Design Competition

Northwest Horse Source & Whatcom Conservation District Design Competition

What would you do with $3000 for on-farm improvements?

FCWThe Northwest Horse Source & the Whatcom Conservation District invite all Whatcom County land managers to enter our competition for a $3000 grant for improvements on your farm. Water quality in Whatcom County is an issue and Northwest Horse Source and Whatcom Conservation District are working together to find solutions. Be a part of that solution. Tell us how you would use these funds to make improvements at your homestead or farm site to improve animal health, increase chore and site efficiency, and improve water quality. Winners are rewarded with the grant and a Sound Horsekeeping sign to demonstrate their stewardship efforts.

WCDThe winning applicant will:

  • Be willing to share before and after results with Northwest Horse Source readership,
  • NW Hourse SourceBe located in one of the Whatcom County high priority watersheds,
  • Have high potential for water quality improvement,
  • Show compelling need,
  • Have ability to complete the proposed project by September 1, 2018,
  • Be the landowner, or a current land manager who will be able to secure the approval of the land manager for the life of the project.
  • Be willing to work with the Whatcom Conservation District to develop a voluntary, confidential farm plan for your site.

Proposals are due end of business Friday March 30, 2018. To enter, complete our survey online. Contact Katie Pencke to apply over the phone or with questions. 360-526-2381 x 105.  


Sound Horsekeeping


See below for more information on common costs for gravel, hog fuel, fencing, excavation and gutters to help with budget submission.

For each of the practices below your application will indicate one of the following: I already do this, I could do this with help, or this practice is not appropriate for my property or management.

Reduce mud



Cost basis for budget estimates

High Priority Practices

Install gutters and downspouts. (Downspouts should direct roof runoff away from confinement areas.)

$5 per linear foot for gutters and downspouts


Create a confinement area (winter paddock).

$4 per linear foot for fencing


Add footing (gravel, hog fuel, etc.) in paddocks.

$2 per square foot for up to 500 square feet per animal unit


Fence off any creeks, wetlands, or water bodies.

$4 per linear foot for fencing


Reroute water from roofs driveways, parking areas and hillsides away from confinement areas. (Install French drains, grassy swales, dry wells, water diversion bars, or culverts.)

$4.50 per linear foot for underground outlets


Create a mud-free exercise area (e.g., track paddock, trail course, dry-lot turn out, outdoor arena or round pen).



Install a rain garden.



Create vegetative buffer strips on the downslope side of confinement areas, compost bins or other heavy use areas.

$250 per acre


Manage Manure



Cost basis for budget estimates

High Priority Practices

Cover manure pile with a tarp or roof.

Whatcom Conservation District gives away free 15’ x 20’ tarps


Pick up manure in stalls and confinement areas daily or at least every 3 days.



Implement a manure disposal plan (advertise for pickup, take somewhere for disposal or have it picked up).



Build a manure composting bin(s)/storage area.

$1400 per animal unit or $200 per cubic yard of storage


Reduce bedding use by installing rubber stall mats, change to pelleted bedding or just reduce the amount used.



Use a slow feeder to reduce the amount of manure produced (this also reduces boredom in paddocks and can help horses keep a healthy weight.)



Improve Pastures



Cost basis for budget estimates

High Priority Practices

Keep horses off pastures during winter months.



Remove horses from pastures when grass has been grazed down to three inches. Allow grass to re-grow to six to eight inches before grazing again. 

$15 per linear foot for access lane to facilitate livestock movement between pastures while preventing runoff of nutrients and pathogens to waterways


Lime pastures.



Spread manure or compost on pastures during the growing season (April through October) no more than ½” layer at a time and 3-4” per season.



Harrow and mow pastures.



Take a soil test.



Check pastures for weeds and either hand pull, use a weed burner or apply the recommended herbicide in amounts at the recommended time of the year and plant’s lifecycle.



Protect wells & septic systems



High Priority Practices

Keep horses off septic system drain field.


Pump and inspect septic system regularly.  


Keep horses, livestock and manure storage areas at least 100 feet from a wellhead. 


Get a well test.


Enhance Wildlife Habitat




Install bird and/or bat boxes.


Plant a hedgerow of native plants along driveway, paddocks, pastures or other areas.


Use mosquito dunks or gold fish in troughs for mosquito control.


Use fly predators for fly control.


Leave snags. A snag is a dead or dying tree left in place to provide habitat for wildlife.


Create brush piles, rock piles for small wildlife.


What are we talking about? Here is a great example:

Cooperator: Terri Plake

Farm Location: Ferndale. 11 years at current farm and has lived in Whatcom County for 35 years.

Pasture and Hay:  1.8 acres

Hay only:  2.6 acres

Farm’s animal census:  2 horses, 2 goats, 20 laying hens

Grazing season: July—October/November. Sacrifice field used year-round except during rain events and few days after rain.

Hay produced:

Purchased hay: 25 small bales/year (about 60 lbs each)



Thank you for your work and assisting to make this happen. I am so grateful for this program! “

- Terri Plake, Geologist, Native Environmental Science Program, Northwest Indian College.


Project Photo


This page was last modified on 02/01/18 - 09:17