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Winter Preparations Underway

Preparations for winter are well underway on the homestead. Preparing now is what ensures a smooth winter, with equipment functioning and no major problems. It is critical to do it now — even if it is a 70 degree warm October day — because it will be much harder to do in freezing temperatures, and some things won’t be able to be done in those conditions.

With a structurally sound barn to hold our animals in, probably the most important element of winter preparations for us is preparing equipment. We also take some steps to ensure that the barn is secure, make a few changes in the daily routine with the animals, and do general yard clean up.

Basic equipment winter prep is a good cleaning, checking oil, fuels, and filters. We will add stabilizer to fuel, and we will put any machines that won’t see winter use in secure spots, under cover. We will also check and replace any parts that need it at this point, and do basic repairs that we may have put off during the summer when things were in heavy use.

We’ll also put some time and effort into figuring out exactly where each piece of equipment goes, so that we can easily access what we need in a snowstorm and what isn’t needed is out of the way. While it may sound boring or tedious, these are the steps that help your tools continue to fire up in all weather for many years. If you have hand tools — the rule still applies! Oil them, sharpen them, and store them up properly for winter.

Gaps in the barn can be plugged with rags if necessary and if full repairs aren’t possible at the moment. Windows get treated with a heavy layer of plastic, stretched taut and secured across the window so no snow can blow in. We also have wooden shutters for the barn windows which will be closed when the weather is bad. This year we’re replacing our door locks so we don’t have to worry about the big barn doors shaking loose in the wind.

In the summer our animals don’t get a lot of extra grain, but this time of year we begin to mix garlic and black oil sunflower seeds in with their mineral offerings to give them a general immunity and health boost. Our goats and sheep all get their annual CDT and BOSE shots at this time, and the goats receive their copper boluses.

In addition to generally cleaning up the yard, putting away summer fencing and bringing plants inside, we make sure to lay everything out so we have a plan for snow removal. Chances are we won’t get too much snow, but if we do a little bit of pre-planning keeps it from building up and blocking anything in.

Finally — the last step will be moving the pigs back to their winter digs! Our pigs overwinter in the garden area by the house. They’ll be moved home before November 1st, and their moving back is always the signal that winter weather is officially beginning.

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