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November 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm #38164
My gf and I are in Louisiana right now looking to move to NC or CO within the next year and go off grid. We are going to buy around 10 acres of land and start the homestead development. We were discussing horses and was wondering if anyone has experience with upkeep, food, care etc. Will it be a full time job? Do horses require expensive medicine? Expensive to feed? Will 10 acres sustain two horses without much upkeep other than food? We want a pair of horses but do not want to spend 10 hours a day taking care of them. Any advice or experience would be appreciated.
DamianNovember 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm #43266
In CO the pasture and water are things to think about. They don’t use electric, at least much. Just the lights for their shelter. In CO you generally need 35 acres to drill a well, IF there is even water below. Grass is a lot more sparse, and you have to think of the cost of fencing a larger area. NC is a lot greener, but not as good for solar.
Over 2/3 of the US is good for solar(yellow or red);
and about 1/4 is good for wind power;December 3, 2012 at 9:04 pm #43572
Really the answer best fits yes and no. Are the horses for pets, pleasure, transportation, work, etc? What kind of time will you be devoting to them. They don’t require boatloads of time, but become much better companions with extra time devoted to training them, grooming them, bonding with them, etc.
Horses are indeed social creatures, I mean they are ok without companions, but flourish with companions and owners to spend a good deal of time with them. 10 acres is just fine for the horses in reality, but the key thing to note here is they will require quality fencing, if you don’t have a water source nearby you will have to provide for their water needs daily, and if the pasture isn’t a prolific producer of grass, you are likely to have to bring in supplemental food. None of which is overly expensive if you purchase from the right places, but it does add up over time.
Horses train up similarly to dogs meaning, a good raised horse will take action on command, the more you work with them, the more responsive they are. You can train one hardcore for 5 years, leave it alone for 1 year and you just wasted that 5 years raising the perfect horse. They can pull carts, they can provide transportation, they can work for you and make their expense well worth it, but how well that works out is solely up to you.
Here was our routine up until April 2011 when we lost 4 adult horses to lightning at one time (they were all standing under a tree when it got struck, 3 of them were pregnant so in essence we lost 5 horses and 2 mules). Get up in the morning, walk the fence line, love on the horses a few minutes, toss em some grain just because they like it, they had plenty of graze in the fields. Go to work, come home in the evening, walk the fence line, spend an hour or two fiddling with the horses and interacting with them, ride each of them once or twice per week to keep em tuned up, and once a month or so depending on weather take them on a trail ride.
They really didn’t take up too much time. I’d say 12 hours a week or so total with 4 horses, with 2 you could likely get away with 9 to 10. Funny thing is, 4 horses is no harder to care for than 2. But I wouldn’t go with anything less than two. A couple of good Mares you can get bred when you want more is a perfectly good start.
Oh yeah, medicines, nothing special, when you are at the COOP picking up supplemental food, grab your meds from the COOP, most coggins, UTD, and wormers are really cheap at the COOP, and you can just save a ton of money doing these meds yourself. I’m going average each horse costing us around $200 a year expenses getting vaccs and supplemental feed, once it’s all said and done. That number is once established, that doesn’t count tack and fencing. The up front costs can be pretty big, fencing 10 acres in for horses is going to run you likely around $2500 if you do the work yourself, no biggie, but a shelter is something that should be provided for them, that’s another $3000+ at least, then tack for each of them if you plan on riding them or carting them, that’s going to run you another $1000 or so depending on quality of tack.
I honestly don’t find them too much to keep at all. But in our current condition getting everything back up and running properly on the farm after everything got so ransacked by a tornado last year, they would have been too much for us in all honesty.
If you are getting established off grid I think they’d be too much, get established first, once established, fence off your property with a good quality fence, ensure you have water access of some sort on site for the horses, and buy a few sacks of quality feed. try to be a good owner to the horses, and see what happens. Worst case scenario you find you don’t like them. Sell them and recoup your initial investment, or heck, even give them away if they are more of a burden than you can bare. But don’t neglect them.
I have seen kid safe fantastic horses go from being a valued family pet to a skiddish unhappy mess after 3 years of neglect after her owner got sick, she stopped riding, she stopped carting, she stopped allowing people near her all together after only 3 years of not being handled by her owner.
If you can’t handle them properly and keep them up, or may be unwilling to do the work necessary to keep them up, I would skip the horses.
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