We are now officially in winter! As a follow up to 10 Ways to Prep for Winter (check it out here) , here are a few tips, tricks, and reiterations for things we do to make chore life on the farm easier now that winter’s actually here:
1. Put chains on the tractor tires
One of the best investments we ever made was purchasing chains to put on our tractor tires. It feels like a tank when you are driving it, but it has so much grip on the snow and ice. It has even helped to pull me and the plow truck out of a few stuck situations. (Whoops!)
2. Put the plow on the truck and leave it there!
Speaking of plowing – we now have the plow on the truck for the whole winter. The orange snow stakes certainly help guide us up and down the driveways!
3. Have plenty of outerwear ready to rotate through
I make sure that I have a few changes of outerwear clothes to rotate through. Snow gets things wet, and it is never fun to have to put damp hats, scarfs, gloves, pants on when you have to go back outside into the elements.
4. Keep water coolers in the paddocks and pastures
Worth reiterating – water coolers are perfect for using as water buckets in paddocks and pastures! They save so much time when it comes to making sure the horses have access to water when the temperatures fall. The keys to them working their best are: adding 40+ degree water to them often, making sure they get sealed shut for the overnight hours, and using a rubber mallet and metal strainer to get the top layer of ice out when they get uncovered in the morning.
5. Plan ahead for poor weather
Watch the weather, and plan ahead. Try to do outside tasks on warmer days, when things aren’t frozen. Also, when storms are predicted, ensure that extra grain rations are setup and there is plenty of hay.
6. Keep hoses in a heated area
If possible, keep hoses in a heated area to make watering easier. A quick-connect (like the ones you’d find at hardware store), are a great way to make attaching and detaching very easy.
7. Put the drag in the arena during snowstorms
When the snowflakes start to fall and we know accumulating snow is on its way, we put the tractor drag into the indoor arena. Some winters it will live in there for weeks/months at a time. We do this for many reasons: the large indoor door will freeze shut and it is a pain to try to keep it able to open/shut all the time, we don’t have to worry about patches of snow falling all over the footing from the tractor drag being out in the elements, the tractor is much happier to start, as the indoor stays a little warmer than the outside temperatures, and it is very convenient to be so close to where it is needed. We make sure it is out of the way, blocked off, and in as safe of a spot as we can make it.
8. Keep a propane torch handy
It is also handy to keep a propane torch readily available to unfreeze latches. We just keep in mind to be careful because things can heat up very quickly and then be too hot to touch!