Liberty House: The Future Donkey-Barn

In yet another example of why this property called to me the minute I saw it:


Yes, it came with its very own donkey barn. Because my life wouldn’t be complete without being able to kiss a fuzzy donkey face whenever I feel like it.


The “little barn” (not to be confused with the middle barn, or the bigass barn… yes, it’s like a country girl’s version of Goldilocks around here) is actually in pretty decent shape, although the roof on this thing was something else the appraiser felt compelled to make note of in her report, which means I had to escrow money to fix it. And okay, my donkeys deserve the best, but for real? You’d think I would be able to prioritize this behind the whole toilet-on-carpeting thing, but no.

However, this is going to give me a great opportunity to practice my roofing skills, which are pretty much nonexistent at this time. I haven’t decided if I’m going to spring for metal or use some squares of leftover shingles from the garage that I found in the rubble pile.

I also need to build a new “people door” for the left side and get the donkey door working again. (By which I mean “hit it hard with a hammer” of course.)


And then there’s the inside…


The good news is that that water spigot works and I have a ton of cultured stone to use for other projects down the line. The bad news is I have to move it out of here and also probably tear up at least half the concrete floor. (Concrete is bad for donkey hoofs.)

I’m planning to make just one side the “stall” and the other side storage.


Oh look, I just spotted another wheelbarrow on this property. That’s four that I’ve acquired so far.

Also, you can see the joist hangers are still in place from the old hay loft, and I may put that back in as well for both insulation and storage purposes. Then I need to get the fence in (luckily I’ve already done that once before, so I have no illusions about what a pain in the ass installing 700 wire clips is going to be.)


I’m hoping most of these will be “May” projects, to be followed up with a couple more outdoor projects involving the middle barn and my patio in June. Then it will be back inside for work to begin on the master bath in July.

It’s no small amount of work, but I feel lucky I’ve got a great foundation to get me started, and with any luck there will be donkeys on the Liberty property in a couple of months.

20 Responses

  1. See.. the appraiser didn’t include all those free wheelbarrows. That just doesn’t seem fair now does it! 😉

  2. It’s really quite awesome – those barns are worth their weight in gold. Our property comes with a ramshackle freakish frankenstein carport – which really means we just have a place to propagate varmints to feed the rattlesnakes and pack of coyotes living in our backyard. Awesome. And the cost of putting in a steel shed/building is just prohibitive right now. So, yes, I have barn-envy.

  3. Since I haven’t made it through the whole Memorial House saga yet – Where are the donkeys?? The donkeys are what made me find you and I’ve really been wondering where they are.

    Mine are about to get their springtime grass muzzles so they don’t eat themselves to death (literally). They do love the spring grass and I learned the hard way its not good for them! Mostly it just makes them louder than usual. But it wouldn’t be the same without them screaming everytime I pull in the driveway or waking me up every morning.

    1. The original donkeys (PJ & Lucy) live at the Memorial House still. There was some debate about where they would end up eventually, but it may turn out that I’m getting new mini’s this summer!

      I don’t know that we ever had a problem with them overfeeding on springtime grass, but we moved them between the pasture that was seeded with timothy and the weed field. They definitely don’t get treats! It wasn’t until the winter that they finally learned how to bray properly… but as far as I know they’re still not very loud.

      1. Okay that makes some sense now because I did read the whole section about donkeys and never saw where you said you had moved THEM.

        Oh once they find their voice they will let you know when they want or need something! And they make good “watch-donkeys” if anyone pulls in. Scares the shit outta people sometimes. In the summertime when I sleep with my windows open they start hollaring as soon as they hear the first stirring in the morning (even though they are a full pasture away – they have huge ears for a reason). I consider it karma for my neighbors accross the street who had two dogs THAT NEVER STOPPED BARKING when I first moved in.

        Molly, my first donkey, foundered a few years ago from eating too much spring grass. She recovered fine but they are very suseptible once it happens. So now, for about two months, they wear a muzzle every other day (they can still eat a little and drink).

  4. OK…This barn will put your mantra of ‘Work your ass off and never give up’ to the max test. It might take several Mays to get this where you want it, unless you have a burly crew standing by (not a bad idea) ;0) Bet the donkeys will love their new home when they get there.
    Recently on MSNBC there were before and after shots of Japan and you could slide the bar back and forth to see the difference. That picture show would be one I would pay to see. Ever thought of putting this experience into a book?

    1. You’re right, it could be several May’s… but I’m not opposed to a crew of volunteers if necessary. 😉 Really the fence and interior barn work should be fairly easy, but that roof might get me!

      I love writing for the blog, but I’m not sure how my story would pan out in book-format. It’s an interesting idea though!

      1. I would love to come help if I was anywhere near! I just read Norm Abram’s book on building his house. You could do it!

  5. B and I are thinking of renting a tractor to clean up the vast quantities of concrete chunks from his “nemesis wall” by the boat house. Want to go in on a week’s rental? Could you get a tractor in there? xo, K

  6. For a barn I would just do asphalt. Metal roofs are good for a long term structure but I doubt you won’t want to change/update/replace it over the next 50 years. It might get pretty noisy in there too when it rains or hails. Asphalt is easy to DIY and change plus it is cheaper.

  7. Let me get this straight — you have a full-time job… and you’re going to tackle all that in a month or two? Wow. That is some impressive time-management! And a gorgeous barn too.

    1. It’s just some really full weekends (and lots of friends who offer to help, and may regret that after I have them hauling bricks around for a day… lol). We’ll see how far I get with it!

  8. I agree that shingles is the way to go and it would match the house. On a smaller structure with no extra peaks or valleys roofing is pretty easy and goes pretty fast if you have a roofing nailer. How many layers are on there now? Can you go over the old roof? Other than having to tear off the old roof if necessary, the hardest part is carrying the bundles of shingles up there. Maybe try to get some help for that part. Then you are good to go. You and your mom could probably get it done in a long weekend if you kick ass.

    And I would strongly advise replacing the sliding donkey door. My sliding door just about killed me. I finally just screwed it in place open and put in a commerical-grade garage door with opener and I thank myself for that everyday when I go out to feed MY donkeys!

  9. The Donkey House will be great! Love that barn…so would like one (for storage). I have a question about the donkeys. Besides eating grass and being big pets, are there other things they provide? I know nothing about donkeys…a***s is another story. 🙂

    1. I have to give my answer…..they are such a joy. They don’t bark or screech. They are not skiddish or snobby. They don’t follow you into the bathroom or wake you up in the morning. They love to play “follow the leader” and they are curious. If you sit near them, they will come up to you and rest their head on your shoulder. Does it make sense now?

      1. Thanks, Kit’s Mom, I already understood the “pet”/companion part. I just wondered if their hair was used for anything as sheep’s is and stuff along those lines. Based on your comment, my apologies if you think I was being rude.

  10. For starters, let me say that I find your blog an inspiration and I look forward to the journey you are about to undertake with the Liberty House.

    Instead of chopping up all the concrete floor in the donkey stabling part of the barn, why not laydown rubber mats? These are used in horse barns the world over. They provide more cushion on the legs/feet of horses. You still have to put bedding on top of them to absorb the urine & manure that is expelled. It will be cheaper than tearing up the floor and then laying down another surface. For example, check out these ones at Tractor Supply:

    (P.S I’m commenting from Canada, I have no idea what your local sourcing for the mats might be.)

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