After a glorious summer and a bountiful harvest, it’s now time to put the farm to bed for the winter. Sure, you could just leave everything where it falls and deal with it in the spring, but you’ll save a lot of time by making preparations before the first snowfall.
If you’re new to farming, you may be wondering which tasks to prioritize before cold weather hits. Here’s a cheat sheet for you, with four ways to get ready for winter.
1. Enrich the Soil
The plants that have grown so vigorously during the warmest part of the year have likely depleted the soil of nutrients. You know all that compost you’ve been saving up all season? It’s time to put it to good use amending that soil so it will be full of nutrients again by next spring. It’s OK if the compost isn’t quite finished because it will have plenty of time to mature before planting season rolls around again.
Once you’ve added the compost to the fields, use a tractor landscape rake to smooth everything out and make sure it’s evenly distributed.
2. Trim Trees
Although you could wait until midwinter to trim trees, this is a task that you may be able to do in the fall. Just be sure the trees have gone dormant before you begin. Any time after they’ve lost their leaves should be safe. You can also trim evergreens during the fall and winter if you feel the need, but they usually don’t need it.
Once you’ve removed the branches that need to go, use a wood chipper attachment to break everything down and use it as mulch.
3. Winterize Tools and Equipment
You don’t want to leave any tools out to rest over the winter, so clean out an outbuilding and put them away. Drain gasoline from any small engines you won’t be using until spring, and clean everything up before storing it.
This is an excellent time to oil any bare metal, including blades. You may also want to sharpen blades at this point, but you may need to do it again when you take them out of storage, so if you’re pressed for time, you can put it off until springtime.
4. Prepare for Snowy Weather
When winter finally arrives, you’ll need a way to keep roads and walkways clear of snow and ice. Although a shovel will work for small areas, what you probably need for most of your property is a skid steer plow attachment. You can use it to push the snow out of the way without breaking your back. If you keep your tractor in a shed or under a cover with the plow attached, it will be ready to go every time it snows.
Take these four steps before the weather turns, and you’ll be in good shape to start farming again when spring arrives. Just think about how good it will feel to begin the growing season without a huge backlog of chores!