5 things you need to survive winter

 
5 things you need to survive winter featured image

When we first moved to the country in 2002, I had no idea what I needed to survive the outdoors during winter. That first year, I was so cold because I wasn’t dressing properly for the weather. Over the years, I gradually started shopping more at the farm supply stores and less at the mall. Although it might seem that they have a lot of the same products, such as coats and socks, their insulating capabilities are vastly different.

The Original Muckboots for winterHigh-quality boots

It took me more than 10 years to finally try The Original MuckBoots, and in no time, I felt so foolish for not trying them sooner. You might think they are anything but thrifty with a price tag of $100, but they are seriously worth every penny. They come in several varieties, such as Chore Boots or Wetland, which are meant to serve different needs. The Wetland are supposed to be more waterproof than the Chore Boots, so they cost more, but different family members have the different varieties, and we’ve found that the Chore Boots still do a great job of keeping your feet dry when going through puddles and mud. One thing that surprised me is how warm they are, because they don’t advertise them as being particularly warm. However, I discovered that they are actually warmer than my leather and fleece lined winter boots, which I no longer wear outside for chores in the winter. I use the MuckBoots twelve months a year as they are equally awesome in snow and mud.

Insulated Overalls for winterInsulated overalls or coveralls

For too many years, I simply wore jeans or sweat pants with long underwear, assuming that it was the best way to keep warm. I would see other farmers wearing what I considered the ugliest puke-yellow coveralls and wondered why anyone would wear something so ugly. Then one day I went into Tractor Supply, and they had purple insulated overalls. Purple is my favorite color, so I decided to give them a try, and boy did I feel foolish. I immediately understood why people wore those ugly puke-yellow Carhartt’s! They’re warm! I raved about them so much that everyone in my family wanted to try them, and after wearing them outside just once, they were all asking for their own insulated overalls! Some of us have Schmidt and some have Carhartt, and both are great quality.

Coat for winter
A proper coat

Once I discovered how warm the insulated overalls were, I decided to try one of the Schmidt coats, and it is indeed much warmer than the Liz Claiborne jacket that I purchased on clearance at the mall. However, the Schmidt coat is so thick that when doubled with the overalls, I am not very flexible, so I don’t wear it unless I really need it. The other great thing about these coats is that they have hoods, which I really like because I don’t always realized I need something on my head until I’m outside doing chores, and I don’t want to come back inside to get a hat.

Wool Socks for winterWool socks

When someone finally convinced me to try wool socks, I was immediately sold on the idea, but the ones I bought at the mall only lasted one season, so when I saw that Schmidt and Carhartt sold them at the farm supply store, I decided to try one pair of each. I was immediately a fan! Carhartt

makes some that are thicker than Schmidt, but they are so thick that you might need a pair of boots that are half a size larger than normal so that you don’t cut off blood supply to your foot. Small price to pay, however, to keep your feet warm when the temperatures are down to zero. Since the two different brands have different thicknesses, I have several pairs of each and only wear the thickest ones on the coldest days.

Gloves

Of course, you need something to keep your hands warm. Unfortunately this is one area where I haven’t found any particular brand that I’m too excited about. Although the Schmidt gloves do keep my hands warmer, if my hands start to sweat at all, the inside of the gloves wind up wet, and they take a couple of days to dry. Of course, wet gloves are not warm, so that puts them out of commission for a couple of days.

Winter weather can be absolutely brutal for us humans on a farm, but if we’re wearing the warmest possible clothes, it can be more bearable.

How to care for your animals in winter

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28 thoughts on “5 things you need to survive winter”

  1. Great ideas! This is my first year on a farm and I have been wearing my snowboarding pants and boots. While they keep me warm, they are more expensive and less durable than the Carthart! Maybe next year I will get proper farm clothes! The best winter tip I got this year was to empty water troughs at night! After goats and chickens are housed for the night, I empty the outdoor troughs. In the morning, I add warm water. This way, I don't have to chop at ice in the morning, and the warm water lasts all day!

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    • I have learned from experience that I must have very thick insulated, absolutely waterproof gloves if I want to stand a chance of keeping my fingers from going numb. I give up nimbleness unfortunately, but given that I’m dealing with watering and cleanup, it’s a fair exchange. Anything that requires dexterity is done inside anyway, or at least under shelter, which eliminates the need for anything waterproof or heavily insulated.

      The biggest problem is with cracking fingers due to the wind/cold/rain combo. The ONLY way I can stop the cracking is to make sure I wear the correct gloves every single time. If I go one time without the right gloves I pay for it the rest of the winter.

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  2. get a boot/glove drier for the wet gloves! They are about $20-30 and work GREAT. I wouldn’t be without one. Gloves and wet boots/shoes dry overnight.

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  3. I have finally found the best hat to wear when doing outdoor chores on the farm. My hair tends to be a problem when wearing hats, they just don’t sit right, eventually falling off. This hat (or cap) has elastic around the edge, allowing it to sit securely on my head. The ponytail loop is a great addition since I typically where my hair secured this way. My goats love to taste parts of my clothing & my hair unless I have it tucked securely away. The other great thing is if I need additional protection I can pull my coat hood up over it, without wrestling my hat to stay on.

    https://www.amazon.com/Carhartt-Womens-101725-Gretna-Camo/dp/B011J134GA

    Also available in black with grey trim.

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  4. Have all the gear you mentioned, BUT one difference, my Schmidt gloves I purchased four pairs at a time, so when one pair is wet and drying, I can grab a second, or if I wear holes in them, I have the others to take care of me.

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  5. I also have a headlamp around my neck, when needed it can be placed on my forehead for additional light for trimming hooves or looking into ears in a dark barn, or seeing ice on the ground!

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  6. Yes, up in Alaska we wear it all, but I have to use insulated bunny boots as the insulated XrtaTuf are not even enough for our winter temps. I use immersible water heaters all day long. And, seldom go anywhere without my head lamp! Happy New Year to all.

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  7. I have reynauds, so the Maine winters are especially brutal on my fingers and toes. I have tried electric socks and electric insoles in my boots. The socks didn’t work well. The insoles were expensive, but only worked for a year before they grew unreliable. Now I buy “Hot Hands” by the case. I stick one in the toe of each boot and I do great. On extra cold days I put ’em in my gloves too. They’re AWESOME!

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  8. Gloves are my problem. You find a pair that are warm, but that makes them bulky. I would like a pair that are also waterproof.
    I just haven’t found anything that works. How about anyone else?

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  9. We have been stocking up on all these supplies the last two years also!! Still could use some good boots though, but with extra wide feet, good boots have been a challenge. But for gloves – I have loved the neoprene gloves from tractor supply. They stay fairly warm and a little bit of water doesn’t hurt. They also seem to breath well. They ma still not be the best for zero degree temps but they work well enough for us 🙂 and when mine do get wet I stick them on the radiator and have one pair for back up. Hope this helps someone!! https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/carhartt-mens-thermal-full-coverage-glove

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  10. I’m a rural mail carrier and want to share a tip for cold hands. Wear a pair of surgical gloves under your normal pair. It sure helps with the cold and doesn’t add bulk.

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  11. I live in Minnesota. To keep this short. Thru many below zero days. I have found Boggs to keep my feet warm. I am older and my feet sweat. They keep my feet dry and extremely warm. It was 40 below with wind chill of 50 plus below. Very windy. I was wearing Carharts black extreme cold weather bibs and extreme parka. Had a face mask on my face and a dickie around my neck. I was so warm I had to unzip my parka to keep from sweating. No and I say no wind came thru. I am older and get cold very easy with low blood distribution. I will never choose anything else for cold weather. Looked a long time to find anything to keep me warm and cozy. Carharts for socks didn’t need thick ones. Gloves still looking otherwise in below zero Carharts extreme only way to go. Look like the Men in black

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  12. I but the inexpensive insulated leather work gloves at the hardware store and treat them with mink oil. I rub the mink oil on them randomly, maybe once a week. This makes them water resistant, not waterproof. These gloves won’t work in extreme cold.

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  13. Finding the right gloves has been the biggest challenge for me. I need something that keeps my hands, especially the fingers, warm while at the same time allowing agility for handling latches and lead ropes and things. Usually I find that lined leather gloves are the best but again they might not offer the agility that I need. Most recently I’ve been wearing a pair of unlined lambskin leather gloves (Tractor Supply) that offer agility (and more warmth than other fabrics ) and then when I don’t need as much finger agility I slip my gloved hand into a larger pair of leather gloves that belong to my husband. Now the finger stay especially warm for tasks that don’t require agility. Then I can slip off the outer leather gloves and use my hands to work in the barn which is not nearly as cold as outside. I hope this has helped someone else. I’m still on the lookout for the best pair of gloves. I checked out L.L. Bean lambskin insulated gloves but guess what they’re out of stock. They say they’re usually out of stock by Christmas of all things. Which is disappointing considering that some of us still have winter after Christmas and it’s not just a gift; warm gloves are a necessity.

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  14. Staying warm here in Southwest Ohio is on my mind now that we’ve had some single-digit temperatures. I find the Ariat leather boots with Darn Tough wool socks to usually be sufficient for barn work, but, indeed, when it is wet or there is deep snow I wear my rain boots or muck boots also with those darn tough brand wool socks. I find the Carhart jackets to be thick and inflexible therefore I wear Several layers of clothing including silk long underwear, a turtleneck shirt and a sweatshirt under a lighter weight, rain resistant jacket, with a hood, that is lined with fleece that offers flexibility. In addition I wear an acrylic & cotton stretchy knit hat under the hood.
    The neoprene gloves from tractor supply are good except when it gets extremely cold then I prefer to have the leather gloves on, preferably lined ones, or as I mentioned before two pair – one that fits my hands and one larger pair of my husbands that I can put my gloved hand in.
    The idea of surgical gloves as an inner lining for your regular gloves sounds good. I think I’ll try that.
    Thanks for the great ideas and the opportunity to share.

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  15. Sorry to take up so much room on your blog, but it occurred to me I didn’t mention the kind of pants I wear. Over the silk long underwear (L.L. Bean), I wear lined pants made by Northeast Outfitters – which I’m pretty sure I bought from L.L. Bean many years ago. They are not heavy and stiff like bluejeans or coveralls but seem to be warm enough.
    Of course I remove a few layers when I come back into the house but I generally keep my long silk underwear on as we do not overheat the house. they are so light weight that you forget you have them on.
    Thanks for listening. And thanks for all your great suggestions.

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  16. Has anyone ever tried the electric heated gloves that are battery operated? My main interest is trying to keep my fingers warm and no I do not have Raynauds, or any kind of a disease, but nonetheless, fingers do get extremely cold.

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  17. I love your advice on all kinds of topics, Deborah. When it comes to cold weather, I can’t match those folks who deal with really bone-chilling temps, but I can say I’ve been taking care of critters in the Midwestern winters, often with double-digits below zero and brutal wind chills for over half a century. I have learned a few things. Layers of clothing have worked well for me. There’s nothing like getting all dressed in warm clothes and working so hard you realize you’re sweating. You want to be able to take enough off to prevent getting wet with sweat and still be warm. It helps to be able to move easily because emergencies are always just waiting to surprise you. I’ve never been able to wear the heavy canvas-type outer-wear, but it’s even more difficult now that I’m in my 70’s, so find what works for you. Good boots with good traction can prevent good ol’ gravity from taking you down. You don’t want to be lying on the cold ground with no way to get up. If you do chores by yourself and no one is likely to find you until you’re frozen solid, make sure you’re carrying your cell phone. You don’t have to be very far from someone else to be really alone. Frankly, that advice is good in warm weather, too.

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    • That’s a really great suggestion to always have your phone on you! I was in the middle of chores about six years ago when my back went out. I had to call a friend to come rescue me and get me back to the house and finish my chores for me. My house and barn are only about 100 feet apart, but I could not take a single step without screaming in pain, so she got me in her car and drove that short distance.

      Reply

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