Winter preparation will vary from climate to climate, but here in South Central Iowa it means getting ready for temperatures that can head south of zero, snow that can suck you into the ditch, and wind that seemingly will find it's way through all your warmest layers! Because of that in an ideal world I would head into winter with all of my preparations done and then just carry on the minimal chores needed for the farm and relax next to the wood stove. The reality though is that no matter how well I plan to prepare for winter I always miss something, or in the case of this year winter decides to sneak up on me earlier than I think it should arrive. Nevertheless I keep preparing for the short days, cold nights, white snow, and blustery winds. Below you'll find some of the things that I try to do as we prepare for winter on the farm ...
- The Gathering of Firewood - This one might not matter to you, but for me it is how we keep our home warm and our expenses as low as possible.
- The Watering of Livestock - Water tanks, heaters, automatic valves, and hoses! There is so much to keep track of and in working condition when the temperatures drop below freezing.
- The Feeding of Livestock - Feeding in the winter often means working around deep snow, mud, and even roads that are impassable. All of that becomes even more difficult if you rely on a tractor for some of your feeding.
- The Warmth of Livestock - Give the animals a place where they can find shelter from the wind and a dry place to bed down is always priority number one on any farm in the snow belt.
- The Cleaning of the Farm - I love when we get six inches of softly falling snow. It is beautiful and even fun, but where I've run into problems in the past is when it covers up and hides things that I need!
- The Gathering of Warm Clothes - The most important winter preparation in my book is gathering together all of my cold weather clothes so that I can stay warm doing all the other things on my list. If I can't stay out there and stay warm then things aren't getting done.
- The Checking of Fence - If you use electric fence like I use electric fence, and you have snow, then you probably want to have the ability to shut down sections of the fence (or even individual wires) to keep it from shorting out in the snow.
- The Maintenance of Equipment - There are now fully enclosed buildings on my farm where I can pull in equipment and work on it out of the cold and wind, so I like to have all of my equipment ready to go for the winter in hopes of minimizing my breakdowns.
- The Monitoring of the Forecast - If there is a big storm coming I want to have all my hay in place, feeders filled, and plans made for taking livestock to the locker. That means keeping an eye on the forecast even if they don't have the best track record for accuracy.
- The Enjoying of the Season - Winter is going to come to Iowa no matter what I do, so I might as well enjoy the snow as much as possible. And I do enjoy it!
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