Row of cows at farm in Shropshire

Weathering the storm. Country life in winter.

18/11/19Weathering the storm. Country life in winter.

The changing seasons affect the countryside much more than urban areas of the UK. If you live in the countryside, you need to do a certain amount of preparation for winter. If you are a property or estate manager, or have property in a rural area, then it’s worth taking some time to assess that condition of your estate and its assets, to ensure you have safeguarded against the harsh winter months.

Drive safe and be prepared

Working in the countryside, you’ll know that the weather makes a huge difference to getting around. Be prepared with what you carry with you in your vehicle, whatever your mode of transport. Country vehicles such as Land Rovers and 4x4s are obviously better suited to country roads, some of which can become quite challenging in the winter months – particularly in some of our more remote farming areas where roads may only be single-track lanes. Carry some essential supplies on board, such as a blanket or a sleeping bag, or perhaps a shovel, useful if you get stuck in the snow. Make sure you have some de-icer and antifreeze in your vehicles, and be mindful that the days are a lot shorter if you’re travelling long distances in the late afternoon and early evening.  

Seasonal challenges

During the winter, it’s important to make sure any routine work that needs carrying out on properties is done before the bad weather sets in. Maintenance of property – be it habitable, empty or used for storage – should be looked at, to make sure any problems that have arisen during the year don’t worsen over winter. Dampness or peeling paintwork can signify underlying problems that may need to be addressed, and roofs should be checked for leaks. Outbuildings are traditionally not as maintained as habitable accommodation, but during the winter if they are being used to store livestock or machinery, they will need to be checked to ensure the safety and security of anything inside. Owners should also pay special attention to habitable properties that will remain empty over the winter, with at the very least adequate heating maintaining a temperate atmosphere to eradicate dampness.    

Take stock of the essentials

In many of our more remote areas, it’s essential to stock up on day-to-day supplies – these can include such things as fuel, for central heating or open fires. Some properties will be operating on a septic tank and that too will need emptying periodically. Land and livestock management becomes more complicated over the winter, with the need to get out and feed livestock made more challenging by the weather conditions. Ice and especially flooding can cause considerable problems when traversing fields, which can become boggy and impassable.

Think carefully about what checks need to be done before winter and makes lists of things that may need addressing – before the weather chill puts paid to all your efforts earlier in the year.

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