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Hopefully, if you are a Do-It-Yourselfer, this page will be of some interest!
Want to build a pole barn?
(These details were published by The Scottish Agricultural Colleges in the 1970's for crofters but I think will now be out of print. If I am in breach of copyright and you hold the rights, please email me. They are too useful to be left dormant).
When I visited a friend who had just moved into a new house, he showed me a timber stable block in the garden and mentioned that he intended burning it! I quickly said, "Oh no you don't. I'll have it!" Easier said than done.
The stable block was at the bottom of a steep bank with no vehicular access. The problem was finally solved by taking it to pieces and dragging each section up the bank with a long rope and the quad. It is now re-erected on concrete strip foundations at the Morrich Stud.
It has an earth floor with 150mm of pea gravel on top. I've taken the precaution of laying a perforated drain pipe under the length of the stables leading into a large soakaway. I've used pea gravel in the field shelter and it works really well.
Picture left: The old timber stables on the original site looking rather sad -- it was down the bottom of a steep bank. It was fun moving the disassembled sections. The only way was to drag them up with a long rope using the ATV!
The roof, which was full of holes, was re-used for the walls of the field shelter. The re-erected stables will have a new box section roof. The timber is actually in good condition.
Picture left: Strip foundations almost complete. You can see the trench with the buried perforated pipe to a soakaway filled with pea gravel and the water pipe dug in.
Picture left: The back wall sections are dropped into place using the tractor loader.
The structure is almost complete!
The roof is now sheeted and I am just waiting for the edge flashing to arrive and to fit the ventilators above the door. The stables have been power washed ready for spraying with timber preservative. I think it looks quite smart, don't you?
Just about complete and looking quite pretty after a lick of Cuprinol!
Putting in the posts. The posts were too heavy for one man to lift, but were sunk into four foot holes by myself using a cunning arrangement of "A" frames. If I'd thought about it, I could have slid them into the holes from the tipping trailer! And, of course, I've since got a tractor with a fore loader. Ah well, I'll do that next time!
The posts, by the way, are the same diameter and the same treated posts timber yards sell as strainers for agricultural fencing except they are 12 foot long.
All the posts have been secured with rammed hard core in the holes and the roof timbers (150mm x 50mm) are being nailed in place.
The shelter measures 30ft long by 12ft wide and has since be strengthened on the advice of my architect with bracing on all posts.
Here is a shot of the inside. Note the bracing on each upright. The plastic builders' damp proof membrane is a cheap way to stop condensation dripping from the underside of the corrugated iron roof in humid weather.
The sides were orginally the roof of the old freebie stable. As a roof, it leaked like a seive, but it is heavy grade and works well for the walls. Where I ran out roofing, I used 25mm boards.
The purlins are joined to the tops of the posts with large square headed screws. It probably would have been better to have rebated the tops of the posts for these beams to sit on but it is still quite strong.
Don't forget that mine has to withstand the gales we get here in the north of Scotland, as well as horses rubbing.
You can buy those flat perforated plates for the bracing from your local builders' merchants. Saves having to do fancy joinery to join the timbers! They hold against the shelter moving sideways and the whole structure folding.
Perforated metal strips are nailed on to hold the roof down so the wind cannot take it off. That's important in the Scottish weather. Note the over-laps. Don't cut timber unless you have to. One day you might want to take it down and re-use the timber.
Gates need to be extended upwards, even for young foals.
One of my newly weaned Highlands jumped the gate at 5 months, getting his hind leg trapped between the two top rails. He just hung there! Fortunately, we got him free quite quickly and he was not even limping next day. Highlands are tough!
It was easy to extend the height of the gates by putting a 3" x 1" rail on each side and bolting through, then screwing a board along the top.
Since finishing the shelter, I've installed gates and a divider so a section can be partitioned off. You can see the bracing at the top of the posts. There is also a self-fill water bowl attached to the back wall. A rain water gutter has been fixed along the back and rainwater is piped from the downpipe to a pipe under the shelter and then to a nearby ditch.
The floor is finished with pea gravel which is cheap and dry.
The left hand gate opens out to meet the gate to the round pen which makes a neat arrangement, either for shedding a pony off or giving access between the shed (with water trough) and the round pen.
FROST PROOFING WATER TROUGHS
You need a drinking trough on a mains connection not on a tariff for this suggestion!
Drill a hole below the fill level and get a fitting from your local plumber's mercant for connecting an alkathene water pipe to a plastic cold water tank -- cost about £5.
Position the end of the over flow pipe so it discharges into a drain or ditch. You can regulate the flow, even turn it off, by raising or lowering the pipe. Mine is tied up with some baler string during summer and adjusted to just trickle in frosty weather.
The round pen has proved to be one of the most useful pieces of kit on the farm. We use it at least a couple of times a week.
Gates from the field shelter open directly into the pen and there is another gate where a horse trailer can be backed up for loading training. I got my fencing contractor to use his machine to drive the 30 or so posts home which saved a lot of work.
Next, the posts were boarded and the gates hung.
You don't need a solid fence, just boarding at eye level and another row lower down. Then white tape cable tied to wire in between.
Here some of the youngsters get some "environment enrichment". They get their dinner next to the flapping plastic sheet and so become less sensitive to frightening objects. Well, that's the theory!
Note the turning post in the centre of the round pen. That is very useful too!