn, but I’ll send it out and have it tested. Where did you purchase seed? Did you plant spring, or fall?

Hay: Outside. I intend to feed rounds. I could build a shed on the north side of the pole barn for implements and a few rounds - I don’t think I’ll be able to store more than that. Or perhaps an overhang on the east side, but setbacks and access may be an issue.

1 Like

Mr. Trub did all the communication and work associated with planting our fields but from what I remember he did not do anything differently to prep/level the pasture than he did for the hay field. Think about it, no one wants a bumpy hay field either.

We bought the seed from the local farmers co-op in the mix recommended by the extension agent.

We planted in late spring, early summer (a little late) because or our soil conditions (clay) and things being wet because of our location.

Dealing with someone knowledgeable about your area is truly the best thing.
We also became very good friend with an old farmer that lived near by and he was a huge help with lots of things. He loved teaching Mr. Trub all things farming.


There are horse people on both sides of the property, and cows to the south. I won’t bother calling until after it’s passed the home inspection, but after that I’ll get familiar with the local co-op and ag extension. Thanks!


Is there septic and/or a drain field to work around?

We lose a good chunk of otherwise useable space to our drain field.

Don’t underestimate hay storage. I’m sure you have already thought about all these logistics, but regardless of how you are getting your hay (pickup or delivery), there is always a chance you won’t be able to get it when you need it. I’m not trying to be a negative Nancy; I don’t have much hay storage here. I make do, but I hate it. It means I need to have a plan A, B, C, and D at the ready in the winter… and still have to be aware and plan ahead to not get myself in a bind. It’s stressful. My hay shed was supposed to be built this summer but life needs to stop throwing unexpected expenses. :money_mouth_face:

Apart from that, the area to the right of the driveway looks like it would make a nice sacrifice area. Then you could just fence off the soybean field, taking a corner for your arena. I think on small acreage, an arena that can double as turnout space is helpful. However, a lot of people are strongly opposed to that and for good reason- depending on how much earth moving you do to build your arena, it can be way too expensive to subject it to constant hoof traffic.


The drain field is either right in front of or right behind the house. The area for the dogs should be ok if on a leach field, and the front is the front. I find front yards to be a total waste of space - can’t garden because of deer, can’t run dogs on it because no fence and too close to the road - but you still have to mow it and keep it pretty. UGH.

Too bad we aren’t still in a drought, you could see everyone’s leach fields clear as day haha. Well and septic will be part of the inspection, so that should clear up that question. The septic suck out pipe thing or whatever it’s called is up front.

I was thinking of doubling up the arena and sacrifice area, but I don’t fancy having to clean out THAT much space. I wouldn’t mind occasional turnout in an arena, but don’t want horses tearing around in there too much, or tracking a bunch of hay or other crap in there.

I assumed that since the large area was farmed it was free of that stuff and that if there is a leach field it was in the dog yard area.

That is a great question, I should not have assumed.

1 Like

In the listing photos, I think I see faint lines in the backyard indicative of a leach field. If I were to bet, it’s back there. The inspector will know for sure.

This house and property are an estate, so the sellers don’t know much.

Me too. But in your case, it looks like a pretty small space that may not be useable for dry lot or arena. Especially not with the trees. Plus, some areas have zoning ordinances about pasture in front yard- not where I currently live, but it was a common thing where I grew up.

Can you not fence it for the dogs, though? Then take some of the dog area for pasture/dry lot/arena.


I’m not sure how the propane delivery works out here, the tank is to the west of the house. If they deliver when we aren’t home, the dogs have a dog door and are out at all times.

That’s something to think about though, if we can coordinate it with the propane guy.

Are you accustomed to using round bales? Do you already have a tractor to move and handle them? Round bales can vary a lot in size and weight, from 600 to 2000 lbs each. Your tractor must be up for the job, suitable for the size of bales you can source. While round bales sometimes are stored outside, how well that works depends a lot on your weather and rainfall. We are fairly dry here, and did store some outside the first year we were here only because we had no barn yet. It did result in some damage to the hay, and it is now stored in the barn we built for the purpose. We prefer them stored under shelter, especially for horses. To pick them up, move them, and drop them into a feeder, you need both the tractor and the ability to access and manouver the tractor in both storage and equine habitation. You can’t roll a large round bale by hand. Small round bales, maybe you can roll by hand on a dry, level and firm surface, but not in mud or snow.

I dunno if any of this helps you, but there it is anyway.

For a riding arena, if you have length, you can compromise on width.

I’d make part of the shelter a communal horse shelter, opening out onto a sacrifice paddock. With a gate to open out onto your grazing field for use as appropriate. Use a mobile electric wire to achieve rotational grazing there. I’d also store the round bales also in that building, and shift them into a feeder with access to the horses in the shelter, especially if there is much rainfall in the area. Push the bale a little closer to a feeding access as the horses work their way into it, with the tractor. That way you don’t have to take your tractor into the paddock with the horses. If you want the bale outside with the horses arranged around it to eat, that can work too, but it will probably get muddy around it.

Good luck with the purchase.


Honestly, I am not. I am familiar with the tractor requirements. If that’s not in the cards, I’d still like to try for the big 6 stringers. Just trying to keep down on cost.

I’d prefer the horses to stand around the feeder. My Old Man horse can be a prick about this, so I hope he settles down once he realizes there’s enough for everyone. I don’t know if he would tolerate a horse eating directly next to him.

I don’t know what your work schedule is, but I can tell you that at my house the propane is always delivered during what one would consider normal working hours on a week day.
They do not give us a heads up when they are coming either. They just start beeping backwards down the driveway.


:partying_face: Welcome to Horses at Home!

You can take my 2¢ with a spoonful of salt.
Since seeing your lovely garden photos, my Laziest Farmer in the World advice may not be your Cup O’ Tea :roll_eyes:

My 5ac was a bit more than 1/2 in beans/corn when I bought it (viewed in December), field was leased to a farmer.
I did not renew the lease & built my barn w/attached indoor that Spring.
I had the small pasture drill-seeded & closed it off, then handwalked a spreader (seed from Crown Feed) in the big field, but left that open to the 2 horses I had then.
I didn’t see a huge difference, so never reseeded either.
Today - 19yrs later - my fields are not what anyone would call lush, but keep horses happy & I feed a lot less hay when there’s grass.
Fenced off ~2ac for a pasture East of the barn, surrounded front of barn w/drylot & smaller - 1/2ac - pasture to the West. All can be closed off with gates.
My barn is 36X36 pole building, 12’ wide aisle.
Stalls along the East wall - prevailing winds & weather more often from North & West - Dutch doors at the back stay open.
My year’s supply of hay is stacked on pallets inside the barn, West wall.
Horses are out 24/7/365, bring themselves in for grain & nightcheck < because: cookies :smirk:
If you can make your pastures accessible like this it makes life easier.
This morning I had a single pile to pick out of 1 of 3 stalls.
I don’t pick pastures. Mowing & Bushhog “mulches” any piles.
I do pick the drylot, but not 100% & once the ground freezes, all bets are off.
Drylot was dug down 9", geotex laid & filled with what excavator called Road Base: gravel from fistsized to pea. Horses W/T/C, even gallop, on the surface & no problems. No mud except at the gates, where I foolishly told him to not put down the geotex :roll_eyes:

Hope you can glean something from my Grasshopper Style. :grin:


Feeding rounds requires a lot of “stuff.

You need a hefty tractor. Ideally you need a hay fork, but you can strap them to a FEL if only moving them a short distance. That won’t work for stacking, unloading, etc. Ours is 28HP and can move smallish round bales from point A to point B on level ground, but not much else. Some people have a set up where a truck can drive right into the field and drop them (I usually do that myself), which means you can get by without a tractor. But that doesn’t always work.

You really need feeders for it to be cost-saving in my experience. When I put out round bales without a feeder, it ends up costing me more than small bales due to wastage.

If you get mud in your area, that’s a consideration. It’s not ideal to be driving a truck or tractor into the field if muddy (and sometimes impossible without 4x4).

Pickup and delivery are tricky. I can fit 2 smallish ones in the full size bed of my truck. That will maybe last me 2 weeks (being fed in the field without a feeder). I can also only fit 2 on my trailer. I could have them delivered, but I have no storage for them. In my area, storing hay outdoors does not work. It’s too wet. Plus, relying on hay delivery in the winter can be dicey, especially for the small farm owner. Even the most reliable hay supplier will have weather impact their ability to deliver.

It’s hard to tell the quality of the inside of a round bale from the outside. There is nothing more soul crushing than putting a bale in the field and realizing the horses can’t or won’t touch it. :rofl:

Again, I’m not trying to be negative— just trying to keep it real. A lot of times rounds get billed as this super easy and cheap way to feed, but there are situations where they become neither cheaper nor easier.


Nope, this is all excellent info.

I’ve seen the “dicey” way to handle and move the big 6 stringers, and know the proper way to do it requires again a skid-steer, but do you have any experience with the big squares? Or did you settle for the small squares because you didn’t have equipment for the big stuff (or it was more wasteful etc etc)?

I don’t have anywhere to put a 6 string bale!

At farms where I have used them, they have been large barns or wide aisles where they can be dropped. I have a shedrow barn.

1 Like

The septic people will show you where the tank is for pumping, and where the drain field is too. It may be in the front yard, or on the side too.

The propane service will park in the driveway, and have hoses to stretch to the tank, and it may be close enough to access and fill from the front side across the fence. It may be easier to have the fence company put a jog in the fence behind the tank too. If you do that, then leave enough room to replace the tank, if that ever becomes necessary. Then, the propane company could fill the tank without worrying about the dogs.


Round bales will not be cheaper if you have to buy a large tractor with a front end loader unless you can find one heck of a deal. I feed regular square bales and 3x3x8 bales. My 22 HP tractor will not handle 3x3x8 bales. Bummer! BUT I have found that the best option for me was to buy a 16’x8’ flatbed trailer, park it under the overhang on the barn and feed flakes off the big bales that way. Much less waste especially since I am buying shipped in Western hay in that size bales. And in the summer I buy regular small bales and just feed them off the trailer. Less work that way and the bottom layer of hay doesn’t get damp and musty. I can get 6 months or so of hay on my trailer and because of the heat and humidity here that is about all I can store without mold/ mustiness issues. I do have a good bit of grass though.

You will not ever have too much storage for equipment.