7 Wintertime Tips for the Practical Farmer
Practical tips for farm and ranch owners aren’t necessarily important for survival, just convenience. However, it’s the little things we do that lead to overall happiness and well-being during the winter and beyond. If you’re feeling a touch of the cabin fever starting to creep in, slip on those long johns and a heavy coat and head outside because we have a list for you to do.
Drip the Faucet
This isn’t really a new tactic to anyone who owns a house where it gets real cold. If this is your weekend getaway, turn the water off anytime you leave for an extended period plus open the faucets. PVC pipe is strong, but over time it won’t be able to handle the expansion of ice and you’ll find yourself under the house making replacements.
Save the Ashes
Don’t clean the ashes from your fire place until you’re finished using it for the season. The ashes create an insulation for coals in the fireplace so that when the fire burns down, the embers will continue to put out heat. You can also easily stoke a fire as long as it has a good base of hot coals.
Heat the Chickens
Chickens are perhaps the easiest farm animal to maintain. They only need a coup to keep them safe from predators, and some feed and water. If you want to be a kindly sort of owner, put some straw in the hen boxes during the winter so they’ll have somewhere warm to lay eggs. It’ll cause your electricity bill to increase a bit, but heat lamps will warm the coup plus cause hens to lay more often than they usually would in winter due to the fewer hours of daylight.
Cut Firewood on Cold Days
Cutting firewood on cold days allows you to stay warm no matter the temperature. Sure, it can be tough to simply go outside when the mercury hovers below freezing. But run a chainsaw for a half hour or so and you’ll begin shedding layers. He who cuts his own firewood warms himself twice. Where have I heard that?
Winter is the time for trimming trees when they are dormant. Even though many disease-carrying parasites have been beat back by the cold, spray the nub of each limb you trim on fruit-bearing trees with spray paint. This, in essence, “seals the wound.”
Buy a Crockpot
This depends on preference, but a Crockpot (slowcooker) is the epicenter to many a kitchens. If you’re outside for long periods, or come in tired not wanting to cook, the Crockpot is a game changer. You can throw in all the ingredients in the morning, come back later and voila!, a hot meal. Plus, they don’t pull a lot of electricity.
Spread Dead Wild Flowers
This is a practical tip for those who love their spring flowers. On our little farm, once the flora has gone dormant, we’ll uproot the beds of wildflowers and pile them along the edge of a hay field behind the house. After we cut the clover for hay in spring, we’ll run over the field including the piles of dead flowers with a disc in preparation to plant millet. It’s pretty neat to see a nice row of flowers spring up on the edge of the field, some of which we’ll transplant back to the garden. Remember that if a seed is able to make contact with the earth, gets enough water and sunlight and some fertilizer, it’ll survive and even thrive.