Running a successful farm requires dedication and planning. No plants or livestock would thrive if you didn't wake up early every day and give all your energy to your farm. No matter what sized property you have, it wouldn't give you nearly as much joy if you cared less or didn't plan for the future.
Farmers plan for each season well in advance. You may think about what you'll grow in the spring, who you'll need to hire to help harvest in the fall and what work you'll need to do to support your animals and plants under the summer sun. Winter also involves a bit of planning, which may seem strange to those new to farming. You might think you can snuggle up under a blanket after fall ends, but there's plenty to do on a winter farm.
Help your future self by reading about these five steps to winter farm prep. Once you've arranged for the upcoming cold weather, you'll know what to expect and how to plan your way around the freezing temperatures.
1. Clean Your Property
When it's warm, you spend most of your time outside. Your livestock may roam grassy hills while you weed and water your crops. It's easy to forget that your farm needs care inside your barn and other structures. A good rule of thumb is that, when the leaves start to fall from the trees, you should clean your property.
Take a good look around the inside of your barn and throw out or sell anything you don't need. Cleaning it top to bottom makes it a nicer place for your animals to wait out the winter weather and store whatever you'd typically keep outside.
Remember to clean other structures as well, like any sheds or garages. It's one less thing to distract you from your work as you go about your winter farming routine.
2. Plan Your Winter Crops
You don't need to retire your love of tending to crops just because it's cold. With a little research, you can plan your winter crops and harvest them in the spring. Kale, lettuce and carrots are just the start of what you can grow in the winter, so figure out what you'd enjoy the most and have fun while you watch them grow.
3. Can Your Recent Harvest
Many farmers use their storage areas to hold onto their fall harvest, but that's a waste of valuable space. After you've harvested all your fall crops, can them for the winter so you can take your time enjoying or selling them. You'll have extra space left over for things like fertilizer and food for your livestock.
4. Check Your Roof
The roof on your home and barn may not be something you think about often, but it handles a lot during the winter. Melting snow seeps into cracks, freezes and melts again, ripping them open even more. This process can happen on a microscopic level and lead to big holes, which is why you should consider checking your roof to ensure you catch any potential problems before you have an emergency.
5. Reinforce Your Fences
When it gets cold outside, animals will want to head towards your barn to escape from the weather. You'll need to reinforce your fences and repair any remaining holes so that your property is protected when you need it the most. A sound barrier also holds up well against rising snowbanks, which you may deal with if you live in a snowy climate.
Consider Your Current Winter Farming Plan
How you decide to prep your farm shouldn't interfere with your current plan. Take care of what you need to do and consider efforts like studying cold weather crops and reinforcing your fences to ensure your property is ready when winter comes. Instead of waiting inside for a chance to get back to what you love, you could spend this winter out on your land.