|Pauls Mill stud barn—www.paulsmill.com|
My transformation to barn living was gradual; as a young adolescent, I lived in the Oakland suburbs and commuted to the boarding stable daily with my horse-crazy mother. Between 6th grade and 7th, we moved to rural Washington state. We brought the horses home, built a barn and an outdoor arena, and watched our hoofbeasts blossom from three to eleven. At 14, I moved with my mom to a new property where she was faced with a hard financial reality: she could build a barn, or she could build a house, but she couldn't build both.
We lived in comfort, and over my remaining years at home my mother worked to gradually expand our amenities; first, insulation and windows; later, electricity and phone service; eventually, plumbing. By the time I went off to college, my bedroom was positively civilized, though it's since been retired to llama-housing. My mom, years later, finally has a house (though I suspect she still spends most of her time in the barn).
I would like to have a barn of my own, and I do dream of the day. I doodle barns when I can't sleep, and I have a mental list of my various go-to designs; there's the budget barn, a no-frills shed row number; there's the house-over-barn luxury model, with a classy and refined home for five above elegant equine accommodations; there's the if-we-move-to-somewhere-snowy barn, with an attached arena and covered turnout. My mule and I could ride the winter out in total comfort.
What I have—a 16x16-ft. shed, built as a carport by the former property owners, reinforced for safety by my dear husband, and bedded with gravel and straw—does the job. My mule just fits next to Jasper Jules' goat loft and the shed-in-a-shed where Missy spends the coldest days. I have hay storage in a separate building, and a set of saw horses where I might rest my saddle and harness. We have a milking stand on our covered porch, and room for a ton and a half of hay. Enough.
Still, though—it's fun to dream. On a wet day, when I tire of currying my mule under the dripping rhododendron, it's fun to dream of a rubber-matted, cross-tied grooming stall with wall-mounted lighting and an attached heated tack room.