The Crossroads Blog
Country Living Doesn't Stop When It’s Winter on the Acreage!
Get tips on keeping your creatures safe and your buildings in tip-top shape during the winter months.
CARING FOR YOUR
CREATURES IN THE COLD
When it comes to country living, keeping chickens, bunnies, cats or goats on your acreage can be a lot of fun — but caring for them in the winter is a whole other animal. Here are some simple things you can do to keep them healthy and hearty.
- Block out wind and drafts. Chickens, bunnies and cats don’t necessarily need to live in heated structures, but they do need shelters that protect them from the wind and retain warmth. Coops for chickens, hutches for bunnies, even homemade kitty houses should be weathertight, so fix any holes, cracks or leaks. Goats have coats to keep them warm, but they still need a three-sided structure with the opening facing south to prevent exposure to the cold northern wind. Please keep in mind that goat kids need to live in an enclosed shelter.
- Keep bedding dry and ensure ventilation. If your animals get wet, it can lead to hypothermia. A tarp over the roof can help keep animal structures watertight — but make certain there’s still adequate airflow. Ventilation is key to keeping the humidity down, mold from growing and the beds dry. Speaking of beds: Adding an extra layer of straw to your animals’ structures to help insulate them from the cold. Change bedding often — at least twice per week — so it’s clean and dry.
- Properly feed and water. All animals need ample fresh, clean water throughout the day. When it’s below freezing, this could mean changing out frozen water with fresh water every few hours. Animals also need more energy in cold weather to help maintain their body temperature, so make sure they have plenty of feed.
WINTERIZATION OF YOUR BUILDINGS
Country living has its challenges. Heavy snow, ice, sleet and wind can wreak havoc on buildings during the cold months. And pesky pests trying to escape the cold can make for a nasty surprise come warmer weather. What can you do to make sure your buildings stay in tip-top shape?
- Inspect each building. Look for structural issues that may have been caused by inclement weather. Roof damage from an ice-laden tree branch that fell or broken windows from pelting hail will need to be addressed by professionals right away.
Then check the roof for leaks, mold, mildew and rot. You may want to invest in a roof rake to prevent heavy, wet snow from accumulating on your roof and contributing to ice dams in your gutter. Next, examine your windows and doors for any leaks. If you can see light coming through a crack, that means cold, wet air is coming in too. Seal those up with caulk.
- Protect against pests. The expression is “snug as a bug in a rug,” not “snug as a bug in the building I’ve worked hard to maintain.” You don’t want those sneaky silverfish, termites, mice, rats and bats finding a comfortable place to ride out the winter at your expense — or making themselves comfortable come springtime.
There are lots of options for pest control, from ultrasonic deterrents and scented repellents to mouse traps and rat poisons (this one is even safe for use around livestock and pets when used as directed!).
Of course, all these fun, frolicking, cold-weather activities mean you’re going to need some winter duds from a quality country clothing brand. Be sure to check out our collection of custom sweatshirts for men and women, and other country gear for indoor and outdoor work. Order online today, and they’ll be shipped right to your front porch!