A couple of days ago I posted about the winter must-haves for the rural lifestyle–things to keep YOU warm through the winter. But now I want to cover the things you’ll need to take care of your homestead when things start to look like this:
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- Heated water buckets or some sort of heat source for your water. My choices: Flat-Back Heated Bucket. I’ve got two of these, one in each horse stall. The flat back is perfect because it sets nicely against the wall. I don’t hang my buckets–I set them right on the ground, but I still have an S-hook on the wall that holds the bucket handle in place. Horses are known for picking things up and moving them around, so when you’ve got a bucket with a cord plugged in you want to keep it secure. The cord is nicely protected in a metal coil to prevent chewing, and can be tucked away in the bottom compartment of the bucket for year-round use. Heated Pet Bowl. I’ve got three of these. One for the cats in the feed room of our barn, and two in our chicken coop. Even in the winter chickens drink a lot of water, and now that we’ve got ducks we have one for them in their area of the coop. Yes, they’ll most likely make a mess trying to swim in it. But they need non-frozen water, so we’ll just have to see how the winter goes!
- Buckets. And lots of them. Now that we can’t hook up our hoses, drag them out to the coop, and fill up waterers right then and there, we have to carry buckets of water from the barn or the house spigot. I always make sure to have buckets in both the coop and the horse barn. The coop is closer to the house, but the barn has a spigot inside that has yet to freeze in the winter (knock on wood!).
- Extension cords. I don’t like a lot of extension cords but if you don’t have wiring and outlets every few feet in your barn what else are you supposed to do? We need these in order to plug in most of our heated water buckets, and we do our best to keep them up high and out of the way of the animals, and clear of hay, straw, dust, or any other objects.
- Straw for bedding. I use sawdust in the horse stalls to keep them dry and comfortable, but as temperatures drop straw can add a lot of warmth. We’ve got straw bales in our loft that the cats cozy up in, but I also put some in boxes for them. Cats sure do love boxes. I also put fresh straw in the chickens’ nesting boxes and on the coop floor for added insulation.
- Gravel/crushed stone. This is good for icy patches that animals have to cross to get into the barn or to a feeding area. I don’t turn the horses out if the ground is icy, but if they need to walk across an area with ice, then gravel or crushed stone will create traction for them.
I’m sure I’ll think of more things later, but these are the main ones I already have ready to go. What would you add?