We’ve enjoyed a typically gorgeous fall so far throughout the Rockies, but Mother Nature is fickle. Truth be told, we’re on winter’s doorstep, especially in high-elevation locales. It’s time to prepare your ranch real estate for the cold and snow that will be here before you know it.
Here are several tasks that ranch real estate owners need to address before winter sets in.
Check and repair fences and gates
This seems like a no-brainer, but snow and wind do a lot of damage to fences during the winter. During warmer months, livestock and migrating wildlife can damage fences. Be proactive and make sure your fences are in good shape and able to withstand the worst that winter can throw at you.
Stock up on feed
Move hay bales to the barn or to a central location that’s easy to access. If you don’t have enough feed to get livestock through the winter, order more now, and have it delivered as soon as possible. And, generally speaking, order more than you think you need. We’re headed into an El Niño winter. Ranches in the central and southern Rockies are expected to endure a cold, wet winter.
Bring the livestock home
If you haven’t already, it’s time to bring the cows home from any public-lands grazing leases or from far-flung pastures. The closer they are come winter, the easier time you’ll have monitoring and attending to your herds.
Make sure your equipment is in tip-top shape
Change the oil and get basic maintenance done on your trucks, tractors, backhoes, snowblowers, generators — anything with an engine. Check your vehicle tires, or, if you live where it snows a lot, put the snow tires on your main vehicles. Check other important items, too, like barn heaters, home furnaces, outbuilding window and door seals, etc. Make sure equipment needed to make repairs is also in good shape and at the ready.
Make sure water sources are in good shape
Water sources freeze during the winter, creating a constant maintenance issue. But, if you make sure all pipes, springs and guzzlers are free of any debris, you’ll have a head start keeping your herds in water all winter long. This is a vital task. Don’t overlook it, and don’t skimp.
Stockpile needed fuel
If you live on a remote ranch, it’s a great idea to have fuel on hand for the winter. Get what you need now to save unnecessary driving to bring fuel back to the ranch when it’s below zero and snowing sideways in January.
Lower fences to allow wildlife to migrate to winter range
This one is often overlooked, but if your ranch, in any way, takes advantage of wildlife resources or includes winter range for deer, elk, or pronghorn, drop the top couple of wire lines on the fences these animals would normally have to jump in order to move through. This makes it easier on migratory game, and it makes your ranch a friendlier place for these important animals.
Know your livestock
It seems simple, until there are a few early surprises come calving season. Know which animals are expecting and make sure they’re on pastures as close to home as possible. Be prepared with all the medical equipment you might need, and put your veterinarian on speed-dial. Do a thorough check on all your animals now and anticipate any problems as it gets colder.
Being prepared is vital to ranch real estate owners, particularly those who run livestock. By being proactive and ensuring that the ranch is running as it should be heading into winter, you’ll lessen the likelihood of a crisis or two when the snow starts to fly.
Winter on the ranch is magical, especially when things run smoothly. Yes, there are always issues during the cold months, but the more you prepare now, the better off you’ll be when something comes up.