Winter Readiness Tips

Winter is almost here; that’s a fact of life. Are you ready?

Whether you live in the suburbs, on a small farm or a large homestead, there are always jobs to be done before winter sets in. Here in the Southern regions, first it’s apple butter time quickly followed by deer hunting season and then, as the snow flies, it’s hog butchering time.  Here are some ideas for a “winter readiness checklist” around your property. They may not all apply to you, but at least one or two could prove vital and even life-saving for you and your family this winter.

Welcome Little Livestock
Are you expecting lambs, kids, or calves? They could be born in the coldest spell of the winter.  Are you ready? Lanterns are a must for light and extra warmth – set them all up now so you don’t have to scramble when the time comes. Feed pans, replacement colostrum, milk, towels – make your list, get your supplies and have them ready to go.  It is nice to do now rather than in the bitter cold. (See Connie Peterson’s previous post about being ready for orphaned lambs and kids.)

Assess Your Outbuildings
Take one complete day and go over your barns and sheds.  Are there drafts, cracked windows or roof leaks?  Fix them. Are all the gates sound and ready to enclose your large animals if needed?  Many of these little chores seem just that until it is 10°F and icy – then they become very big chores and can even be dangerous.

Power Outage Preparedness
Are there flashlights in the barn and the house with fresh batteries?  In the house, do you have plenty of lamp oil and wicks?  Even if you are on the electricity grid an outage lasting 4 to 7 days can be a real problem when tending a household and/or caring for animals.

Seal Heat In, Cold Out
Now is a good time to prepare your home windows. Caulking around the glass inside and out can cut down on drafts and save fuel.  If possible replace outdated windows with energy efficient windows. Replace the draft sweep along the edge of the doors leading outdoors. You would be surprised how much energy that saves.

Have A Chimney? Sweep it Now!
If you heat with wood as we do, keeping a clean chimney means keeping a safe one. A professional chimney sweep should be your annual friend and this includes cook stoves. Our neighborhood found if we could get a group of us all together in the same week the chimney sweep would give us all a price break for the loyalty. Try it!

“Red Up” the Yard
Yard work is also easier in warmer weather.  Sticks and blown down limbs should be cut into manageable sizes and saved for kindling.  Leaves should be raked away from the home and buildings, then put into the compost. Large fallen trees should be chunked into workable hunks and placed under shelter to dry.  Dry wood should be put in storage, close to the house.

Stock the Pantry
The snow is coming down, roads are closed and the kids are home from school for three days. And they’re hungry. Not to worry – you’re prepared with the ingredients for hot, wholesome meals to warm their bellies and their hearts. Being prepared in this way could also be a lifesaver in a power outage – especially if you have a fireplace or a wood stove. You know you still have a way to heat water and cook meals.

First Aid For Everyone
You must also plan for medical attention for you or your family.  Stock up on extra prescription medications (if possible), fever reliever, cold medicines, comfort supplies, bandages, salves, adhesive tapes, vitamins, etc. Do you have a chronic illness such as diabetes, like I do?  I always have to be ready for “what if.” Injury or illness doesn’t care if you’re snowbound and can’t travel to the drug store or doctor’s office. Are you ready?

These ideas will give us all ways have a warm, safe and pleasant winter.

About Dori Fritzinger

I live and work with my multi-generational family in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. We have a farm of cows and calves, wool sheep, dairy goats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, honey bees, a horse and a donkey. We have a goat's milk soap and bath products line available on our farm web site. I enjoy reading, quilting and doing embroidery.