On the northern prairie of Montana, preparing the farm for winter is as necessary as planting or harvest. If you live in a climate that gets as chilly as it does here, you likely make similar preparations around your house.
Our farm equipment, like the combines and tractors, undergo a thorough inspection in which we’re looking for possible repairs that need to be done throughout the winter as well as things that need to be taken care of right away to properly winterize them. For instance, a big repair project for this winter is fixing the combine we had to haul back to the farm earlier this autumn.
Water can be particularly troublesome. When water freezes it expands and can break lines and piping and cause a number of other messes and issues. If you also have an underground sprinkler system for your yard and you live in cold country then you know by this picture, how close we were cutting it when you see we are still blowing out a system that is being covered by snow. Another part of our winterization process consists of checking fluid levels on our farm equipment to make sure there is enough antifreeze for 40 to 50 below zero.
The combines, tractors and other machinery are thoroughly cleaned. As you can imagine, driving around in fields for several months tends to create a pretty impressive buildup. But we’re not cleaning purely for cosmetic reasons. Moist soil buildup can cause the metal on the combines and tractors to rust. Leftover straw, that tends to get stuck in the recesses of the combines, encourages rodent nests. And rodents in and of themselves can become a very expensive problem because they like to chew through the wiring and belts when building their nests.
It’s not just the machinery getting a good cleaning, we also pick up the inevitable clutter that accumulates around the farm throughout the season. It’s important to get these things picked up and put away before the snow starts to fall. Snow cover can make a cluttered farm a minefield of potential hazards and liabilities. It’s just easier, and safer, to get it all cleaned up beforehand.
Once the initial winterizing tasks are complete we keep a watchful eye on things through the winter.
Overall, the winterization of the farm can be a time-consuming project but it allows us to efficiently prepare for the frantic planting season in the spring