Should You Be the Showrunner on Your New Horse Farm Project?

Development of your dream horse farm project from scratch is a creative endeavor and requires many skills and talents of the person in charge of the enterprise.

Every creative project needs a showrunner. Even in the ultimate arena of creativity, the media world, the familiar decision-making positions in the TV and film industry such as Directors and Producers are actually below the Showrunner in the pecking order.

The showrunner has ultimate creative authority and management over a program. In the case of developing a new horse farm from blank landscape to finished facility, this person could be you.

time planning and management

The cast of characters that need to be assembled to complete the creative concept in the case of the horse farm project will not be writers, actors, directors, craft services or trailer and transport companies, set designers, soundstage managers, or hair and make-up specialists.

The cast ensemble will likely be bankers, insurance companies, architects, engineers, personnel at various roles in the town building department, excavation and site specialists, carpenters, material manufacturers and retailers of building supplies, delivery drivers, service providers such as local power and water companies, and all manner of folks in ancillary roles from portable potty providers to fencing companies and everything in-between.

A great deal of collaboration is needed to successfully complete the building of a horse farm. Cooperation from all participating parties on both their quality and accuracy of craftsmanship as well as on the executed timeline is essential or the production will not be completed on schedule. As the showrunner, changes issued to the script once the ‘readings’ have started will cost time and money. Keeping the whole project on budget is also the role of the showrunner.

Sounds intimidating right? It certainly can be. It helps if everyone involved knows their job and if they have worked happily together before but that is often not possible.

Horse owners are generally considered a ‘picky lot’ by everyone from hay farmers to veterinarians to tack and equipment manufacturers. We want everything our way and generally communicate our needs in a direct manner and are very specific in our demands. Let’s just admit it. We are not shy to speak up.

people with horse

This can translate well to the task of being the showrunner. Horse owners are often used to supervising others whether they be two or four legged, are often very visually oriented and know how they want things to look, and commonly are up for more education and learning opportunities and have good communication skills.

If you have the time and energy to put into running the entire new horse farm building project from start to finish it can be an enjoyable experience but do expect to deal with bumps along the trail in the process. One key to success is keeping everyone and everything well-organized.

A timeline of events should be clear cut but there will be a need for some flexibility in the timeline due to delays caused by poor weather, supply of materials and delivery times and of course the human element in the equation.

woman standing in rain

For example, if wet weather delays the pouring of concrete components despite the site being ready, the construction crew may suspend your slot for being on site and you may have to wait while they head elsewhere to start and finish another project before they arrive. This knock-on effect on the delays caused to painters, roofers, and others including the site excavation team needed to return to backfill the barn aprons/finish parking areas and driveways etc., can be frustrating.

Obviously the earlier in the project you hit a speedbump, the more folks down the line will be impacted. However earnest and organized you are as showrunner, back up plans are not easy to formulate for every contingency and there may be times when work is sloppy, or plans are not followed.

Once you have orchestrated the ‘order of go’ and assembled the team that will encompass all the players on the field that will execute the project, the timeline will be sincerely affected by planning permission and permit issuance. Remember that these permissions may not just relate to the structures to be built on site, they may also apply to septic system designs, driveways, service access for utility companies etc.

people standing in mud

The Planning Board is called ‘planning’ for a reason. It may be an oxymoron to suggest you ‘plan ahead’, because all plans are obviously made ahead of time hence the use of the word but do utilize as much advance notice as possible to all parties involved in the dream horse farm project. This will help minimize disappointments down the road and mitigate the change of snafus disrupting the project’s progress.

As you complete your project plans and timeline look for smart ways to manage the risks along the way. Risk assessment is an invaluable tool in any project management. Some examples: large deliveries can be complex in their content and thus monitoring their accuracy against the order placed can take time and be subject to errors; inadvertent property damage may occur with repeated use of driveways/access points that may incur additional expenses to rectify.

Solving such issues can be simpler than you might at first suppose. Choosing a modular horse barn option does make life easier than a site-built pole or stick built structure. You will enjoy the advantage of a ‘to the penny’ quote so cost overruns won’t be a factor and the plans needed for permits can be readily provided (and amended if necessary), at a relatively low cost versus hiring architects and engineers directly as the show runner. Daily liaison required for the structural build is minimized as the modular construction company will take care of all those details with their dedicated team and there will be no delays in production of the barn caused by poor weather.

building horse barn

As a showrunner for a construction project, you may not have experience as a ‘GC’ or general contractor and know what players to call in on what schedule or have the resources to know who is a reputable painter, a good roofing company or even what products are best suited for purpose to use in the build.

When it comes to barn design features and styles, collaboration with other more experienced ‘writers’ in the horse farm arena can be helpful. You can always edit the ideas brought to the table.

The reason the title showrunner was coined in the first place was because there were so many people listed on shows and films as executive producers and producers/directors, it was hard to know who was in charge and who the studio executives should liaise with to call the shots.

As the obvious choice for ‘showrunner’ of your own horse property development project, you will ultimately be responsible to pay all the bills, answer to any shortcomings in the construction of the facility with authorities and live with any negative results of its design.

planning finances

Collaboration in any creative endeavor is a key to success. Cutting down the huge variety of characters in the cast you must work with on a day-to-day basis and utilizing experienced help to garner best construction practices, materials and craftsmanship makes a lot of sense.

Enjoy being the showrunner on set, just be smart about who you choose to work with and how you plan to stay on budget, so stress is minimized, and the expensive capital purchase is a pleasurable experience.

How do you make a smart decision in any situation? The first task is to gather information. Research and due diligence will make all the difference in the decision-making process and will help you manage expectations in a realistic manner.

Being open-minded at the outset will keep more options available for you and thus bring more choices to the table. Consultation with experts in each particular field of construction can offer innovative solutions to potential problems. A thorough review of every company, product, and prospective party involved in the horse farm project will help you determine the best selection for your individual needs.

construction team

Even with word-of-mouth referrals there is always room for errors to occur. You will need to supervise the daily work and its progress, liaise with various parties involved and monitor the accuracy and quality of work completed at each stage of the construction.

Don’t be afraid to speak up and have any necessary changes made during the process before the next ‘layer’ or stage is added. It is very difficult and sometimes not possible to go back, and remedy mistakes made in early stages.

Expect your job as the ‘showrunner’ to be full of decision-making, diligence, and diplomacy. The task can be rewarding and the final result of a stunning horse farm you can enjoy for years to come that is executed to meet your original vision will give much enjoyment. But you’ll need to keep your head up and eye on the road ahead, hands on the reins and legs tapping lightly from the saddle to enjoy the ride.

completed barn

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Finding The Farm or Kennel Sitter

When you are responsible for the care of animals in your own backyard it is inevitable that vacations and extended stays away from home become complex to plan and execute successfully.

farm animals

Whatever critters you care for, canines, chickens, horses, or other livestock, finding a reliable and trustworthy animal sitter to manage your menagerie can be a challenge. Here are some quick tips to get you started with ideas and resources to help you catch that plane, enjoy that beach or simply spend time away from the daily grind.

Do What’s Comfortable

One of the easiest ways to accomplish care for your animals while you are away, is to employ someone to ‘farm sit’ by living on your property in your absence to take care of chores.

Issues may arise if the party you choose abuses the privilege by causing damage or loss. This might be actions such as throwing parties, bringing other pets in your home that may or may not get along with your cats or dogs, invading your privacy by gaining access to or using areas of the home you have set off limits, nosing about in your personal stuff or even leaving premises unlocked and unsecured.

If you are not 100 percent happy that the person(s) you have available are trustworthy and will follow your clear directives and honor your wishes, then don’t do what doesn’t make you feel comfortable. Sadly, even relatives can break the bond of trust.

Start your hunt for help with people you know best, rather than the rest.

Research and Resources

Finding a kennel or farm sitter via social media recommendations can be a viable option for sourcing help, but be smart and don’t openly post the what, where, and when. If you limit access to your post to immediate family and friends, rather than an open call, you are less likely to find yourself the target of nefarious persons will ill intent.

There are professional companies and associations in many areas of the country that offer specific services for farm and kennel sitting (rather than those that are primarily aimed at regular residential house-sitting needs such as feeding the cat and watering the plants). Regular organizations such as the North Carolina based Pet-Sitting International, and there are more you can find on the internet based more specifically to farming and livestock through organizations like the National Young Farmers Coalition.

Resource your local Farm Bureau and Department of Agriculture Extension Office for job postings and advice.

woman with horse

There are even specialists out there that offer chicken sitting services and wellness checks.

These ‘professional’ organizations theoretically ensure the sitter has appropriate liability insurance coverage, and some of them background check while others do not.

Whoever you choose and wherever you find them, be diligent and do your own research including a full background check on the individual before you have over keys and access to your property.

All too often these checks are completed after the party has been employed. Similarly, don’t assume a neighbor, or horsey friend you don’t know well, should be exempt from you checking them out. You may be surprised at what you learn.

A clear contract of employment as an independent contractor should be executed that defines all aspects of the job responsibilities including timetable and fees. This is a business transaction and should be regarded as such.

If you discover something you don’t like or doesn’t sit well with you then pass on that animal sitter. It simply isn’t worth the stress that will surely follow later as you 2nd guess your decision to hire them.

Security Monitoring Systems

With solar powered alarm services, motion detectors, cameras, and video options readily available for purchase online, it is simple to add these important layers of security to your property. Hardwired or wireless, it is a good idea to do a mix of types of systems so if one fails or is unplugged/cut or discovered the others remain unimpaired.

Identifying the property as surveilled can help deter thieves and offers the additional benefit of keeping prospective sitters on schedule.

Please remember that unless those entering the premises are informed via signage or by written employment contract that they are being surveilled you may not be able to use such raw footage as collected as evidence in certain states in court.

Limiting Access

Talking of access, it is a good idea to limit the access to just the caregiver, as this person you have background checked and met, they have signed a contract and thus are a party in the business transaction. Even more importantly, they will have received your directives in person as to how and when you want specific animal care duties executed.

If you allow the sitter to bring their kids or pets or others along for visits, you are also exponentially increasing your liability for their welfare. Kids and dogs are notorious at finding mischief to entertain themselves especially in new places. Children clambering about on your hay wagons may seem like a giggle until someone falls off, and dogs unused to livestock can quickly give chase to a horse or run between their legs and cause upset resulting in injury to one or both parties.

 

The Daily Check-In

With the availability of smart phones, requesting your ‘sitter’ send you a video at each visit showing your animals on screen is a super way to ensure a) the caregiver is on site b) the animals are well. As the owner of the animals, you will quickly notice if a critter is looking unwell.

remote access to farm

Emergencies Happen

Realistically the chances of a mishap or accident occurring on your property with your animals is higher when you are away than when you are present. Statistically speaking, the change in routine or variance in attention the animals receive and the use of motorized equipment or other tools by those less familiar with their quirks and nuances, translates to a higher probability of damage or injury.

Ensure that emergency numbers for all services including EMS, fire and police, plus veterinary surgeons/clinics, farrier, hospitals, as well as service providers of electricity and water, are readily visible and available with relevant account numbers if needed. Evacuation plans should also be posted as well as transport options for your animals.

Many property owners forget to include their own details of itinerary leaving only emails and cell phone numbers for contact. If your farm sitter knows your flight has landed safely or can check in with you at the hotel if your cell phone is lost or not working, then you minimize the risk of not being able to be contacted in an emergency.

Leave someone listed as in charge to make any serious decisions should you not be reachable. And don’t forget to ask their permission and give them your directives beforehand.

A first aid kit for horses and humans should be easily accessible, and it’s a good idea to add a few extras before you go. For example: a paste tube of Banamine or bute etc. This ‘emergency fare’ can then be used under the direction of the vet if necessary.

Leave spare supplies of fencing repair materials and tools that might be needed for common repair issues. Keep such supplies in a secured location.

Be Crystal Clear

Often because we know what we mean we assume that others do too. As a temporary caregiver it is overwhelming to receive a barrage of special instructions on a 20-minute visit and be expected to remember all the varietal facets of the instructions.

inspecting barn

Write your directives down and make them crystal clear. Simple, clear, and concise language is a must. Don’t be tempted to add in a lot of ‘what ifs’ that confuse the issue.

Have a Plan B

Last minute issues do arise that preclude the designated sitter from attending as planned. Whether these issues are real or imagined, the reality is your vacation plans will be subject to interruption if you have not thought out a Plan B. A common reason a sitter might not be able to attend is their illness, or a transport issue.

A good back up plan can be to have two parties ready for action and have the second party ‘attend’ unofficially as a backup check on the first.

Be clear about the duties of the primary party to all, and don’t let party B interfere.

Your second party might be a family member that lives a bit far away to come every day but could stop in periodically. Keep the 2nd party schedule private from the 1st to maintain the element of surprise.

Relax

All this seems a lot. But it helps ensure that once you hit the driveway you’ll be more likely to relax knowing you haven’t left anything to chance.

family traveling

It is important to get some time away from the daily routines for mental and physical health, and even a short trip away for a few days break can refresh our spirits and provide a new outlook on things at home.