Winter is coming and it can be hard on both the farmer and animal. The long cold months ahead can be brutal if you are not prepared. Before the snow starts falling, make sure your farm is ready.
- Batten down the hatches. While ‘batten down the hatches’ is an old shipman’s phrase referring to covering grated openings in the ship’s deck (hatches) with a tarp secured by wooden strips (battens) to prevent water from getting in during a storm, it still is good advice. Today it means prepare for trouble when trouble is imminent. Well, winter on a farm is may not always be trouble, but it is imminent.
- Shelters. Animals are much more sensitive to being wet and wind-blown than to the cold temperatures. The shelters need to be as leak proof and wind proof as possible so you may need to fix the roof, build shutters for windows, etc. Even something as cheap and easy as stapling chicken feed bags across window openings will make a difference and may even last you through winter.
- Cover feeders or bring inside. Rain can get into uncovered feeders and ruin all that expensive feed. Wet feed goes bad quickly and can kill your poultry or other livestock. Even wet alfalfa can produce a toxin, not to mention mold. If you don’t have a barn, invest in a big tarp. It’s way cheaper than replacing all that hay.
- Straw. Make sure your coops and shelter floors are lined with a nice thick layer of straw. Straw helps to maintain the nutrient content of manure by absorbing nitrogen. This helps to keep smells away and provides an insulating layer between animals and the cold, wet ground. Additionally, straw keeps the ground from getting muddy and mud is a nice breeding ground for worms.
- Deworm. Animals go through their energy much quicker in the cold season, which means they need more food. Instead of wasting money, invest in deworming all your animals before cold weather hits. This way, feed is going to your animals instead of the parasites.
- Get that to-do list done. There’s no end to what needs to be done on a farm. Get all those tools and equipment put away so the rain doesn’t destroy them. Insulate pipes so they don’t break. Consider getting a generator in case the electricity goes out. Keep extra feed on hand in case the weather prevents you from going out. Take a walk around your property and your animal pens. Write down what needs to be done before the cold hits.
- Don’t forget about yourself. Lastly, don’t forget about taking care of yourself this winter. Farming is difficult and you have to make self-care a priority over everything else. If your roof is leaking or if you need a jacket, do what needs to be done now to prepare for winter. Also, if you can’t financially meet your needs, but you have animals, realize that it’s ok to sell them to someone else who can love and enjoy them.
Information from FlipFlopRanch.com.