The Horizon Structures Free Run-In Shed Finds Its Home in Union, Missouri

As temperatures of 105°F seared the landscape at Union, Missouri, Bill Wisdom and his family were pleased to see the small but mighty ‘mule’ from Horizon Structures trundle expertly up their driveway to deliver their free run-in shed.

“It was in place within 15 minutes of being offloaded from the truck. We had made a small driveway to the prepared level site pad and the driver set it efficiently just where we wanted it. An easy experience and no hitches despite us living off the main road,” explained Bill Wisdom, the proud new owner of the 10’x 20’ board and batten structure.

Bill and his wife Sara, and two daughters, 15-year-old Grace and 17-year-old Olivia, were the winners of the Horizon Structures Barn Giveaway Contest for 2022 and were delighted with the quality and craftsmanship of their new Amish-built shed in Missouri.

“We’ve placed it in a 4-acre field that we have yet to fence. The field is partly trees and partly open and will be the home of my daughter Grace’s first horse. We have the posts in the ground, but the fencing is yet to be run, and meantime we have to buy the horse. Grace has been working at a local ranch as a stable hand and taking riding lessons to earn the money to buy her first horse. Her mother has a lot of experience with horses, so she will be helping in the selection process.”

Bill explained that his youngest daughter is planning to take High School classes in Equine Studies with the prospect of attending college to garner a degree in the subject afterward.

When asked if he had any experience or knowledge of Horizon Structures as the leading producer of modular horse barns in the country, Bill explained that he had been looking online for a shelter and came across Horizon during his search on You Tube.

“I was researching backyard barn options and came across local prefabricated barn builders and others. I saw the Horizon Structures products and saw the Blast into Spring 2022 Contest and thought why not enter. And now here we are! I don’t know how long we will have just one horse to use the shelter. My wife has always wanted to start a 501(c) rescue. She would love to offer shelter for all sorts of animals in the future.”

The menagerie of animals on the 18-acre property located on the outskirts of Union, Missouri, already includes 5 goats, 2 miniature donkeys and chickens.

“One of the goats and one of the donkeys is pregnant. So at least 2 more animals are on the way. And I plan to buy two peacocks. We also have two Great Pyrenees dogs that watch over them all.”

The Wisdoms have not always lived in Union. The property was purchased just over a year ago after the family sold their 2004 home in Ditmar that they had built.

“Our previous home was a ranch house and was set on two acres, and we always knew we wanted more space. When the market moved up and it was the right time to sell, we were able to sell our home there and found this property that had been sitting on the market a while, so we bought at a good price, and it was good timing.”

Working well with numbers comes easily to the couple, as Sara works for the Federal Reserve Bank and spends 95% of her time working from home remotely while Bill commutes 4 days a week to a stock brokerage house in St. Louis where he is the Director of Regulatory Compliance in Securities for the company.

Bill explained he enjoyed his downtime from his job working on their smallholding, plowing the driveway of snow in winter with his Kubota and making improvements to the property year-round.

“The temperatures in winter here regularly hit below zero, sometimes to -15°F, and snow is hit and miss but 8 to 10 inches of snowfall at a time is not unusual. The run-in shed will be the perfect shelter for the horse. We’ve placed the shed not too far from the house, so plans are to run water to the shed. We currently have an older stable that will house 3 horses, and a 30’ x 60’ pole barn that has a workshop and bathroom that is partitioned with an area for the goats and donkeys to take shelter. If we have needs in the future for more structures, I will definitely call Horizon. The team there has been a pleasure to deal with and we love their product!”

Commercial Builds of Pavilions, Pergolas and Gazebos

From firehouses to State Parks, corporate lunch spaces to community gardens, outdoor living structures that offer some form of protection from adverse wet weather, shelter from the hot sun and possibly storage for supplies, is always a welcome addition.

Deciding between the flexible pavilion that accommodates multi-size gatherings; the elegance of a commercial pergola to define an area of natural beauty and perhaps provide a park bench inside on which passers-by can sit and reflect, or showcasing events on an open commercial gazebo bandstand can improve the enjoyment of a community event and offer sincere benefits to the participants.

One thing is certain. A fixed outdoor living structure offers a permanent advantage over tents with their peg and line tripping issues, concrete lot damage with peg installation, and their ‘Wizard of Oz’ moments. All of which add up to a high-risk assessment with tent use for lawsuits being issued against the town or organization, from people becoming accidentally hurt while attending an event.

Here are a few tips to consider as you embark on embracing the outdoor living structure lifestyle for your project:

Costing and Capabilities

It is inevitable that the question of funding the outdoor living structure will come into play. The least expensive option is not always the best choice, so carefully consider the actual planned use of the space and identify future possible needs when it comes to sizing and siting.

For example, a pergola may be less expensive than a pavilion, but its use will be limited during poor weather. A summer shower can ruin an event, and if the structure is being used for winter holiday events (they make a beautiful gathering spot at vineyards and orchards for Fall harvest events and ski resort mixers on the slopes), it needs to have a roof.

Kitchen appliances and food/buffet dining set ups with hot plates, musicians’ equipment such as amplifiers and instruments, may require electrical service. Keeping these items safe and dry is essential. Thus, in these cases, a pavilion is a better choice than a commercial pergola.

On the other hand, a large gazebo can provide a ‘step up’ from the topography of a flat lawn or garden area, and highlight the event being held. Whether music is played, and singers perform, or speeches are being given, the sound will carry further afield and the audience will all have the opportunity to witness the participants in action.

The site that is chosen for placement of the structure should also be carefully considered.

A gravel path or garden surround can set off the structure adding aesthetic appeal and make access easy and mud free. But if the structure is placed near a pond or water source, there is a risk of flooding and wet ground causing even the most compacted gravel or stone base to move or subside.

Consider if vehicular access will be needed for placement of heavy items such as cookers or multiple items such as chairs and tables will need to be set up in the area and ensure that the structure is not placed in an area where it can be damaged by falling boughs from trees or excessive high winds.

Security Concerns and Storage Options

Lighting, fencing and security monitoring via a WIFI device or CC set up may be needed to ensure the structure remains unhindered during periods of inactivity. This is especially important if there are plans to house any supplies within the structure.

Securing a pavilion with overhead doors or curtains is a good way to protect the interior space from snow and bad weather, debris such as dead leaves and offers the ability to lock up the space to safely contain supplies such as tables and chairs and minimize the risk of vandalism or theft.

Corner members of structures can be protected from accidental damage from errant parking incidents with bollards or containers of flowers or shrubs.

 Pave It

Necessarily outdoor living structures used in a community setting will enjoy a lot of foot traffic during their use. Get ahead of the worn grass paths, muddy slip slide and possibility of lawsuits over people tripping or falling over with the installation of pavers or concrete.

Rubber pavers offer a good solution to sound mitigation, and stone or concrete (the latter can be laid with a special machine to both color the concrete and given an effect of paving if preferred to actual stone laying), are all good options.

Cover an apron area around the structure in addition to the undercover space for pergolas and pavilions and for gazebos similarly offer multiple paths and access from different directions to maximize freedom of movement around the structure during crowded events. This will help improve safety for the audience and for the performers and improve event management as it allows the ‘players’ orchestrating the provisions and attendees to come and go freely.

Pathways should be wide enough to allow passing of patrons and not be a single file option. Visitors may be pushing strollers or using wheelchairs, so consideration for disabilities and family use should be incorporated in the design. There is a litany of regulations in this regard, both Federal and State, so do your due diligence if the structure is in the public domain or to be utilized for public access.

Whatever ground surface cover you install make sure it will handle the application of salt or de-icing products if needed during winter and stay weed and maintenance free during summer. Bear in mind gravel paths do not handle snow blowing equipment or plowing well and paved surfaces cannot handle heavy equipment without cracking unless installed to premium cost specifications.

Making the right decision on materials and their application and specifications will help keep your labor costs down for many years, although an occasional reseal may be needed over time.

Roof Designs

The structure’s roof design and material will affect not just its ability to withstand high winds and snow loads, but also how rain, ice and snow are shed off the roof.

Guttering may be needed for a pavilion structure to mitigate dripping rain from the roofline, and the use of shingle versus metal roof products should be considered if icing and snow load is likely to be a problem.

Snow guards or ice guards should not be necessary as the interior/exterior temperature of the space covered by the outdoor living structure is similar but depending on use and location roof materials and design should be evaluated.

Light It Up

One of the great advantages of an outdoor living structure is it lends itself to installation of lights to add ambience and a practical aspect to use of the space from dusk into night.

The structure’s frame members can be hung with lights to achieve a romantic or party atmosphere and corner posts make perfect pillars for heavier lighting fixtures.

By making temporary lighting easy to accomplish with provision of fixed hooks, the hanging lights can be quickly removed and safely stored after events and plug-in speakers and lights can similarly be handled, while security cameras and lighting can remain year-round. The latter should be fastened at a height that makes them difficult to reach from the back of a pickup bed or without the use of a ladder.

Funding Ideas

Grants both private and public, funding from corporate entities or private individuals are all great means to fund the outdoor structure project. Larger manufacturers and providers of outdoor living structures often offer financing options, so don’t be shy to ask for help.

GSA compliant companies may be able to offer special discounts and terms.

Social media funding rounds on community platforms are also a great resource to explore if the community kitty needs replenishment to afford the purchase.

Cover an apron area around the structure in addition to the undercover space for pergolas and pavilions and for commercial gazebos similarly offer multiple paths and access from different directions to maximize freedom of movement around the structure during crowded events.

Chicken Keeping Options – From Free Range to Coops and Everything In Between

When you choose to keep your chickens safe and secure from predators by providing them with their own hen house or chicken coop, the confinement can alter everything from the nutritional benefit of their eggs to their ability to ward off mites by dusting themselves off in dirt.

The provision of a covered chicken run adjacent to the coop resolves some of the common issues with keeping chickens ‘cooped up’ but not all.

Advantages of the free-range method of chicken keeping are many. Perhaps the most significant is the amount of money it can save on purchase of commercial chicken feed. Of course, you will need to ‘hunt and peck’ to find their eggs around the garden and may miss a few from time to time or scavenge an old egg without realization that it is not fit to eat. But the added benefits of their prowess at finding their own dining delights cannot be overlooked.

The middle ground between free range and cooping chicken keeping is the use of a chicken tractor and/or fencing an area for their safety.

The chicken tractor has become increasingly popular as a viable option for homesteading on a small or large property.

The efficiency of chickens to ‘grub around’ and mitigate pesky insects and bugs notwithstanding, the undeniable fact is that a free-range chicken is at risk for becoming dinner or even worse, entertainment, for fauna further up the food chain.

There are advocates on both side of the chicken wire fence on this topic, and if you are confused as to what method is the best choice it is smart to look at your own individual nature rather than that of the birds.

While certain breeds of chickens may lend themselves better to ownership by the neophyte backyard chicken-keeper than others due to their friendliness and overall egg production quality and quantity, it is you, the owner, who will need to examine yourself as to which chicken-keeping preference you should favor.

Questions to ask yourself may include:

  • Do I have kids or other family members that will be upset by the loss of a bird or part of the flock over time?
  • How much time do I have to search for eggs?
  • Does my garden mean the world to me with flower beds and shrubs or will digging, foraging and dirt patches on the lawn cause no concern?
  • Do I have room to move the chicken tractor about and the inclination and equipment to do it?
  • How cleanable is a coop and what should I do to make sure if I choose a coop for housing the hens that it requires minimal labor?
  • Do I have dogs or other pets that will trouble the chickens?
  • Do I care what my chickens eat outside of commercial feed?
  • How much do bugs in the backyard bother me?
  • Will my kids be collecting eggs? An easy exterior collect coop can be a boon for busy families where you don’t want to walk inside the messy coop in your work shoes.
  • What wildlife is in my environment, and will predation be a major headache?
  • Can I lessen coop workload by using smart technology like coop doors on automatic timers? Can I afford these upgrades?
  • Does your garden offer natural shade options for hot weather and natural shelter in adverse or inclement weather?

Well, you get the idea. There are options but only you can choose the ones that will work best for your individual lifestyle.

Chores can quickly become onerous after the initial excitement of growing chicks up into adults that lay eggs for use in the home kitchen passes, despite the benefits of the ample egg supply of known provenance.

There is a litany of resources on the pros and cons of different chicken keeping methods so no need to repeat them here. But the choice of which to pick will become clear once you examine the realities of the options. Get informed before you start! It’s a lot easier than figuring it out as you go along.

Barn Design Tips to Help Manage Horses on Stall Rest

Despite our best efforts horses often injure themselves or suffer illnesses that require a period of confinement in a stall. For the equine caregiver the task of managing a horse or pony over several days, weeks or even months to optimize their chances of making a full recovery by restricting exercise can be onerous task fraught with worry.

Thoughtful barn design features can help assuage the negatives associated with horse stall rest. Here are a few tips on equine stall layout and some helpful advice on how to navigate the confinement period and keep your horse or pony as happy and healthy as possible.

Divide and Conquer

There are many good reasons to have at least one dividing stall wall in the barn adaptable for combining two stalls into one should needs require. Foaling out a mare; housing a mare and foal; accommodation for a large breed of horse such as a draft horse; housing two or more animals such as donkeys together. In addition, a double stall can provide flexibility in space for the horse that is in rehab and requires more than the usual 10’ x 12’ or 12’ x 12’ stable but is not yet healed enough for turnout.

To help prevent boredom for the horse this stall should be carefully located. Placement of this stall could be close to an area of high activity such as next to a wash stall or tack-up area, a view to an indoor or outside arena where horses are exercised, or at the end of a barn where the open entry way offers some form of entertainment with a view of the house, backyard pool, driveway, or road.

The Lanai Option

Provision of a Dutch door with access to a covered area with limited space outside the barn is a great way to limit the horse’s access to turnout while still providing freedom of movement and a change of view.

Often colloquially referred to as a lanai due to its similarity in features to the popular patio/veranda/porch seen in hot regions such as Florida and Hawaii, it usually features a roof for shelter from the sun and rain and may be screened in some way from pesky bugs if situated in an area where excessive heat and flying insects are a problem.

If the barn design includes and overhang, a simple option is to extend the overhang from 4’ or 6’ to 12’ adjacent to one or two stalls. This will allow enough area to be converted with gates or temporary fencing to make an outside/inside lanai area if a Dutch door egress is provided.

This area could include rubber mats placed over concrete or it could be left as a stonedust surface to allow the later addition of rubber mats or a similar comfort flooring if needed.

Hang Tight

It is possible that part of the horses’ rehabilitation and recovery will require suspending an IV fluid hanger to administrate medicines and supporting fluids. This is a system of pulleys, cleats and ropes that can be mounted as a hardware kit to a wood post on a barn.

All barns should be built with substantial framing members and wood pillars are ideal for mounting these IV fluid kits. Placement in a stall of an additional wood pillar in the center of a front or back wall can be useful for the purpose and if a single stall is converted to a double stall the center pillar may suffice for use. When installed IV fluid kits should be checked to ensure there is no likelihood of a tube, rope or pulley becoming caught up on a pillar or other obstacle.

It is also possible that a sling to keep the horse from putting too much weight on a joint, soft tissue area or hoof will be needed. Substantial additional weight-bearing lumber may need to be installed to accommodate the sling depending upon its design.

While there is no necessity to build a full recovery stall with padded walls and a full veterinary clinic set up, the inclusion of a few simple factors in horse barn design can make the stalls flexible to accommodate temporary medical needs.

Aside from veterinary aids the confined horse will also appreciate toys and other products to minimize boredom. Hanging toys, special feed dispensers and other distractions can go a long way to keeping your stalled equine content.

Hand Walking Areas

The requirement for regular hand walking and stretching exercises should be expected to be part of the rehabilitation protocol after any period of confinement for the horse.

A center aisle barn with a wide aisleway offers the perfect all-weather space to take those first baby steps toward recovery. The exterior doors can be shut for security or left open to facilitate extra room to circle the horse and turn around.

If rubber pavers or rubber mats are utilized to cushion the center aisle and protect the horse from slipping and sliding on a smooth concrete surface, or is s stonedust base is installed and compacted, the center aisle can provide a safe area for hand walking the horse during rehabilitation. Remember to avoid tight turns if the horse has suffered a leg, shoulder, or hip injury.

Power Up

Routine veterinary care and the elevated level of care needed in the case of a stalled horse during recovery may be aided by having additional power sources for equipment, and video monitoring with Wi-Fi access in the barn.

Electrical outlets conveniently located to the stall will minimize the use of electrical extensions and the risk associated with their use, as well as negate the need for the horse to be moved more than necessary for evaluation during recovery.

Monitoring systems ease the mind of the caregiver and can give 24/7 views of the activity of the horse so any necessary adjustments to set up or practices can be made and provide a valuable insight into the horse’s mental condition.

Chew On This

Installation of metal edges for protection from chewing of wood by the horse on all exposed right-angled surfaces and tops of Dutch doors is essential to protect the building from the mischief horses can dish out when stabled.

During periods of extended confinement, the equine occupant is highly likely to ‘rail’ on walls with his teeth, kick out or rear in frustration and chew on the ledges of windows and edges of posts.

Smart barn design with properly constructed kick walls, grilled front walls and protected surfaces can greatly lessen the chances of damage to either the horse or the structure.

Seal The Deal

Before you add a horse to the stable in a new barn always protect interior wood surfaces from both chewing and staining by the application of a sealant. Not only will this action keep the walls protected from unsightly stains and marks, but this will also make cleaning the stall easier to accomplish.

Keeping a stalled horse’s environment clean and healthy requires a lot of effort and any labor-saving practice is a good idea to install at the outset.

Fresh Air Everywhere

Fresh air is essential for good health of the horse and should be especially considered in the design of a horse barn. Passive ventilation such as wire covered soffits (this protects from birds setting up house in the barn), gable vents, ridge vents, cupolas, windows, and Dutch doors can all aid in airflow within the structure.

In hot climates supplementing the movement of air by mechanical means such as the installation of commercial grade fans either on the ceiling, floors, or walls, (commercial grade offer sealed motors that are protected from dust and debris for fire safety), may be required for additional help in moving air through the barn and keeping the horses comfortable.

A sick horse on stall rest will need even more help managing his body temperature than a healthy individual, and provision of both safe heating and cooling options should be incorporated into the barn plans if possible.


Equine stall layout and design expertise can greatly aid in ensuring that whatever housing you choose, it has the adaptability to address future needs for medical care.

Choose a construction company that offers a variety of barn styles and will work with you on the budget as well as the aesthetics and the use of modern labor-saving materials that can help defray the need for future repairs and repainting such as siding and roofing options. Don’t be shy to ask for advice from the staff at the company on how to optimize your new barn design to accommodate horses that become ill or require special needs. Specialist horse barn companies are usually horse folks themselves, and have a wealth of experience in the design of horse housing that they are happy to share to help you make the best decision for your individual needs.

There are many awesome resources that address daily practices for caring for a horse on stall confinement. A suggested place to start is M Libraries, that offers supplemental notes on large animal surgery.