Preparing The Homestead For Winter

There are a few things I like to do before the days get short, the temperatures dip below freezing, and the snow starts blowing.  Even though winter hasn’t actually hit yet this year, we did have a few below-freezing days that I am glad we were prepared for.  It made my efforts feel a little less in vain.

The first thing I like to do is a good cleaning of all the barns and buildings.  This includes our detached garage, an old milk shed, the chicken coop, and the horse barn.  Before I can start organizing, taking inventory, or basically do anything else, I need a clutter-free zone.   And I need to be able to see the floors.  Unfortunately, sometimes you have to clean before you can clean!  Like oh- I want to sweep this section over here, but first I have to move this stack of feed bags, this bucket, that cage–you get the idea.  I take care of the “people” area first, before I dig into where the animals live.

After I have some actual space to move around in my feed and tack room areas, I go through everything and decide what I need to keep, what I don’t, and what needs to come in the house to avoid freezing.  I always need a trash barrel close by.  It’s amazing how much nicer my shelves and storage trunks look after this part is done!

Then I dig into a thorough cleaning of the animals’ residences– things like the roosting bar area in the coop, replacing the straw in and around the nesting boxes, the horse stall walls and floors, and getting rid of cobwebs.  I also like to spray everything, and I mean everything, with a vinegar and water mixture.  I don’t have to worry about any harsh or toxic chemicals being left behind this way.

Next is cleaning waterers and getting out heated water buckets.  Now, the heated buckets should be clean from when I put them away last year, but dust happens.  The vinegar comes out again–each barn has its own bottle.  Once I have the heated buckets where I want them, I have to get my extension cords in place.  Old barns=outlets not conveniently where you want them.  (And that is even after my husband ran more electric.  Without his handiness, we would not have outlets anywhere near the horse stalls.)

Heated Water Bowl

One of our former barn cats, Beans, using the chickens’ heated water dish. Proof that it works for all animals!

Once this is all done I feel pretty confident going into winter.  The last thing I want to do is be scrambling in an emergency situation to take care of things that could have been done ahead of time, or that could have been prevented with some basic care…again.  Last year, the water line to our automatic waterer froze, and we had to go buy more heated buckets.  Lesson.  Learned.

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