7 things that make winter on a block easier
Good equipment saves you time and money.
Words: Nadene Hall
A cold, wet day makes any job outside just that much harder. These seven items mean you’ll spend less time working in the cold, and prevent common problems:
1. Latex thermo gloves. These make it easy to grip things like hay bale string without damaging or hurting skin. Your fingers can still move and also stay warm.
2. A good torch or headlamp. Look for one with a long-distance beam (70-100m), which makes finding stock in the dark much easier. You can get ones that are USB-chargeable, but most use AAA batteries.
3. Sharp hoof clippers/shears that fit your hand, especially if you have small hands/short fingers. Ideally, get a pair that can be sharpened.
4. Hoof spray. You can get iodine to help initially with footrot. Look for Repiderma spray in rural supply stores, which helps prevent and heal foot scald. Talk to your vet if you need an antibiotic spray.
5. Traps and/or poison. A long, dry summer and warm autumn in many places means there are huge numbers of mice and rats around trying to steal stock feed.
6. Tap and pipe fittings. Cold or freezing weather often damages pipe joiners and taps. For some reason, it’s usually at 6am on a Sunday, so it’s always handy to have spare fittings on a shelf.
7. A birthing kit. Great options to have in a pre-prepared go-bag include:
– paper towels/old towels, and a big rubbish bag;
– sharp scissors and iodine spray for umbilical cords;
– long, arm-length gloves – ask your vet;
– lubricant, in case you need to assist with a birth;
– bottles and a range of nipples (calves, lambs, kids);
– a ketol product, for a ewe that’s not eating;
– a thermal or heated blanket;
– a digital thermometer.
A SIMPLE WAY TO BEAT MUD
Paths, driveway, or areas around your barn or coop a muddy mess? Consider laying down a polypropylene geotextile. This special fabric forms a barrier, so mud underneath doesn’t mix with bark or driveway stones sitting on top. Suppliers include Permathene, Empak, Cosio, and Cirtex.
BUY GOOD QUALITY GUMBOOTS
We’ve all had that sinking feeling when we step into mud and feel its cold, squish squeezing through a crack in the back of a worn gumboot.
Look for gumboots that:
■ are made of flexible rubber with built-in UV protection, which makes them longer-lasting, and less likely to crack:
■ have wide cleats on the sole, good for grip on slippery surfaces, and easy to clean off with a hose;
■ are the right fit for you. That could be boots that fit snugly up your leg (leave wiggle room for thick pants, and socks). For others, it’s looser boots with a wider leg so it’s easier to get them off without having to ankle-tap the back.