Readying Your Barn For Winter

At Timberpeg, most of our efforts are directed towards building high-quality timber frame and post and beam homes. We also build many larger structures, such as schools and commercial buildings. If you are looking for a traditional timber framed barn, we can also help realize those plans. While the word barn comes from, bereærn, a contraction of two Old English words meaning "barley storehouse", in modern times a barn can be used to store anything from horses to machinery to classic cars and boats. With the cold winter months fast approaching, we thought we would share some tips for preparing the barn for the season. Preparing now will ensure that your animals and equipment remain in good condition and enter the spring ready to take on the new year.

There are several items of maintenance that are the same for a barn as for a house. The fall is a great time to check on the condition of the roof, removing any debris and repairing the finish as necessary. Whether you are housing animals or equipment, keeping a barn dry in the cold months is perhaps the most important task. You should also clean out the gutters on a barn at this time, and appropriately direct the downspouts. If the runoff water is directed away from areas animals will access, they will track less mud in the barn and you will not need to clean as much.

A livestock/horse barn has several considerations that are different from a house, however. For example, proper ventilation is very important and takes considerable priority over temperature. At least within most of the contiguous states, livestock and working animals will be fine in lower winter temperatures as long as they are shielded from the wind and rain. You should examine the barn now and eliminate drafts, but the barn should not be air-tight. If the barn smells of ammonia (but is being cleaned properly), then you need more ventilation. Since it can get cold in the barn, make sure any water sources are appropriately insulated or heated. Horses drink about 10 gallons a day and prefer water above 45 degrees, so make sure you can provide this. It is also a great idea to inspect any clothing or blankets you keep for animals before the winter comes. You should repair or purchase new clothing as needed in the fall, since it may be difficult or at least more expensive to find replacements in the winter. It can also be much more cost effective to purchase food in bulk now rather than buying throughout the winter. The average horse, weighing about 1000 pounds, will consume about 600 pounds of hay a month. If you buy in bulk, make sure you have a clean place to store the hay that is elevated off the ground, in order to keep the hay dry.

Of course, barns aren't just for hay and horses. They can also be used to house your collection of horsepower, like this barn in Colt's Neck, NJ.

Whether you keep animals or equipment in the barn, keeping emergency flashlights near the door is a good idea, and a first aid kit for people and animals is also a smart item to keep handy. If you are storing power equipment in the barn, make sure it is properly winterized. Antifreeze should be replaced every two or three years, and fall is a great time to do so. If you have power equipment that will not be used over winter, make sure to winterize it properly. This may include running a gas engine dry or adding fuel stabilizers. If you will be using equipment during the winter, use a lighter weight oil if your equipment allows and use additives in diesel fuel to prevent gelling during cold weather. As with your car, it is best to keep a full tank of fuel in equipment you use during the winter. We hope our tips have helped those barn owners out there to make their list for the season.  And, for those out there who are thinking of building a barn and have questions, please contact Timberpeg to learn more today.