Gooseneck Barn Lights

You can get them at Barn Light Electric Company.

Prices have come down and lead times have shortened.

Use them to accent your barn, illuminate a hose station, or light the way to your tack room.




Fair & Balanced

Film released in 2014 by Protect the Harvest.

A representative of this group appeared before the Nevada Board of Agriculture on 12/12/17 in support of a proposal to transfer ownership of the Virginia Range horses to a private group (go to 47:40 in the audio at this post).

They’re not interested in the VR horses yet they sent a delegate to influence the Board’s decision?

A Word about Hand-Feeding Your Horse


It’s a great way to corrupt your relationship, leads to bribery.

Do you have to bring cookies to catch him in pasture?  To put on a halter?  Might as well place a sticker on your forehead that says KICK ME I’M LOWER.

Watch the video on the Oatman burros, especially the action from 2:22 to 2:38 where the burro is a bit too aggressive.  Do you identify with that woman?  Who’s moving whose feet?

You want your horse to see you as his leader not a walking talking vending machine.

You want him to come to you respectfully and pay attention, not frisk you with his nose.

Don’t set an expectation of food when it’s time to work.

If you want to give him carrots, cookies and apples, put them in his grain bucket.


Rural Water Systems – Power

Your water system should have a back-up power source, such as a generator.  If the pump in your well can’t run, you only have what’s in your pressure tank(s).  And the power will probably go out when you’re just a few psi above the low setpoint of the pressure switch.

Ideally, the generator would be large enough to serve everything at your ranch, which means 15 to 20 kW in size.  A smaller unit, say 10 kW, might require some load shedding before startup.

You’ll have to install a transfer switch to prevent back-feeding the power company.  It can be manual or automatic.


If your generator can carry the full load of your ranch, the transfer switch can be automatic, along with startup of the generator.

A manual switch lets you reduce load before starting the generator.   The sequence might look something like this (power already out):

  1. Move lever on transfer switch to neutral position
  2. Open main breaker from power company
  3. Reduce load as needed (e.g., open breaker to water heater, turn off A/C units)
  4. Start generator and let it run a minute or two to warm up
  5. Move lever on transfer switch to generator position

At this point lights should come back on, the refrigerator should run, and your pressure tanks should refill when the low setpoint is reached.

When power is restored (numbers appear on face of electric meter), the sequence might be:

  1. Move lever on transfer switch to neutral position
  2. Allow generator to run a few minutes to cool down
  3. Turn off generator
  4. Restore loads
  5. Close main breaker from power company
  6. Move lever on transfer switch to power company position

Load has now been transferred back to the power company.  If your generator has a fuel tank, top it off so you’ll be ready for the next outage.  Keep several five-gallon containers of fuel on hand and store in a safe location.

One way to keep electric demand low (and get by with a smaller generator) is to have ‘fired’ appliances, such as your water heater, furnace, cooktop and clothes dryer.  Fuel can be natural gas (if available at your location) or propane.  A stove that burns wood or pellets is another option.

A ‘poor man’s version’ would be to install the transfer switch at the panel that feeds the pump and connect a portable generator there.  Allow 2 kW for a 1 HP pump, 4 kW for 2 HP pump, etc.  It won’t power anything else but at least your horses will have water.  The UV unit in your treatment system will be inactive, and the softener will not regenerate if it has electric controls.

Always make sure the exhaust from the generator is routed to a safe location.  Never run it inside an occupied space such as a house or barn.

You can buy a trickle charger for the battery in your generator to make sure it’s ready to go when you need it.


Two basic types:

  • Bow
  • Swing

Here’s an example of each, side by side.  Bow on the left, swing on the right.


A six foot bow gate with one-hand latch gives you easy access when you’re entering the corral with halters or fly masks in the other hand.  Also gives you quick access to the poop pile when dumping the wheel barrow.  Place the gate so the latch is on the outside of the corral.

The latch has a slider and keeper.  To open the gate, flip the keeper up (on the right in the following photo) and pull the slider to the open position.  The gate will swing freely in either direction.


If you are new to horses or are in the process of gentling some mustangs, always open the gate inward.  Pull the slider open, push the gate in a few inches, then move the slider back to the closed position.  If a horse approaches the gate as you enter and pushes, it will swing back and hit the bow, stopping it from flying open, knocking you to the ground, and setting your horses free.  (This is one way your horse tells you he thinks you’re lower, that he doesn’t have to listen to you.  It’s not a problem of smacking him and showing him who’s boss, it’s a problem of relationship.  Yes, you may have to turn up the pressure for a while until he comes to you respectfully, the same way he would to a higher horse in his band.)

Unlike bow gates, swing gates are usually not furnished in a frame.  You’ll have to cement 6 x 6 posts to hang them.  Once they’re in place, you can bring in fill material with your tractor to create a dry space in the corral.  Twelve feet wide should work.  Orient the hinge post so the dead weight of the gate will not bend it (lines of grain parallel to gate in closed position).


You’ll also have to supply a latch for the gate.  It can be mounted on the 6 x 6 post opposite the hinges.  In the following example, you can reach through the gate to lift the inside keeper and push the gate open.  If a horse pushes back or the wind blows it toward you, the outside keeper will stop it from flying open.  It’s a great safety feature.


The latch will also allow the gate to open outward (not recommended unless you have halters on your horses and are taking them out to pasture or going on a ride).  Some gates are furnished with chains for added security.

Avoid gates with chains only, no latches.  They require two hands to secure properly.

Here’s another view of the two gates.  Note the absence of 90 degree interior corners.


If you will be leaving your ranch for a few hours or retiring for the evening, check your gates to make sure they’re properly latched.  And don’t think your horse won’t notice if they aren’t.  If he doesn’t hear the ‘clink’ of the keeper dropping into position when the gate closes, he’ll probably walk over to investigate.  If it’s the outside keeper, pasture is just one push away!

Opening and closing gates is not complicated.  But on a ranch you’re doing that many times a day so it’s easy to mess up, especially when you’ve got a hundred other things on your mind.