Pole barn updated for 50 more years of service

In the beginning, it didn't look like much. But close inspection revealed that what had started life 50 years ago as a simple pole barn was really a very well-engineered, sound, basic structural framework. Now it is a 40 by 50-foot horse barn with a spacious 25 by 40-foot aisle and eight roomy, well-ventilated 10 by 15-foot stalls.In the beginning, it didn't look like much. But close inspection revealed that what had started life 50 years ago as a simple pole barn was really a very well-engineered, sound, basic structural framework. Now it is a 40 by 50-foot horse barn with a spacious 25 by 40-foot aisle and eight roomy, well-ventilated 10 by 15-foot stalls.

Story originally posted by: Article & Photographs by David Klosterman and Patty McGuire

In the beginning, it didn’t look like much. But close inspection revealed that what had started life 50 years ago as a simple pole barn was really a very well-engineered, sound, basic structural framework. Now it is a 40 by 50-foot horse barn with a spacious 25 by 40-foot aisle and eight roomy, well-ventilated 10 by 15-foot stalls.

Here at K&M Ranch in Washington state, our operation focuses on breeding, foaling, weaning and training registered Paint and Quarter Horses for performance events. All age groups of our horses have ample pasture areas throughout the year, with supplemental feeding in the winter. Thus, our rebuilding project was designed with that in mind, rather than as a barn for boarding horses.

We started on the exterior of the old pole barn, adding 12-foot lean-tos on each side for hay and equipment storage. The exterior is now finished with metal siding and has large sliding doors front and back. Then we moved loads of dirt to provide a level entry and space for a round pen.

Next we insulated the exterior walls with fiberglass with an R20 rating. The interior walls of the barn start at floor level with 5 feet of continuous-span 2 by 10s. Above this, all walls are finished to ceiling height with 4 by 8-foot wafer board, and the roof interior is finished with 5/8-inch Sheetrock.

The stall division walls are also of continuous-span 2 by 10s, but to a height of 6 or 7 feet, whatever the preference. Better yet, these walls are completely removable. In a matter of minutes we can double the stall size for foaling or open up even more additional space to accommodate a group of foals for weaning.

The exterior windows at the end of each stall have been covered with grilles. This allows horses in the barn, especially the weanlings, to have some visual contact with other horses. This seems to have a calming effect even though the other horses are pastured at some distance.

The barn floor was brought to grade. The stall floors, which have a 10-inch base of washed gravel, were brought to final grade with 3/4-inch rubber stall mats.

Stall doors, windows and hardware were selected with strength, safety and efficiency in mind. Doors are welded steel sliders with grilled windows. Stall windows are of similar construction, but with pinned opener sections that allow for feeding and watering.

Barn ventilation has been very good with the large sliding doors on each end as well as the slider openings on all exterior windows. Although the barn can be heated with a 150,000-BTU, fan-circulated, propane area heater, that is intended only for periodic winter heating as needed.

Water enters the barn at a frost-free hydrant and was plumbed overhead with bibs at each stall and in the wash area. Excess run-off is collected in a floor drain, which is routed to a septic system.

Currently we are installing a video-monitoring system that will cover the stalls on one side of the barn during foaling season.

Although we had some help with the exterior part of this project, every board, nail and screw on the inside is ours. Since we both, like the barn, are over 50, it was a project that we took on with a lot of care and thought. We worked on the barn almost every day last summer in between horse care and training, fence replacement, and the numerous daily ranch chores. Remodeling the barn was truly a challenging experience, and the finished barn is our reward.

If 50 is the key figure here, then this barn – with care – should be good for another 50 years of quality, safe horse care. It was rebuilt with that in mind and finished with lots of planning and hard work – the same formula we follow with our horses.

After 30-plus years in Alaska (Dave in the bush-flying business and Patty as an oncology nurse), the couple moved to Clayton, Wash., and became full-time horse ranchers. Contact them at kmranch@icehouse.net.