Winter is almost here and it is time to ensure that your Virginia Farm is ready to take on the colder months. Although Virginia winters tend to be milder than some states on the East Coast it is a good idea to prepare for the worst and not need it. Just like your home and your wardrobe, the change in season calls for some upkeep to ensure that everything will run smoothly and animals will be healthy come spring. Make sure that you check the following to keep the farm running at it’s best.
Before winter sets in you need to make certain that your farm is winter ready. You will want to make certain that all of your farm equipment is ready to be stored for the long months ahead. If you have not already done so, creating a schedule for regular equipment maintenance is a great idea. You will want to create a notebook where you can keep an account of regular maintenance tasks recommended by the manufacturer and the date that said tasks were completed. You will also want to create a detailed record of any repairs that you may have had to take care of throughout the year. For basic maintenance you will want to check all machinery, equipment and wiring. You will need to change or top off fluids such as hydraulic fluid, antifreeze and replace batteries. Store all of your farm equipment inside for the winter if possible. Keeping your equipment out of the weather will prevent rusting and other issues that could affect the life of your equipment. If you are unable to store all your equipment inside then begin with the most expensive and work your way to the least expensive. This will help you keep costs in check. Finally, if you use pesticides, check the expiration dates and dispose of expired pesticides appropriately and check pesticide application equipment to ensure that it is clean and in proper working order.
Barn, pathways, gates and outbuildings
After taking stock of your equipment, you will want to take a good look around your barn, gates, pathways and other outbuildings. Check for any debris or trash that may be laying around and dispose of it. Check your barn’s roof and doors for any leaks or rust and get this fixed prior to the start of winter. Check that your windows open appropriately to allow air flow as needed. Make certain that all spouts, pipes and faucets are in working order and wrapped to avoid freezing as temperatures drop and check all pathways and gates and update or fix as needed to avoid worse maintenance issues come springtime.
The winter months in Virginia tend to be on the mild side, however due to climate change winter storms have become more intense and it is wise to prepare for extreme weather conditions. Weather proofing your outbuildings will go a long way in keeping your animals safe in the winter. Here are a few other things that you can do to prepare your animals for the winter months. Check the hooves and feet of your animals to ensure that they are clean and healthy. You will want to buy extra grain and hay now so that if you are unable to get those items during a big storm your animals will still be fed and have a dry clean place to sleep. If you do not already have one, consider a water bucket insulator to help keep your water warm for the animals to drink since many prefer to drink warm water when the weather is cold. As with your personal first aid kit you will want to check the first aid kit for your animals seasonally to ensure that you have all items that you may need in an emergency. Be sure to check that all animal immunizations are up to date. This may be another notebook that you keep so that you know which animals may need to have shots or boosters before the cold weather hits.
Fall is the time for harvest and can be very busy for farmers. However, taking a little extra time now prior to the winter months to stock up on supplies, check equipment and buildings and making certain that your animals are in perfect health will mean that you can breeze through the winter months knowing that when spring comes you can get back to the business of farming with a minimum of fuss.