Easy-Does-It Snow Removal

Snow removal doesn't have to cost oodles and take time away from horses and family

Waking up to a magnificent mantle of snow isn’t so magical when you have a barn full of hungry horses several hundred feet away. Slogging through six inches of snow might be standard duty for you, but when the snow fills your regular pathways several feet deep, you need more than snow boots to get through. Unfortunately, when the snow stops blowing, that’s when the dollars can start flying. So dig in here to explore some great ways to dig out.

Snow Equipment Ideas
Team up to hire a plow. Investigate teaming up with your neighbors to contract with someone to dig all of you out at once after a dump. The group discount can be substantial, and time saved having someone else plow can be well used for other tasks on a snowy day.

Use your tractor bucket. Most horse operations have a tractor-usually with a front-end bucket loader. Keeping your tractor primed for winter use can provide you with a practically free snowplow. Just resist the temptation to turn the bucket over and push the snow. The cylinders that curl the bucket aren’t designed to work in that position, and you could end up spending more on tractor repairs than you save by plowing yourself.

Add a blade. While a tractor bucket works pretty well, a snow blade works well too. Add a blade to your truck or tractor, giving you more options when it comes to purchase price. Truck blades are fairly specifically used for snow removal. Grader blades, which attach to the back of the tractor, are made for smoothing out bumpy surfaces, but they can also make quick work of removing snow. In a light snow, you can pull the blade along without the snow bunching up under the tractor’s rear tires. Most grader blades also can be swung around so you can push instead of pull them while driving the tractor in reverse. Graders usually attach to a three-point hitch on the back, but if your tractor doesn’t have one, there are stationary graders that clamp on the lip of a loader. Whichever you use, be sure the blade has “skid feet” along the lower edge to keep it from gouging holes in your lawn, arena, or driveway.

Use your garden tractor. Even if you only have one horse on a solitary acre, you probably have a lawn/garden tractor. Small, hand-operated snowplows are available for many brands of garden tractors-including some zero-turn mowers. They even make them for four-wheel ATVs. Check with the dealer where you bought your tractor or ATV to see what fits your model.

To get an idea of what these snow movers look like, how they operate, and how much they cost, check some of them out online at www.northerntool.com.

Snow Blowing Ideas
A snow blower is always a great way to make quick work of snow removal, but it can be pricey. For zero dollars, you could use a snow shovel and some sweat equity to carve out little “bunny trails” to get you from the house to the barn, to the water hydrant, etc. But if you live where it snows often and deeply, a snow blower could be a worthwhile investment. While the initial monetary outlay can be heavy (prices for two-stage gas snow blowers range from about $600 to $2,100), they can make quick work of clearing paths and areas around water sources and where hay is laid for pastured animals.

Snow Diversion Ideas
If you live where snow rips across open fields and fills in your lane and arena, you could save time and money by putting up an old-fashioned snow fence. It takes some pre-planning, but the results can be pretty dramatic. A correctly constructed and properly placed snow fence is one of the least expensive ways to keep snow from accumulating where you don’t want it. Snow fences work by interrupting the flow of wind. When the wind slows down, the snow it’s carrying drops out and settles to the ground. Put one up right and the snow will pile up out there in the cornfield instead of in your barnyard.

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