Staying warm while tending animals this winter...

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by RedTartan, Sep 11, 2006.

  1. RedTartan

    RedTartan Icelandic Sheep Supporter

    May 2, 2006
    Northeast Ohio
    I'm a completely new homesteader. In fact, I even hesitate to use that label for myself. I have what I'd consider a hobby farm. I keep chickens and ducks. Next year I hope to add a couple of goats.

    I love winter, but I don't love biting cold. It's always biting cold early in the morning. How do you dress in the morning during winter? How do you keep your hands from freezing while you're filling water bowls? Waterproof gloves?

    Please, put your tips for staying warm while outdoors in this thread.

    Thanks much,

    :) RedTartan
  2. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

    Oct 15, 2005
    Near Traverse City Michigan
    I wear a cotton t-shirt, then a long sleeved cotton shirt, then a thick long sleved wood shirt. If its windy I might wear some sort of wind breaker. I reserve as much of the laborous chores as possible for winter because they get me out of th ehouse, and they help your body to generate heat. If you get chilly shovel some snow. Carry water in buckets to your animals instead of using the water faucet that might be in the barn. he labor will warm you up. Thats really my trick. Doing manula labor when Im outside in the winter.
    To keep my hands warm, I alternate between wet jobs, and dry jobs. That gives your hands a little time to warm back up.

  3. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

    Oct 12, 2003
    my secret? i don't go to work until 2pm, so i wait til the sun comes up over the mountain (about 11am) before i go out to do chores.

    i also keep some 6 gallon jugs facing south, in case the water is frozen. i can carry water to the critters in those jugs.

    wet hands? get wet, stick in armpits until thawed, then carry on. :)
  4. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

    Feb 23, 2005
    Southwestern PA
    I'm a cold wimp, but here's my pre-dawn winter get-up, if I have to be out for any length of time:

    *long underwear or fleece pants
    *flannel lined jeans
    *silk turtleneck undershirt
    *heavy cotton turtleneck
    *heavy wool sweater
    *down vest
    *ski gloves
    *fleece muffler to cover mouth and nose
    *fleece lined hat with ear flaps
    *two pairs of wool socks
    *insulated winter boots

    I think that's it, and YES, it does take me a long time to get dressed! And YES, it does make me look like a marshmallow! That's mostly for early morning trail rides in single digit weather--if I were doing something really active, I'd start shedding some layers.

    I'm thinking about buying one of those insulated carhart suits--it might cut out a few layers....
  5. jill.costello

    jill.costello Well-Known Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    Ocala, FL
    I am a big believer in "smart" chores- I do all my "dry work" first, and the LAST thing I do is water buckets/breaking up ice/adding warm water to top-off/etc. That way, I have a "window" of several hours that the water will STAY un-frozen until the next time I have to go out there and do it again. (used to live in Wisconsin; had an "ice hammer" for breaking up 1-4 inch layers of ice on troughs,etc)

    Layering clothes is a great suggestion. I have found that 3 layers of cotton shirts (tee, and 2 flannel shirts) keep me far warmer and make moving around easier than one big puffy coat. I worked through 8 Wisconsin winters and never once put on a jacket! Just kept my EARS COVERED and wore thin WOOL liners under my leather work gloves (wool stays warm even when wet).

    Remember that AIR INSULATES, so don't stuff your feet into tight boots with alot of layers of socks on; ONE pair of quality wool socks in leather boots is very adequate if you LEAVE ROOM for your toes to wiggle and keep the warm air around them. (tight boots decrease circulation, so the fresh warm blood can't get to your toes!)
  6. Walt K. in SW PA

    Walt K. in SW PA Well-Known Member

    May 13, 2002
    SW PA
    Keeping my hands warm in winter has been the biggest challenge, especially since they can get wet so easily doing our kind of chores and outdoor work. Last year I discovered the waterproof winter work gloves sold by the Duluth Trading Co. and decided to splurge on a pair for everyone in the family for Christmas. Bottom line: they were a good investment and on all but the coldest days we had happy (and dry) hands. On the really cold days we switch to old ski gloves and try to be a little more careful.
  7. SW Ohio

    SW Ohio Well-Known Member

    Aug 19, 2002
    Chickens and ducks here. Winters near Dayton are not as bad as up north. But layers of clothes gets my vote too. A wind-proof outer jacket over a couple layers (t-shirt/flannel) and a good hat. Most heat is lost to through the head. Warm boots and wool socks too since cold feet make my whole body feel cold. But all and all I just keep moving and look forward to that warm cup of coffee when the morning feed/water chore is done. I am only out for about 20 minutes. I use the afternoon visit for the more time consuming tasks.

    I have extra water containers for the chickens. I bring in the frozen ones to thaw and replace them with fresh ones. I wait until after they birds are off the roost so they can get to the water before it ices over. They do learn to drink while they have the opportunity. I also don't fill the containers full so they wont be damaged as much when frozen and thaw easier. For the ducks I use the black rubber feed bowls which stay flexible for knocking out the ice.

    I usually tough it out bare handed but have used wool gloves, even the ones with the finger tips exposed. The neoprene fishing gloves are good too. Wet fingers in the winter stick to cold metal so I try to remember to handle fencing or door locks before the hands get wet...
  8. alpinechicken

    alpinechicken Active Member

    May 6, 2003
    I have several pairs of the neoprene gloves from the sporting good section of KMart. I love them! Cheap and they do the trick.
  9. AnnaS

    AnnaS Well-Known Member

    Nov 29, 2003
    Verndale MN
    All of the above!
    I have about 45 minutes of chores (milking, feeding & watering) in the winter, and at 6 am in January, it can be -20 below.
    I have the layers including a wool Pendelton shirt and topped off with a thick down parka. Long underwear, jeans, then wool pants. Cotton socks, wool socks and a pair of snow boots one size larger than my regular size.
    I have a milk house heater in the milking area to warm up my hands. Can't milk with mittens.
    I HAVE to wear my rabbit fur Mad Bomber hat. A good warm hat will do more to keep you warm than any other peice of clothing, plus it insulates your ears, which can get frostbitten in SECONDS here. I know that for sure!
  10. wvpeach1963

    wvpeach1963 WVPEACH (Paula)

    Feb 8, 2006
    west virginia
    red Tartan,

    I have loads of family up your way in Wayne county. Seville , Creston, Burbank.

    Where the winds blow the drifts as high as the telephone poles once in awhile.

    They are farmers and hunters. The only thing I can say is they must be used to that weather. My sister a avid hunter can go all day in a blind deer hunting in sleet and snow and just be pink cheeked for her efforts no whining.

    I on the other hand whine and spend the evening lamenting the feeling may never come back in my feet.

    needless to say I try to visit in the summer and fall.
  11. longshadowfarms

    longshadowfarms Well-Known Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    I too have ducks in the cold weather. Dress the rest of your body out the wazoo to help keep you warm. Wool and carharts are your friend. Keep the ears and/or head covered for sure. With the duck water I prefer leather mittens, wool liners inside the leather mittens if needed. If the leather and wool get wet (your "water" will be ice much of the winter) you can still keep relatively warm if the rest of your body is warm. If you have the option, water your birds around 10 am to give the "warmest" time of day for them to keep the water open, then again around 4 pm so they get a drink before they go to bed.
  12. Hammer4

    Hammer4 Well-Known Member

    Oct 13, 2005
    Dressing warm has been covered pretty well.

    Think of ways that you can provide water without handling a hose every day or more than once a week. Get the 7 gallon waterers that sit on the electric base ( they look like galvanized trash can lids ) that have a small heating element to keep the water from freezing......

    Plan and work these things out now, trying to keep the water from freezing can make you miserable and wish you had never moved to the country....
  13. RedTartan

    RedTartan Icelandic Sheep Supporter

    May 2, 2006
    Northeast Ohio
    Wow! Thanks, guys, for all the great suggestions. I definately need a hat better than the one I currently own. I'm thinking long underwear might be a good idea too.

    Hammer4, I'm definately going to look into getting an electric waterer. That's a great idea. It hadn't occured to me that I could waterer less than twice a day.

  14. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 6, 2004
    Michigan's thumb
    Last year I spun some wool/alpaca yarn and knit up a nice aviater hat. Warm, but the wind went through it, so I knit another one using smaller needles. This is a cap that is started at the crown, enlarged to the ears, then earflaps are knit. Stays on without tying. I use leather driving gloves to move hay. If it's real cold, I wear mittens, then change to the leather gloves to work, then back to the mittens.
  15. Scomber

    Scomber Well-Known Member

    Jan 30, 2005
    Dan's Felted Socks: they knit up in as little as 2 hours per sock. Be warned: they start out looking huge. But they do shrink down to be just right.

    2 Skeins Lambs Pride Bulky (85% wool, 15% mohair) (1 skein for each sock)
    ~30 yards worsted weight 100% wool for heel and toe reinforcement

    Size 10 1/2 by 14" circular needle
    Set of size 8 double pointed needles

    Cast on 40 stitches, join in a ring, and knit 10 rows of 2k 2p rib.
    Knit 5 rows stockinette stitch, decreasing evenly around by 4 stitches on the fifth row (row 15 of total work).
    Knit 10 more rows stockinette stitch, decreasing evenly around by 4 stitches on the tenth row (row 25 of total work.
    Knit 10 more rows, beginning to weave in the reinforcement yarn in the last 8 stitches of the tenth row.
    Continue weaving in through the first 9 stitches of the 11th row. Turn.

    Heel flap and turning the heel:
    Purl 17 stitches with both strands of yarn. Turn.
    Knit 17 stitches. Turn. Continue until there are 10 rows of double yarn fabric (5 knit, 5 purl) ending with a knit row.
    Purl 10 stitches, purl two together, purl one, and turn.
    Slip one, knit 4 stitches, knit two together, knit one, and turn.
    Slip one, purl 5 stitches, purl two together, purl one, and turn.
    Slip one, knit 6 stitches, knit two together, knit one, and turn.
    Slip one, purl 7 stitches, purl two together, purl one, and turn.
    Slip one, knit 8 stitches, knit two together, and knit one.
    This completes the heel flap and turning the heel. Separate the two yarns and begin weaving in the reinforcement yarn.

    Instep gusset:
    Pick up seven stitches along the side of the flap, knit 15 stitches across the instep, and pick up seven more along the other side of the flap.
    Knit 17 stitches (11 along the bottom of the heel and 6 out of 7 picked up along the side). Knit two together. Knit 13 stitches. Slip-Slip-Knit.
    Knit 22 stitches (6 along one side, 11 across the bottom, and 5 along the other side). Knit two together. Knit 13 stitches. Slip-Slip-Knit.
    Knit 20 stitches (5 along one side, 11 across the bottom, and 4 along the other side). Knit two together. Knit 13 stitches. Slip-Slip-Knit.
    Knit 18 stitches (4 along one side, 11 across the bottom, and 3 along the other side). Knit two together. Knit 13 stitches. Slip-Slip-Knit.
    There should now be 32 stitches on the needle. Knit two rows (64 stitches).
    Knit 16 stitches (3 along one side, 11 across the bottom, and 2 along the other side). Knit two together. Knit 13 stitches. Slip-Slip-Knit.
    There should now be 30 stitches on the needle.

    Knit stockinette until there are 30 rows (25 for women's) of single yarn stitching counting from the center of the bottom of the foot from the heel forward.
    Six stitches before finishing row 30 (25) begin weaving in reinforcement yarn.

    Including center stitch at the bottom of the foot, knit 6 stitches, then knit two together.
    Begin knitting onto double points.
    Knit 4, knit two together. Repeat through three more decreases (now 25 stitches total on needles).
    Knit one row (25 stitches).
    Knit 3, knit two together. Repeat through four more decreases (now 20 stitches total).
    Knit one row (20 stitches).
    Knit 2, knit two together. Repeat through four more decreases (now 15 stitches total).
    Knit one row (15 stitches).
    Knit 1, knit two together. Repeat through four more decreases (now 10 stitches total).
    Knit two together five times (now 5 stitches total).
    Cut yarns. Thread end onto a darning needle and lead through the five remaining stitches to bind off. Weave in end.

    Wash socks once in machine with regular laundry, and machine dry. Test fit. Repeat until felted to desired size. Thereafter machine wash gentle and air dry on a rack.

  16. Dink

    Dink Well-Known Member

    Jan 12, 2006
    North Carolina
    Lots of layers, waterproof insulated boots,coveralls,waterproof gloves.
  17. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2003
    Carhartts. Red lined for normal winter weather, black for the really bad days. Carhartts always go on sale right before Thanksgiving!

    Insulated rubber boots. They really do keep your feet warm.

    As someone else has mentioned...wool gloves inside leather gloves. I have tried darn near everything and that is the one that works for my hands. I am very protective of my hands because they hurt badly in cold. Wool and leather works!

    I usually wear my sweats and a t-shirt under my carhartts. I add a fuzzy hat and a scarf and I can be outside all day, in any weather.

  18. Shinsan

    Shinsan Keeping the Dream Alive

    Jul 11, 2006
    Hunter Valley NSW AUSTRALIA
    Protecting the head is probably more important than many people realise: Place the palm of your hand on the back of your head, towards the top, and you will feel a raised part, like a big bump. (The occiput) Press your hand firmly here and you will find it gets quite warm. This is because there is a large blood supply to this area, and it can act as a radiator. If you wear a hat that can insulate this part, you will retain body heat longer. (Something I learned as a diver.)
    And definately the feet - usually if you can keep your feet really warm the rest of your body won't feel the cold as much.
  19. Jim-mi

    Jim-mi Well-Known Member

    May 14, 2002
    If I'm, gonna use the walk behind snowthrower, or most any out door activity, its --- Carharts. Favorite winter hat what else--a lined Carhart.

    Go find a Tractor Supply store and look at their selection.
    Carharts are not kmart cheap.......but if you want the best......
  20. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 31, 2002
    No. Cent. AR
    In SD at 20 below I would wear silk long johns, cotton fleece sweat pants, insulated sock and then wook oversocks, cotton turtleneck long sleev shirt, sweat shirt and insulated CARHARTS, larger size boot than usual to accomodate the fat socks, thinsulate gloves then leather gloves and ALWAYS a wool hat to cover the ears. A human looses 80% body heat through the head - keep the noggin covered, keeps the body warm. Works in bed that way also. On REALLY cold nights I wear a flannel night cap and stay warm and toasty.