This past August, I posted a blog about things you can do to ensure your combine gives you many years of efficient, problem-free performance (www.titanoutletstore.com/add-years-of-life-to-your-combine/). Some of you are done with your harvest, and others may be seeing the end soon, so it might be helpful to review this information. Mark Hanna, the Extension Ag agent for Iowa state university has more winter tips that I would like to share with you. These tips involve more than your combine and may prevent problems or tragedies during this upcoming season:
- Keep farm equipment such as tractors, semis, skid loaders, pay loaders, feed mixing wagons and manure pumps operating and fueled during the winter. Check batteries and fuel filters as they routinely fail in cold weather.
- If, during your equipment checks, you determine batteries, filters, belts, hoses or any other parts need replacement, remember not to take unnecessary risks during storms. Instead, take some steps to be prepared and be ready to weather the most-challenging conditions.
- Anticipating increased hay, winter forage and supplement needs will ensure the livestock do not go without. Have generators ready in case of power outages. Without generators, losses in productivity and expenses incurred during a long-term power outage easily can offset their cost.
- Keep generators in wide-open spaces. Only operate a generator outside, away from windows, doors and vents to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not use portable generators inside homes or other partially-enclosed spaces.
- Always place your portable generator downwind. Pointing the exhaust away from occupied spaces is critical to avoid carbon monoxide alarm. Get away from the generator if you feel sick, dizzy or weak. Get fresh air immediately. Do not attempt to shut off the portable generator before moving to fresh air.
- Have fuel available. Portable generators may require gasoline, diesel fuel or liquefied petroleum gas, with refueling necessary – possibly several times per day. Regularly check your portable generator to ensure that it starts and operates properly.
I found other useful tips for your livestock from various websites too:
- Keep your water for livestock from freezing by using a larger tank which has more thermal mass, by insulating your tank, or by placing it in a shed protected by the wind.
- Keep your livestock protected from the wind (thick edges of trees along fence rows, barns, gates with blankets).
- Provide dry shelter for livestock: something mobile, a small barn, or a cheaper alternative – fabric shelters. Imagine a large greenhouse with white plastic covering.
- Feed cows late in the day during severe cold to increase heat production during the night through eating and ruminating.
- Properly ventilate barns to avoid skin, eye and respiratory issues from too much moisture, ammonia, pathogens and dust; and keep animals out of the path of that ventilation.
And last but not least, you as the primary caretaker of your farm, equipment and animals should ALWAYS take care of yourself during the winter:
- Winterize buildings not only for your animals and equipment, but for your family too.
- If the power goes out, unplug or turn off all electronic equipment which could be damaged when the power is restored. Also close fuel valves on portable space heaters to prevent possible fires or explosions when electricity returns
- Layer clothing, wear sturdy boots, a hat and gloves. Learn how to properly shovel snow or lift heavy objects to avoid back injuries. Pace yourself and start early to avoid accidents when it’s dark.
- Besides your basic personal protective equipment (PPE), have available a first aid kit, a pocket knife or multi-tool, a headlamp and a radio or cell phone.
- Keep an eye on the weather, and tell someone where you’ll be working.
Old news for most of you? I suppose, but it’s worth repeating. Too many accidents happen because of we become comfortable in our jobs and let our guard down. Don’t let Old Man Winter get the best of you!
-Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team