and it's on one of our t-shirts that we have for sale) is that we are doing "Pioneer Farming". The reason that I say that is because we have sort of built this farm from a blank slate that was basically a prairie and a little bit of woods. It almost felt like we were out there homesteading just like the Iowans that came before us, except that we had a few benefits that they didn't have ... things like gas, electricity, power tools, chainsaws, tractors, trucks, cement floors in our house, and other little things like that. But, as this winter starts off with a little more cold than usual I am reminded of our first winter on the farm five years ago and I'm thankful for just how far we have been able to come. I was also reminded of my childhood reading of Laura Ingalls Wilder's book, The Long Winter and her tales of a horrible winter spent on the plains of the Dakotas in 1880/81. After pulling out our copy and reading some of her memories I think our first winter wasn't so bad after all ... that was really some pioneer farming!
Nevertheless I do have some tips for handling winter on the farm, especially when it comes to livestock ...
- Don't bring livestock to your farm for the winter if you aren't ready for them.
- High quality feed for your animals is a must.
- The combination of cold and wet can really be the worst.
- Water hoses can freeze even if you think you completely drained them.
- Windbreaks or shelters out of the wind are very important for your livestock.
- Know your neighbors, because you may need some help this winter.
- Have a good winter fence (preferably not electric unless you have a plan for shorting).
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