By Bev Sandlin
Homesteading is hard work, especially as you get older. Three feet of snow and 40 below temperature make it even less fun! I try to take advantage of every possible time and effort saving idea I can come up with.
Here is an idea for creating a hay bunk that you can load from the inside of the barn.
I cut out a square between the existing studs. I reinforced that with a stud up the middle—that stud also provided a solid slide back for the door. Then I cut a ¾ inch piece of plywood as a door. I created a slide with a couple of 2x4s to keep it in place. Note the rake leaning up against the wall on the right side. I use it for pushing the hay into the bunk and also for cleanup of the loose hay that inevitably accumulates.
Then I created a pulley system to easily pull it up and hold it in place. I just used a piece of rope, a pulley, an eye bolt and a nail to hold it in place. I can now open and close it with ease. In the summer I leave it open. Note the scissors hanging on a nail. I use that to cut strings on the bales.
Hard to see here, but I ran a piece of aluminum flashing that I had laying around on the bottom of the feed bunk to make the hay slide easily. A person with full strength would probably not need this, but I no longer have the strength that I did. I can fit two full hay bales in this hay bunk from this position.
This is a picture of the inside loading hay bunk from the outside under the lean-to. Note the 2x4s on top of the bunk. The horses can easily reach the hay through them but it helps to stop them from pulling the slabs of hay up and throwing it on the ground—saves hay! I also have a salt block in that bunk, besides the one on the ground and there is another on the other side in a salt feeder. I believe in feeding salt free choice. I have seen up to four deer licking on the blocks.
This feed bunk was already here when I bought this place. But carrying the hay around, lifting it into the bunk and getting it between the slats was a real chore! Most people prefer to feed outside because it keeps the manure from building up in the barn. Coming up with an inside load made a huge difference for the better!
Dan is the palomino and Colada is the grey mare. They are both broke to ride and drive. And, for what it is worth, they are both “barn broke” and do not mess inside if they are not tied in—so nice.