Here's another example, and the topic of this post: I installed a dry lot to save the pasture in bad weather, get the horses out of their stalls, and save myself labor as far as turn in/out and stall cleaning--and now I've found that there are more things I need to do to make that work. Specifically, I need somewhere to store hay near the dry lot.
Building hay storage into the shed wasn't very practical because of how the shed is sited (on the far side of the dry lot, abutting the field). Last winter I stored hay for turnout on a pallet covered in tarp, but that system doesn't work well in warmer weather when the hay is more likely to get moldy. I decided to put a 4'x8' shed with double front doors near the main gate to the dry lot. That should leave room for a couple pallets of hay (my goal is to keep a week's worth), a couple bars for hanging spare (dry) blankets, and a few hooks for miscellaneous things like feed bags.
I'm fairly handy and have a lot of tools, so I thought building it myself might be an option. I found these instructions that seemed pretty straightforward. To estimate cost, I added all of the materials I would need to a Home Depot shopping cart, which quickly reached almost $600, not even including the roof and doors! I decided that once I factored in those things and the opportunity cost of my time (and inevitable frustration as something didn't go as planned), maybe the DIY option wasn't worthwhile after all.
I spent a day shopping around online with little success. Many lower-cost options are metal, which I don't want for hay storage due to lack of breathability, and many wooden ones were too big (starting at 8'x8'). Finally I emailed a local place where a friend had bought a very large and extravagant shed a few months back. I was in luck! They had a 4'x8' lean-to style shed with the exact configuration I wanted, and it was even painted green with off-white trim, to complement (or at least not clash too badly with) my light-green-with-white-trim run-in. Including tax and delivery, it would cost $1,090. As much as I didn't want to spend that, it was only a few hundred dollars more than the DIY idea would cost, and I wouldn't have to kill an entire weekend building the thing.
Over the weekend, I chose a level site near the gate and prepped it by stripping the topsoil with the tractor. This was much easier than I expected, as my tractor is only 23 HP. Apparently the ground was just the right amount of soft for the job, without being wet or mucky. I tidied up the edges a bit with the shovel and retired to the house rather proud of my hour's work!
|Dominick the Donkey provided expert supervision during site prep.|
The hole ended up being 18" longer and wider than the shed, which is what the internet recommends (so it must be true, right?). It was about 6-7" deep. I was aiming for 12" wider and 4" deep but my tractor skills aren't all that refined.
The next day, the local landscape supply store delivered a load of CR-6. I was originally planning on ordering 1 ton but since I got a little overzealous with the tractor, I decided 2 would be safer. It was about $30 per ton plus a $30 delivery fee, so around $90 total.
After the stone was delivered, I spread it around in the hole with the tractor bucket, then leveled it roughly. I wet it down to aid in compaction, topped it off with a bucketful of stonedust from my stockpile (handy stuff!), then drove back and forth many times, checking level once in a while. I think a plate compactor is recommended but this shed is relatively small and has its own 4x4 base and skids, so I was a little casual about it.
I was sure when I first wrote this post 1.5 years ago (whoops!) that a family of coyotes or something would move into it and cause yet another problem for me to solve, but so far this shed has been problem-free! It has even withstood some really high winds, despite the fact that I never got around to anchoring it like maybe I should.