What do I have to do to get the barn ready for winter?
Hopefully not much…. but here are the totally important things for your barn and farm and horse stalls:
Work on drainage for winter storms - this helps prevent too much mud, and keeps your socks dry. Slopes, little (or big) ditches, and gravel can help here. You can also use electric tape or string to rope off super muddy portions of paddocks - which is, of course, where your horse wants to stand. Pastures and paddocks with more than one gate are useful also, as you can let one gate area rest for a bit. More on mud management here!
You can also fill in low spots with sand or gravel to help drainage.
Repair fencing before the ground is frozen and hard. It might be boards, posts, or both. Save yourself some headache and get any wooden fencing treated and/or painted before the gross and wet weather begins.
Do the heavy lifting chores and repairs before the weather turns.
Make sure your barn’s plumbing can handle the cold! Check that auto heated waterers are working and stock some rubber buckets as back up. For pipes that may not be buried deep enough outside, use some heaping piles of compost on top of them to create more depth and help to prevent freezing.
Make sure your winter hay supplies are sufficient. Do some math and then pad your final numbers as to how much hay you may need. For some (lucky) areas, hay is always available because it’s trucked in from far off lands. For other areas, become buddies with your local supplier and plan ahead.
Are you stocked up?
Verify that your horse’s stall and barn is nicely ventilated when the windows are shut. There’s no good health reason to seal up a barn 150%. If you horse needs help staying warm, use blankets while keeping the air flowing for his respiratory health! You can still close windows and doors if you have proper air flow. Be sure to stay on top of ammonia smells - use Sweet PDZ to neutralize and prevent ammonia. For more on ammonia read this one, and for more on ventilation, read this one!
Keep the air flowing!
Now’s the time to move mats, level stalls, deep clean before it get’s so cold that your fingers are little icicles. Especially important if your horse spends more time inside during the winter. You can find tips on moving mats and deep cleaning stalls here.
Check your barn’s electrical wiring - longer nights mean more light bulbs needed! Not to mention more vacuuming of horses and more heating of water. More barn fires happen in the winter - so step up and prepare! There’s a lot to do to make sure your barn is as safe as possible - this work of writing genius outlines a bunch of ideas for you. For other amazing fire prevention tips, this article is for you!
Are your extinguishers in working order?
Time to double check on the trees! As beautiful as fall can be in parts of the country, it’s also the time that maple trees start to shed their toxic leaves (more on maple trees here!). Oak trees also like to litter the ground with squirrel food and horse poisoning acorns. More on acorns here!
Do you need to close paddocks that get filled with toxic acorns?
Depending on how severe your winters can be, make sure your tools and winter items are in good working order. Generators, snow blowers, and other farm tools that mostly earn their keep in winter should be oiled, lubed, and ready to roll.
What else do you do to get ready for fall and winter?