Depending on where you live winter can be a trying time on the homestead, but with a little preparation, we can weather the storm a little easier and make those long winter months safer and less stressful. Here are a few things you may need to do before it gets too bad outside.
Get Your Vehicles Ready
- Check antifreeze – You will need an Antifreeze/Coolant Tester
- Check and replace older batteries with a 12V Car Battery & Alternator Tester
- Remember to keep the gas tank near full to avoid freezing water in the fuel line
- Check tires and spare tire for proper inflation by using a Tire Gauge
Make Sure You Have Emergency Items In Your Vehicles
- Bag of sand, road salt, or non-clumping cat litter. For weight to help with traction as well as placing under tires when you need extra traction.
- Ice Scraper and Snowbrush
- Heavy Duty Jumper Cables
- Auto Emergency Snow Shovel Flares or Road Safety Triangle Kit to warn other motorists if you break down
- A Good Flashlight like the MagLite LED 3-Cell D Flashlight
- A gallon jug of drinking water
- First Aid Kit
Prepare Equipment For Storage
Make sure all gas-operated equipment that will be stored for the winter such as lawnmowers and trimmers has the gas either removed or treated for storage with a Fuel Stabilizer.
Check Out Those Coops and Pens
Check your chicken coops and outbuildings used as livestock pens for drafts and repair as necessary to help your animals to stay warm through the winter. In extreme winters you may need to install a heat source such as a Heat Lamp but make sure you put them in a safe place away from anything that may be a fire risk.
You also need to keep your animal’s water from freezing. You can do this with Heated Bottles for livestock such as rabbits or a Heated Poultry Fountain for your birds or a Bucket or Trough Water Heater for your larger livestock.
Get Those Garden Beds Ready
I like to prepare my garden beds for winter by covering the soil with 3 or 4 inches of a mixture of straw or leaf mulch and compost.
Take Care Of Those Fountains and Ponds
If you have some small garden ponds or water features in your backyard you need to prep them for the winter cold by draining and cleaning them. You can install a Pond De-Icer/Heater in your ponds if you would like to keep them from freezing.
Winterize Your Hoses and Spigots
Make sure you drain hoses and irrigation systems to keep them from busting. You may need to wrap spigots with a Pipe Heating Cable to keep them from freezing if you don’t have a shutoff valve on the inside for them.
Prepare Your Furnaces and Heaters
Make sure your furnace is ready by checking to make sure it is working properly, you don’t want to wait until you need it to find out something is wrong also you need to change or clean your furnace filter. If you burn wood you will need to sweep your chimney to get rid of last year’s build-up before you fire it up this winter in order to prevent a fire hazard. If you have any secondary heat sources such as electric or kerosene heaters you will want to check those out as well and maintenance as necessary.
These are just a few things you may want to check before winter hits your area, you can probably add a few things to this list depending on what you have on your homestead. My advice is to make a list and get it done because everything is harder when your fingers are numb and you have three layers of clothing on.