Here in Canada’s Maritimes mother nature likes to show off and blast us with all kinds of powerful winter weather. It’s not uncommon to get mega storms with gusting winds, snow, rain & ice pellets all at once. When you wake up to 5FT snow drifts and ice covering your buildings you know it’s going to be a busy day. It is really nice when you’ve already planned in advance for this kind of weather and can quickly go about your chores unimpeded by mother natures wrath.
Our way of preparing for winter is pretty strait forward. If something makes our life difficult, we find a better way to do it. It’s all about working smarter, not harder.
Here are some of our outdoor tips that make life a LOT easier for us in the winter, I hope they’ll help you too!
Most of our sheds and outbuildings are elevated off the ground by about a foot, maybe a bit more. A few of our friends looked at us strangely when they saw us doing this but it really works! The outbuildings, pig shelter and chicken coop, never get snowed in. In the spring they also don’t sit in water which is a wonderful bonus! We can always get into these buildings without having to shovel and dig doors out.
Here’s a video tour of our homestead in winter. It will show some examples of our elevated outbuildings near the end of the tour: Winter Walk Around – January Tour Of The Homestead
Inward Opening Doors
On buildings that are not elevated, the doors open inward. We erroneously had the chicken run door opening outward when we first built it. There were times that we could not get inside to feed and water the chickens for an hour. A mound of ice and snow would settle in front of the door over night, blocking the door. There is no downside to having doors that swing inward whenever possible.
Good Door Closures
Some of our doors have old fashioned. basic bolts for closures. Those old fashioned bolts are a NIGHTMARE. They always freeze up, seize up, and need to be adjusted to get them to open or close.
The closures that work best are heavy duty t-handle powder coated lock for sheds, outbuildings and chicken coops like these ones. It seems like such a small detail but there’s nothing more frustrating than having to spend half an hour working on a bolt just to feed your chickens.
Own some penetrating oil. It’s a good idea to spray locks and bolts occasionally to prevent them from seizing up. In the event that a bolt does seize up, a good spraying of penetrating oil worked into the bolt will fix the problem quickly. We use B’laster 16-PB Penetrating Catalyst and it works great!
We used to try and clear paths to all of the buildings. It was an exhausting and endless battle. We were burning a lot of fuel only to have the wind cover over the paths a day later. I am not sure why we were so late to the game with snowshoes but they are AMAZING! Slip them on and do your chores with ease. You can move fast, quickly breaking trails as you go and there’s far less risk of you falling down or turning your ankles. You can use a lightweight sled to pull all of your supplies. We don’t bother to shovel paths anymore when we can just walk on top of the snow.
The snowshoes that we use are the Mountain Expert model made by Faber: here’s a link to the manufacturer page. We aren’t affiliated with this brand, I just really like them. They have a wide range to choose from but this model was the most practical for navigating “a wide range of terrain”.
Working outdoors in the winter can be challenging but you can make it easier on yourself. Take note of all the things that cause you the trouble over the winter. Often it’s really small things that cause the most hassle like. Over the summer you can set aside time to work on making changes and preparing for the winter ahead. When winter arrives you’ll be grateful that you took the time to prepare!