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Don and Connie Redden longed for a slower-paced lifestyle and breathing room for the horses they boarded at a stable near their Chicago home.
They had to bat down weeds with a skid steer just for a glimpse of the sprawling dairy barn in need of major repairs. The Reddens purchased the 86-acre property in 1995, and they embarked on a long journey to bring Richwood Farm back to its Victorian grandeur and to create a functional horse farm. Outside, they replaced barn roofs, fixed doors, re-sided a number of buildings, and rewired the entire farm.
Each of the Reddens’ three pastures has an open shed so the horses can slip out of harsh weather.
The Reddens say pasturing the horses eliminates daily barn-cleaning chores and contributes to the horses’ well-being. In addition to grass, the horses are fed oats and hay as needed, plus a commercial, vitamin-rich supplement for the Thoroughbreds and young stock.
One early lesson learned was to replace the maintenance headaches of open water tanks with automatic heated watering systems in each pasture. Richwood Farm is also home to the couple’s beloved collie, Carson, a barn cat, and flocks of poultry.
The Reddens operated Richwood Farm as a bed-and-breakfast for a few years after the renovations were complete, but the constant stream of cleaning, laundry, and cooking took its toll. Invite friends to see your photos, rate your photos, or browse other people's photos for fun and inspiration.
A site we love is inhabitat, where we discovered this beautiful, made-from-reclaimed-materials cabin, inspired by Shinto architecture. And check out Victor Summer’s Simple Shelters site for more images of projects, including sheds, barns, decks, and more. Here is one of Summer’s sheds that just might inspire a similar design for a wonderful first studio space.
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3D Home Architect DeluxeNew Version 4.0Widely considered to be the best home-hobbyist design software. Weekend road trips to the country eventually led them to a dilapidated dairy farm for sale in Wisconsin’s Lafayette County. The farmhouse, built by a state senator in 1860, was a hodgepodge of hideous carpets, painted floors, and filth.
When they bought the place, both Don and Connie worked full time as agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Chicago.
The job list seemed endless, and they’ve invested far more money to refurbish the house than they planned. They mowed weeds, fixed fences, and planted shrubs, flowers, grape vines, and scores of trees.
The Reddens now have 15 horses, including several Trakehner brood mares (a European breed known for its strength, athleticism, and endurance). A remodeled pole barn is used for foaling, vet work, and grooming, but the horses remain outdoors as much as possible. A local farmer supplies hay (the Reddens help put up the small square bales) and delivers oats to the Reddens on-farm bulk bin. Its sliding doors were replaced with fixed, latch doors to keep raccoons, foxes, and other predators from stealing hens and eggs. In 2009, Don earned a doctorate and started teaching online college courses in criminal justice.


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The Reddens hired a carpenter, but they did much of the demolition and cleanup work themselves to stretch dollars. They also have three Thoroughbreds with hopes to develop some animals for racetrack competition.
A small paddock deemed the “Jenny Craig pasture” is where overweight horses are fed a more controlled diet. Both work from home offices, which allows them to keep an eye on the farm and also to help Don’s mother, Virginia, who lives nearby.
The peaceful backdrop of the sun setting on the farm is a wonderful reminder of the joy of living a country life.



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renovating barns sheds and outbuildings



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