PHOTO: Daniel Johnson
December 11, 2018

During the summer, it’s easy to find room to park your farm equipment, whether it’s a tractor, a hay baler, a trailer or something else. The ground is dry, you can drive anywhere, you can back a trailer right up against the barn door for unloading hay or supplies—it’s a convenience that would be easy to take for granted if it weren’t annually snatched away by the arrival of winter snowfall.

Having snow on the ground changes everything. Once snow gets deep enough and frozen enough, it becomes impractical or impossible to move things around with ease and nonchalance. That trailer you left parked by the garden in hopes of cleaning up a few more beds before winter? Once the snow builds up around it, you’ll just have shrug and admit that it’s probably stuck until spring.

I hope you’re on the ball with tucking away your machines and equipment for winter, but that raises an interesting question—where exactly should you park them? Ideally they should all be tucked away inside a building or under cover somewhere, but unless you have an abundance of garage bays or room in a spacious barn, some items will probably have to spend the winter outside or under a lean-to. Once the snow piles up, it will be difficult to access them until spring.

That’s why, when putting away your equipment, it’s worth considering when you might need to use it again before you choose where to park it. Let me give you a real-life example. On my farm, one of the places where our equipment can be easily parked is on the north side of a stand of tall evergreen trees, which shade the area and slow down the melting of snow in the spring.

Because this area stays locked in a snow bank longer than sunnier spots on the farm, this would be a great spot for parking equipment we won’t need early in the spring—say, a hay rake. On the other hand, it’s not an ideal spot for my trusty red wagon, which receives heavy use during the spring, summer and fall. The red wagon doesn’t warrant a cozy home in a garage bay, but I like to have it free for use as soon as possible in the spring, which is why I’ve parked it in a sunny (but also more protected) area this winter, so I can put it back into service as soon as I can next year.

Another tip? Try to park equipment on high ground. Low areas are likely to gather meltwater in the spring, and that turns to mud, so even once the snow is gone, you’ll risk getting stuck or leaving huge ruts if you try to move heavy machinery before the ground dries out.

Here’s another reason to carefully consider where you park your equipment each fall: If you don’t make the time to put everything in its place before snowfall, you’re apt to wind up with—well—unattractive items scattered throughout the farm in unappealing places, spoiling your otherwise beautiful winter farmscapes.

Yes, I’m looking at you, my snowed-in-haywagon-full-of-tree-branches-and-debris!

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