Getting ready for winter
Sometimes during the dog days of summer it’s hard to believe that in a few weeks snow will be falling. But now, while the weather is nice, is when we should be thinking about and starting winter preparation. I asked friends and acquaintances in person and through Facebook for what they do to get ready, these are their answers.
In the house:
-Invest in storm windows, or close them if you already have them. For an economical solution, shrink-type plastic covers can help stop drafts from old single-pane windows. Insulated blinds can also help keep the chill at bay.
-Caulk or insulate around windows or doors, if necessary.
-Fill propane tanks
-Stock up on groceries
-Freeze or can fruit and vegetables from the garden or farmers’ market
-Invest in a generator. Make sure it can be properly connected to the house, and that it has plenty of fuel. Know how it works and start it up before you need it. Check the oil, and change it if necessary.
-Stock up on drinking water, especially if you rely on a well for water.
-Locate the snow shovel and de-icer and place them near the door.
In the yard:
-Clean gutters and make roof repairs
-Check vehicle batteries, tire condition, spare tires and winter survival kits. Make sure you have a blanket, nonperishable food, water and a flashlight.
-Drain hoses and sprinkler systems.
-Wash, service and store lawnmowers and other lawn equipment.
-Clean the garden, mulch plants and trees.
-Spray for bugs, inside and out.
-Examine trees for broken or damaged branches—a little chainsaw work could save some major damage in the case of a heavy snowfall.
-Place windbreaks around young trees or stake them to avoid wind damage. Fence with chicken wire or hardware cloth to protect from marauding rabbits.
-Sharpen and start the chainsaw and make sure you’ve got plenty of gas, additive and bar oil for firewood-cutting.
In the shop:
-Wash all equipment, check hydraulic lines and antifreeze and service with the proper weight oil for cold weather.
-Attach cakers, loaders and hook up bale processors. Do whatever necessary repairs or maintenance.
-Throw some Fresh-Cab into equipment that won’t be used for the winter, to ward off rodents.
-Unhook batteries and relax the pressure in hydraulic lines of warm-weather-only vehicles.
-Put doors on side-by-sides and windshields on four-wheelers.
-Fill diesel tractors, pickups and bulk tanks with number one fuel.
-Find power cords long enough to plug in engine block heaters.
-Check tire pressure and condition and put on snow tires if necessary.
-Dig out tire chains.
In the barnyard:
-Fill cake bins.
-Haul hay home, after the worst danger of lightning is past.
-Have the necessary salt and mineral on hand.
-If you mix your own feed, make sure you stock up before storms hit.
-Dig sand and dirt away from barn doors before the ground freezes.
-Set up feedbunks.
-Clean corrals and haul manure onto fields.
-Repair corrals and windbreaks.
-Nail down loose boards, siding or shingles on barns and sheds.
-Check the chicken coop for drafts and dig out the heat lamp.
-Check tank heaters, replacing any that are damaged or getting some age on them.
-If you don’t have tank heaters, locate the axe and pitchfork for chopping ice.
In the pasture:
-Drain pipelines and turn off or winterize stock wells.
-Check hydrants to make sure they are draining back.
-Drain tanks that won’t be used.
-Bank tanks before the ground freezes and pile manure around old windmills if they don’t have weep holes. Manure emits heat, which helps keep the well from freezing.
-Store or winterize unused solar panels, or make sure the angle is right for winter use.
-Put away electric fencers, unless using them during the winter.
-Mow trail roads, stockyards and feed grounds.
-Relax the tension on high-tension wire.
-Clean tumbleweeds from fencelines.
-Worm horses once it freezes.
-Pull shoes and trim hooves on horses so ice and snow don’t ball up as badly.
Winter can be long and hard but by preparing for it, blizzards and cold snaps can be a lot more bearable.