Friday, January 18, 2019

Backing out of a bad idea

A year ago I did a lot of research and purchased a batch of stable grids to raise and level the shelter floor on the back side of our barn. Between being busy in general and having one of the rainiest, wettest years on record in our area, we just got around to beginning this project a week ago.

When the grids first arrived I didn’t like what they are made of - a hard plastic. I thought when I ordered them they would be more rubbery and would have more give than they do, but figured they would still work and once covered the stiffness I didn’t like would actually do the job these grids are meant to do.

The shelter floor was difficult to level and I think my original idea of how to proceed with this project would have worked better than what ended up getting done back there, but hindsight is 20/20 and since I was unable to do the work myself I can’t complain much.

This morning I surveyed the quarter of the work that was done and made the call to abort the entire project. It wasn’t working well, and would be hard to undo if we went further. I spent an hour and a half undoing the work that had been done and still have another hour to go, but I think it’s the right decision. I’m going to pack in more screenings and get the floor leveled and to the proper height and then I’ll decide how to finish it off. The screenings are great for loafing but I like to be able to serve hay under the shelter on rainy days, and I don’t want the screenings dust getting mixed in.

History has shown that putting down mats that don’t totally fill the shelter lead to problems so we either need to cut the mats to a custom full-shelter floor fit or look at other options. The mats are easy to sweep and clean and are definitely comfortable for horses so maybe that’s the best plan overall.

When removing the grids that had already been put down and filled in I broke a number of the tabs that hold them together. The small pieces that broke off were hard and sharp and a hazard in my opinion. I suppose if snapped together and buried under stone they would be fine but I really didn’t like what happened as I tried to take them up. I have a large stack of them and now wonder if I want to use them at all in the barn area.

Another plan for these grids was to create a well-draining, non-muddy wash area for the horses. I suppose that would still work. I could also use them to create level, stable water trough areas. I’ll figure it out. Thank goodness I started with one smaller project instead of ordering enough to do the entire barn - stalls, shelters, and aisle - which I almost did.

Again, I do think they would be useful but probably best to use them when initially building a barn and shelters. Installing them as the base and filling from there would be fine I think and make for good level drainage underneath everything. Trying to incorporate them into space already built and being used hasn’t been as easy as I expected.

Thankfully most of my projects work well. It’s not fun backing out of one and even less fun to see that big stack of grids growing back again. I am so ready for them to be underground where they belong, or moved on to someone who needs them.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Sometimes it's better to realize when something isn't working and not go further. I'm sure you'll figure out a spot to use them. The wash stall area sounds good as does the trough platform. I wonder if there is someone (barn building carpenter, barn architect) maybe who can give you ideas on how to achieve what you want.

billie said...

Mostly I was trying to create a long-term floor that wouldn’t need maintenance. I knew when the grids arrived they weren’t exactly what I had hoped for (the material itself) but figured once they were installed it wouldn’t matter. In order to get them to a depth where I would feel perfectly comfortable, now that I’ve seen how they actually work once installed, we would have to dig down into the existing base of the barn floor, which I don’t want to do. My problem with a barn contractor person is I suspect they would want to bring in a machine and do the work and I’m afraid that would upset the apple cart. The other piece to this is that we are having such regular rain and in amounts that mean horses can’t go out for a day or several days each time, there just isn’t any way to get anyone in and out w/o making a big mess and displacing the horses. In the end I think what I’ve done before will work best and the grids just got me off the track of not fixing something that wasn’t broken! :)