Janet drove into the driveway to her 5-acre property tired from a long work shift and glad to be home. In the dusk she could see headlights coming down the steep hill from her house. A large delivery truck barreled towards her. There was no time to back up her vehicle out of harm’s way, so Janet deftly drove her little car onto the grass between two trees and waited for the truck to pass. The big box store logo flashed past without the truck slowing down or the driver making any acknowledgement of her presence.
As she pulled the car up to the front of the garage Janet was amazed to see two huge pallets of building materials set out on the tarmac in front of the building. Her reaction was one of delight. Finally the new horse barn build looked like it was going to begin.
The contractor Tony had been promising work would start on the barn for six weeks now. Winter was already periodically casting her cold white cloak of snow around the neighborhood and Janet was anxious to get housing for her two elderly geldings established as soon as possible.
A low profile pole barn with two stalls and a small storage area was to be constructed. At the moment Janet’s beloved horses had to share a tiny itty-bitty run-in shed in one of the paddocks for shelter. The only other paddock had no shelter at all and a ferocious North wind hit the side of the hill during the winter months across its rolling terrain.
Joe, Janet’s husband, was not quite as pleased to see the heavy pallets of lumber in the middle of the driveway when he returned home later that night.
“Why did they drop the stuff there? What a stupid place to put it. It’s right in front of the garage doors. We won’t be able to park inside and there’s a storm coming in tomorrow,” Joe admonished, as if it was Janet’s fault.
It was the weekend and Janet was grateful for a few days off work. She called Tony to find out when he would be bringing his crew on site. He actually picked up the call. This was a highly unusual event in Janet’s recent experience.
Janet slept soundly that night, content with her contractor’s assurance that the hole digging for the pole barn would commence on Monday and he would have the whole build completed in ‘no time at all’.
Two weeks passed. The pallets remained a blockade to accessing the garage. Joe grumbled about the constant need to clear snow off his pick up truck every morning before work. Janet became increasingly annoyed that Tony had not appeared and that he had reverted to not answering her phone call or texts and hadn’t called her back.
After another hectic week at work due to the forthcoming Christmas holidays, Janet was rudely awoken at dawn by a commotion outside her bedroom window. An old dump truck towing a trailer with an ancient excavator aboard was attempting to drive into the paddock through the gate and had become stuck in the mud.
Janet was horrified. Her horses were turned out in this paddock and the gate was swinging back and forth in the wind. It hit the truck at regular intervals and elicited a loud banging noise as it made contact, metal on metal. Janet shook Joe awake before bolting downstairs in her PJ’s. She pulled on a pair of boots and a heavy canvas jacket, rapidly unlocked the back door and ran out into the back yard.
The awful din had stopped. The gate and gatepost lay on the ground. The gate was now a twisted piece of metal. The dump truck and its loaded trailer were stuck at the entrance to the paddock. The worn tires of the truck spun mud into the air as the driver tried to move the vehicle forward.
Meantime the two geldings could be heard in the fog galloping back and forth. Occasional snorts emanated from them as they periodically paused to assess the invasion.
After much cajoling with grain buckets in hand, Janet and Joe managed to halter the geldings and moved the horses to the adjoining paddock. With no means to manage their winter coats that were lathered with sweat, Janet attempted to rub their backs down with handfuls of hay and dry them off with old towels, while Joe gallantly held the fractious horses by their lead ropes. The horses were eventually calmed down enough to let loose to eat the large hay pile that Janet had thrown into the far side of the paddock.
The screaming noise of the revved out truck engine, interjected by loud cursing emanating from the construction crewmembers, had ceased from the other paddock. Janet and Joe walked over to assess the situation. Tony was nowhere to be seen but the two young men that were bundled up in woolly hats and dirty coveralls gruffly apologized for the damage.
Janet explained to them that the pad for the barn had already been completed and pointed out it wasn’t in the paddock at all, it was to the side of the house. Tony had been shown exactly where the site for the barn was placed. It had been ready since late summer. Unfortunately that piece of information had not been relayed to the men who it turned out were subcontractors that Tony had sent in to dig the holes for the 6” x 6” lumber that was to support the framing of the horse barn.
The excavation crew spent the weekend digging holes for poles with the excavator. The noise of machinery droned on and on, but thankfully finished each night when darkness fell.
Janet wasn’t happy about the guys tromping in an out of her house to use the bathroom, but they did remove their muddy boots at the door when she insisted it was necessary.
At the end of each day Janet and Joe would go out to see the progress that had been made on the site. Joe remarked the holes looked enormous in width for the size of lumber that was to be placed in them and that the depth of each hole seemed to vary a lot.
The area was littered with large rocks that had been pulled from the ground and pushed away to the outside of the building site apron area. The once beautifully compacted and leveled surface of the site was chewed up with track marks from the heavy equipment.
Janet arrived home a few days later to find the big machinery had been removed from the property and all was peaceful and quiet. She noted some downed branches on the driveway, where the driver had for some unknown reason diverted off the actual driveway and onto the grass verge. Large ruts were visible on what was once lawn, and a few forsythia bushes looked squished.
Over the next three weeks a myriad of events happened. Tony showed up at the property with another guy and the two set about raising the large lumber 6” x 6” timber into the holes. Dirt was tamped back in around them and then 2” x 4” girts were nailed at intervals and laddered between the poles and T1-11 panels were added. Rafters appeared on the barn fastened with screws.
In the driveway the previous pallets of lumber were replaced with pallets of plywood wrapped in plastic. Rolls of tarpaper rested on the top of the pile.
The delivery driver had even made an effort to place the pallets away from the garage doors so Joe was able to use the structure again for parking needs.
Janet became ever more excited at the prospect of finally having her dream barn in the backyard and being able to bring her horses in during cold winter nights and have a place to groom and care for them.
Meantime the wrecked gate had been replaced by Tony and installed with a new gatepost so the horses were back in their regular paddock offering them a shelter option with the run-in shed.
It seemed to Janet that things were all on track once again and she hoped the barn would be finished in time for Christmas.
A few days later Janet’s cell phone lit up with text messages from the neighbors as she was clocking out from work. Apparently her horses had been sighted running down the road.
Janet arrived home to discover high winds had blown tarpaper off the roof. Large sheets of plastic that had previously wrapped the pallets were pinned against the board-fenced pasture and her horses were nowhere to be found.
Neighbors pitched in to drive up and down the road attempting to locate the horses. Janet endured an anguished one-hour search for her horses. Finally, the escapees were discovered in the garden of a lady just a few doors down from Janet’s smallholding.
The elderly lady had taken her dog out to do his evening business, and to her dismay heard loud rustling in the bushes behind her house, as if something large was crashing about in the undergrowth. Worried that it was a bear she had sensibly gathered up her Pekinese dog and run inside and then peered out of her kitchen window to ascertain the nature of the beast from a safe distance. Much to her surprise a horse had appeared on her lawn, and another one had followed.
Janet and Joe captured the horses and walked them home with the assistance of the local constable who drove a distance behind them with lights flashing to forewarn other motorists of their presence. Thankfully aside from a few superficial scratches the horses seemed uninjured.
The flying debris has spooked the geldings and in their panic they had attempted to jump out of the paddock. Their mixed athletic success meant the fencing was damaged and once again the geldings were moved to the second paddock while it awaited repair.
Tony was called and came the next day to fix the roof. He dutifully picked up the plastic debris and banished it to the bed of his pick up truck.
A few days later Janet noticed one of her horses was badly lame. The vet was called in and declared it was likely an abscess. The doctor was proven right a week later. After morning and night Epsom salt baths in a bucket and poultices had been administered to the horse while standing out in the open field, and finally an abscess had burst through the sole of the horse’s hoof. Janet and Joe were exhausted from working on the horse in the cold wind and worrying over the outcome. The correct diagnosis and curative success was a great relief to both horse and humans.
On Christmas Eve the barn was finally completed. Tony came to the back door with his final bill in hand. Janet wrote a check in payment, after she had noted the final cost was much higher than the original quote and had brought the matter up with Tony.
“My price was just an estimate, not a quotation,” Tony quickly explained. “ I had to substitute shingles for metal roof because it was going to take too long to get the metal. I had to pay for the gate and gatepost and it took more time than I thought to do the work so had to pay my guy for the extra labor.”
Janet closed the door thankful that at least she finally had her barn. She would wait until the morning light to use it. It would be fun laying in the shavings to the stalls and setting up the beds and assembling the tools and feed she had been storing in the garage.
Early Christmas Day Janet drew back the curtains of the bedroom and was greeted by bright sunshine and a heavy haw frost. The property looked magical.
Eager to see her horses with a need to find the time between fixing Christmas dinner to get started with setting up the barn, Janet quickly showered and dressed and headed outside.
Joe joined her and they stood on the side porch holding their morning cups of coffee with their arms around each other marveling at the new barn from this different view.
Their college age son had arrived the night before. He appeared this cold morning on the porch, wrapped in a blanket, sleepy eyed. He spilled coffee as he shuffled along to join them.
A few minutes passed as the three gazed at the brand new structure. The young man cocked his head to one side as he looked with his eagle eyes at the newly minted horse barn.
“Does that roofline look crooked to you?” he asked nonchalantly. “It doesn’t look level to me.”
Stay tuned to find out what happens next! Part 2 in this series will be available next month.
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About Horizon Structures: One horse or twenty, there’s one thing all horse owners have in common…the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners. At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart “horse-friendly” design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses’ stabling needs.
All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need –
Horizon Structures also sells chicken coops, equine hay feeders, greenhouses, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures and playsets.
Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook. Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business. He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.
For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at https://www.horizonstructures.com
Photos are available on request.
About Nikki Alvin-Smith:
Content Creator | PR Partner | Seasoned Writer | Brand Builder |
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Grand Prix Dressage
Please visit https://nikkialvinsmithstudio.com/ to learn more about her affordable services.