If you live in the country, and especially on a ranch, it's never too early to think about winterizing. For those of us who are in the Northwest, beginning of October can bring first snows for sure. So, here are 10 things to do before those snowflakes start flying.
- Make sure emergency supplies are within easy reach. Outfit your home and barn with essential supplies such as flashlights, extra batteries, fuel for generators, a cell phone car charger, and a battery powered radio. That also includes making sure your propane tank is full and your winter time tools and equipment are in working order and handy 'cause it's better to be prepared for being snowed in and a power outage than to find yourself scrambling when the emergency hits.
- Stock up on hay. Horses are hearty eaters to the tune of about 600 pounds of hay per month for a 1000 pound horse. So, it's important you have enough on hand to keep your equine buddies fed if you get snowed in. Also, make sure to store that hay in a clean, dry, and convenient area.
- Keep water in livestock tanks from freezing. Livestock need a lot of water in the winter - eating snow is not nearly enough. Thankfully, there are some fairly inexpensive ways to keep their water from freezing, so do some research and do whatever you need to do before temperatures drop.
- Make sure you've provided some kind of dry shelter for your animals. If you already have shelters and sheds, make it a point to inspect them to confirm no repairs are needed before winter hits.
- Keep rodents at bay. Mice, voles, rats, and other rodents have a greater need for food during winter months too. Make sure they're not munching on your livestock feed. Use rodent-proof bins to keep all your supplemental feed, minerals, or grain in, and you'll be even better off if you also have barn cats to keep the pesky lil' critters in check.
- Check and double-check your fences. This is especially important for those times when forecast calls for freezing rain. You don't want your livestock making their way out into the big, wide world when an ice storm hits.
- Cover your plants. Plants don't need to die with the first frost, and you'd be surprised how long your fall garden can survive with a bit of row cover. This material is designed for the purpose of keeping the cold off the plants.
- Get your house winter-ready. Stuff draft stoppers (or plain towels) under doors, calk your windows, install weatherstripping where needed, clean your chimneys or replace your furnace filter. Don't forget to stock up on food for yourself too.
- Buy battery operated headlamps if you don't already have them. Winter days are short, and you'll be doing a lot of your chores in the dark. A headlamp will keep your hands free and your path lit in front of you while you tend to your animals in the dark.
- Make sure your waterproof clothing and boots are still wearable. Also, check all the gloves, warm hats, and wool socks for signs of wear and tear, and either repair them or buy new ones before frost starts nipping at your nose, toes, and other body parts.
Oh, and one more thing before I forget... Get those holiday gifts early 'cause you probably won't be able to visit that local mom and pop store in person this year if 'rona continues to mess up everyone's plans as it's been doing so far. Here at Buckaroo Bling, we have plenty to choose from for that stylish cowgirl in your life. Check the few suggestions below, or head on over to our shop by clicking that big orange button.