How to Winterize Your Equestrian Property

Though winter brings the holiday season, hockey, and lots of other joys, it also brings harsh conditions to your acreage. And if you do not properly prepare your property, come spring you may have all sorts of issues to deal with. 

After many years of country living I’ve developed a foolproof checklist for winterizing acreages. Ready to get start prepping your property for this winter? Check out the steps you need to take…

Winterizing Your House

It should come as no surprise that the work you do to your house to prepare for winter is the most important. After all, your home is what keeps you and your family safe and warm all winter long. 

Ensure your house is ready for even the coldest, snowiest winter months by performing the following list of winterizing tasks:

  • Put your storm windows back in place
  • Check your heating source and have it serviced if necessary
  • Stop any drafts with caulk, weather-stripping, etc.
  • Clean vents and heat ducts
  • Inspect chimney and flue – clean if necessary
  • Shut off outdoor spigots
  • Close up summer bulkhead entrances
  • Protect any exposed pipes with insulation
  • Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Trim and observe overhanging tree branches (these can come down during windstorms and cold weather)
  • Service and fuel generators
  • Clean gutters

With this short list of tasks, your home will be ready to take on whatever the Canadian winter throws at it. And while you’re at it, be sure to winterize any other living quarters such as horse trailers w/ living space, RV’s, campers, etc. 

Winterizing Your Garden

While you may associate the health of a garden with the work you do in the spring, the truth is that the shape in which you leave your garden in the fall has a dramatic effect on how well things will grow the following year. Thankfully with this list of steps, you should be able to get your garden in top shape for winter, and enjoy an even bigger bounty come next year!

Here are all the steps for preparing your garden for winter:

  • Harvest any remaining summer crops
  • Sow necessary fall seeds and crops
  • Remove all spent plants and add to your compost pile
  • Remove all cages and trellises; clean and store
  • Wrap up all hoses and other irrigation equipment and store neatly in your barn or shed, ensuring you drain the last bits of water before storage
  • Add in your preferred soil additives
  • Insulate your topsoil with mulch or other cover crop
  • Place hoop houses or other apparatuses over any winter crops to protect from direct snowfall
  • Insulate any rain barrels with insulation and/or straw blankets
  • Drain lines in auto waterers

With this prep work, your garden will stay in tip top shape all winter long, and be ready to go at the start of spring!

Winterizing For Your Livestock

Of course, one of the biggest responsibilities you have as an acreage owner is the care of any two and four-legged friends you keep on the property. Winter can be especially harsh on your livestock and other outdoor animals, so be sure to take all the necessary steps to keep them happy and healthy right up until spring. 

Now, the specific needs of your animals will of course vary based on your property (and it goes without saying that you should work with you veterinarian to develop a plan that’s right for you). However here is a general list of steps that apply to nearly every type of acreage animal owner:

  • Conduct full checkups on all your animals
  • Perform grooming tasks such as hoof trimming, shearing, and more
  • Check for any leaks or drafts in animal barns and sheds
  • Deep clean all animal housing
  • Stock up on feed, bedding and other needed items
  • Check any livestock blankets for holes and dirt; replace as needed
  • Check heating sources for animals and perform necessary maintenance
  • Ensure animal water supply is properly stored and insulated (consider rain barrels as these can be utilized even in the event of a power outage)

By taking the necessary steps, your animal friends will have a much healthier, enjoyable winter season.

Winterizing Your Farm Equipment

More property means more equipment, and if you’re like most acreage owners, you’ve got a shed or a barn full for tools and tractors. 

As tough as these items may seem, they do require special care before being put away for winter. Here’s a list of what you need to do to ensure they are ready to go come springtime:

  • Put antifreeze in any tractors or other heavy equipment
  • Put antifreeze in your farm truck, and test for quality tires, working heat, strong battery, etc.
  • Put away any tools, ensuring they are clean and dry to avoid rust and corrosion
  • Wash dirt and debris from mowers and other maintenance tools

Quality tools and equipment can last a lifetime, but only if you properly care for them. With these steps, you’ll ensure that the items you need to get the job done will be in pristine condition come the first thaw next spring. 

Winter Emergency Preparedness

As you know, acreage living means that you have plenty of space, peace and quiet. But it also means that you are likely many kilometers away from local emergency services. As such, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you and your family are extra prepared for any emergency situation that might arrive during the winter months. 

The two biggest concerns you need to plan for during the winter months are harsh Canadian storms knocking out your power, as well as the sudden loss of heat in your home. If you have an emergency generator, be sure to give it a proper test and maintenance before winter hits. And even if your generator is ready to go, you still need to have an emergency kit easily accessible in your home, with contents such as:

  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Food & Water for at Least 3 Days
  • Blankets
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Emergency Heat Source
  • Emergency Cooking Source
  • Knives, Can-Openers, and Other Vital Tools
  • First Aid Kit

With these items, you’ll be in much better shape to take on any brutal winter storms. 

Winter on an Equestrian Property

Winter can be incredibly beautiful on an acreage. Fields of undisturbed snow, beautiful ice hanging like a crystal chandelier from trees, and so much quiet you can hear a pin drop. However, don’t let the peacefulness of winter fool you. It can have devastating effects on your property.

So, follow this checklist, and begin your prep work for winter now. I promise you’ll thank yourself come spring!