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10 Ways to Prep the Farm for Winter

With the cold and snow on its way in the Northeast, there are a few things that my husband and I do every November to make sure that our farm is ready for anything winter might throw at us. No matter how harsh or mild of a winter we get, we know we’re prepared by doing these things:

1. Line driveways and parking lots with snow plow stakes. We need to make sure we get to this before the ground freezes. These bright orange stakes (with reflection stripes) are essential to help us not tear up the grass as we push snow out of the driveways and parking areas.

snow-plow-stakes

2. Put hoses away until spring. We have frost free hydrants, but those only work if there isn’t a frozen hose attached. For the winter our boarders must carry buckets to bring water to their horses. To make this as convenient as possible, we have front free hydrants by paddocks and near all barns.

3. Take all jumps out of the outdoor. To help minimize damage to jumps, and to allow boarders to ride in fresh snow, we take all the jumps out of the outdoors. It makes the ring look huge and it’s fun to do flatwork in before the ground freezes.

ring-looks-big-with-no-jumps

4. Put out “food” coolers for horses in paddocks. This is how we are able to have water outside year round. Every horse at the farm has individual turnout. At night we cover the coolers, and on even the coldest of mornings – the ice is manageable with a rubber mallet and metal strainer. The coolers role is to provide insulation from the freezing temperatures. It is imperative to use a bungee cord to hold the covers open, or to cut the connection between the cooler and the lid so the horse cannot accidentally close the cooler lid and not have any access to water.

food-cooler-for-water

5. Put heated water buckets into stalls. There are a few in/out stalls at our farm and although they may not be plugged in all the time – it’s great to know the horses can access unfrozen water at any time.

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6. Put winter shoes on horses. Snow pads and borium! I make sure to tell my boarders to have the farriers put four studs on each shoe. This makes it so the horse doesn’t slip at all as they are walking on ice. (We have slight hill down from the barn to paddocks that can get quite slick.)

7. Put MAG into the indoor arena to help with dust and make sure the arena footing doesn’t freeze. It’s a big production because we have to shut down the indoor – remove everything from inside – and spend a few hours using the tractor to spread it. The arena looks like it has snowed inside. The horses can ride on it the very next day, and very soon it is mixed in and you can’t even tell.

magging-the-indoor

8. Put the plow on the truck to make sure it is working okay – we certainly don’t want to be caught without the plow ready at the last minute!

view-from-inside-tractor-after-snow-storm

9. Test the generator and make sure there is fresh gas on hand for it to run. An essential for when the power goes out!

10. Drain the outdoor arena sprinkler lines since those won’t be needed until next year.

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