From having a flexible grazing plan to winterizing equipment, it pays to plan and prepare for the cold winter days and weeks ahead (originally published in Noble Rancher).
Whether winter comes and stays for six months in your area, or it randomly slams your typically mild climate with six days of sleet and ice, it pays to be ready for the season.
Noble Research Institute ranch manager Paul Luna and grazing team facilitator Devlon Ford share their top tips to help keep your animals healthy and your regenerative ranch running smoothly, no matter what winter throws at you.
1. Study hyper-local and larger weather patterns
As a facilitator of Noble’s Essentials of Regenerative Grazing course, Ford says every good decision starts with knowing your context well.
You probably know an old-timer who can forecast the whims and ways of the land and the weather he’s observed for a lifetime. Only time and experience can teach some lessons. Still, if you’re new to a region, just picked up a lease or a section of new land, or are in the early years of your ranching career, start observing and studying your context.
Study how your local topography and geography are affected by weather events. Does the harshest cold come from the west, or from the north? Why? Are there certain ravines that pack in with snow and others that blow clear and might provide shelter in a storm? Have weather events like flood or drought in the preceding spring and summer affected how winter moisture or snow is going to flow, blow or pack in this winter?
Then, zoom out of the hyper-local knowledge and study larger weather patterns for long-term planning, too.