We had a beautiful fall in eastern South Dakota this year, but one thing about the seasons is that they change. This week, autumn has stepped aside early as the Midwest was blanketed with freezing rain, wind and snow the last couple of days.
We don’t have much snow cover on the ground in our area yet, so our cattle are still out grazing cornstalks. However, this early taste of winter is a good reminder to get things winterized before another storm hits.
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Here are five steps to winterizing the ranch and questions to ask yourself in getting prepared for bad weather:
1. Have your forage and feedstuffs lined up.
Have you hauled your hay and straw home from the fields yet? Are they stacked within a reasonable distance from where you feed your cattle? Do you have a plan in place to move snow out of the way to get to your bales, if needed? If a feed truck can’t deliver grain out to your place, do you have enough feedstuffs on hand to make it through a tough winter spell?
2. Organize your winter gear.
There’s nothing worse than waking up to that first snowstorm and not knowing where your winter gear is when it's time to head outside and do chores. Do you have your coveralls, hats, boots, gloves, long-johns, and wool socks ready to go? It’s time to haul them out of storage, give them a good wash, and hang them up in the mudroom, so you’re ready to battle Old Man Winter when the time comes. Don’t forget to pack a winter survival kit in your cars, as well, and dig up those ice scrapers, too, for those frosty mornings.
3. Prepare for the worst.
What if your electric waterers freeze up? What if your electricity goes out? What if you can’t get to town for more diesel or gas for your tractor? Double-check that you have extra fuel on hand. Make sure your generator is ready to go. Have the supplies you need ready to thaw out a waterer. And stock up the cabinet and freezer with food, just in case you get snowed in for a few days.
4. It’s time to think about calving season.
If you calve in the winter months like we do, it’s not fun trying to hunt down calving supplies in the cold winter months. As they say, “make hay while the sun shines.” Get your calving supplies lined up and ready to go now to save you stress for later.
5. Tackle that honey-do list.
I’m adding this one for my husband. I know it’s going to get cold, and he’s not going to want to hang Christmas lights on our house and in our yard much later in the year. So why not get a head-start and get those things done now? In addition to preparing for the holidays, there are many things to do around the yard that aren’t as easy once winter arrives -- tilling up the garden, putting away the lawn mower for the season, covering up the rose bushes, winterizing the combine and hay baler, etc. Tackle these honey-do chores now, and you’re wife will sure thank you!
What other tasks must be completed before winter arrives? Are you ready for the winter months? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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