By Emily Folk
As warmer days draw to a close, it's essential to prep your farm for the new season. While winters can signal a change in routine, you can prepare for what's to come. Here's a look at 10 ways to make sure your farm is ready to handle winter.
1. Pick Your Crops Wisely
To ensure your farm yields healthy and edible crops, you'll want to strategically choose seeds to plant towards the end of summer and start of fall.
Which crops reach their maturity during the start of the cold season? If forecasts project a handful of frosts or harsh conditions, avoid plants with a low tolerance for winter conditions.
2. Deep Clean Your Interior
While tending to massive yards, crops and farm animals, some owners neglect the inside of their home. When temperatures begin to drop, it signals the perfect time to break out a few dust rags, mops and cleaning products.
Give your dining area, kitchen and other key areas of your farm's interior a rub down before the start of fall. You'll remove unwanted debris and dirt — an act you'll thank yourself for later when you cozy up by the fire.
3. Create an Emergency Kit
Winter storms can leave you cooped up in your farm. Create a supply kit to guarantee you and your family stay safe during an emergency.
Essential items to pack in a disaster or emergency supply kit include a portable generator, bottled water, flashlights and a first aid kit. Don't forget to include personal belongings like medications and back-up copies of vital documents.
4. Prep the Soil
Make a goal to compost your soil in the fall, so it maintains a healthy state to the end of the year. By prepping your land, you'll make it easier to plant new crops when spring arrives — maximizing your chances of creating healthy and thriving plants.
Clear away debris that might get hidden by snow or ice. If you plan to plant winter crops, remove old plants and till the soil.
5. Store Gear in a Shed
As the season transitions, you may find yourself with different tools on hand. Summer and fall accessories, such as mowers and hoses, no longer need to be readily available.
Keep your barn's external space tidy by placing equipment in a protected shed or storage space. This simple act will prevent falls and keep you safer. It will also keep your farm gear in optimal shape throughout the year.
6. Prep Your Barn's Roof
Snow can create a strain on your barn, leading to thousands of dollars in potential damages. When you're preparing your farm for the winter season, it's crucial to give added care to your roof.
When performing routine maintenance, evaluate your roof's history and schedule an inspection by a professional. Make repairs before winter to avoid exposure to elements that can worsen pre-existing damage.
7. Meet All Needs
Winter can prove tough on your land. It can also take a toll on your animals. Stock up on hay, food supplies, feeders and blankets. Your goal is to provide livestock with optimal comfort and health during the change of seasons.
Have a recommended vet on hand to call in case of emergencies. If you do your research now, you can save precious minutes later.
8. Consider Canning Food
Fresh fruit and vegetables aren't easy to come by in the winter compared to sunnier seasons. To ensure your farm has access to staple food items, consider canning products before winter sets in.
Use a pressure cooker to store food throughout the season. The method dates back to 1795 when Napoleon offered a reward for the invention of a new food preservation technique. Consider canning a diverse array of items so you can switch up your meal planning during colder days.
9. Reinforce Fences
Broken or loose fencing can leave your farm vulnerable to animal escapes — a less-than-desirable act you don't want to confront in the middle of a snowstorm.
During fall, check your fence for open or potential problem spots. If necessary, replace old fencing, so you're ready for winter.
10. Safeguard Against Hypothermia
While it may be tempting to get all of your farm-related work done as soon as possible, it's crucial not overexert yourself in cold conditions.
If you start to exhibit signs of hypothermia, seek medical attention immediately. Wear extra layers of clothing outside in harsh temperatures and if the wind chill is higher than average.
While winter doesn't provide the ideal conditions for a farm, you can continue to thrive during the season. With the ten tips above, you can cozy up inside with peace of mind.
About the author:
Emily is a sustainability writer and avid gardener. You can read more of her work on her site, Conservation Folks, where she writes about helping tomorrow’s planet today.