Keeping Humans, Pets, and the Flock Warm Through the Cold and Snowy Season – Part 2
If you’re going to spend time outdoors (or even indoors!) in the winter, proper clothing and equipment is the key to making it more enjoyable for the whole family! For me, enjoying that fresh air makes winter far more tolerable. There are times when it’s cold, or during a big snowstorm, that we don’t venture out, but I can only take so many days of that before it’s not just our Lab mix Luke that gets restless and fidgety.
When we are stuck in the house, having the wood stove to snuggle in front of makes it so much cozier. I also love that our house has a lot of windows, and two sets of glass doors in our living room. I need all the light I can get too! We’ve been so excited lately since we’ve been noticing the days getting just a bit longer. It makes all the difference in the world.
We wanted to share a few things that make life in the northeast more enjoyable in the winter months. Once I started working on our lists, I realized it’s a lot! Therefore, we’ve split this into two parts: animals and humans. You can find Part 1 – Animals by clicking here. *Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. We may receive a small commission if you order through those links. Thank you!*
Finding the Right Clothing, Gear and Comforts for the Humans to Get Outdoors in the Cold & Snow
Whether it’s going for nice winter walks with our dog Luke, or taking care of the chickens and guinea hens, having the right clothing and gear is so important for comfort. It’s a lot of work getting ready to head out sometimes, and I often tell Luke he doesn’t know just how lucky he is to have fur and “four paw drive”. If I wasn’t comfortable out in the cold, we simply wouldn’t go! Having the proper quality clothing and gear is so key. I stress quality, because the truth is, I won’t be able to provide you with links to a lot of the specific gear I use. I’ve had some of it for so long, they probably don’t make those particular ones anymore! However, I will share the brand names with you and links to what I think is close to what I have when I can. I believe in these brands because they have lasted me so long, and because I’ve used them for so many winters, you know they work well!
Some days I feel like getting ready to go for walks takes longer than the actual walk! By the time I get both Luke and I suited up, I’m already tired! I wear what I think is best for the conditions outside and try not to make it anymore work than I must. So much of my gear also comes in handy for not just dog walks, but for doing my “farm chores” – taking care of the birds and the coop.
Down Coat – I would not be without one! I’ve had a few different ones. They don’t always last as long, because they can get holes in them (especially if you have dogs that like to jump on you, or chickens that like to land on your back when you’re bent over in the coop!). My hubby got me a real nice ski jacket one year, which was great, but it got too many holes and many of the feathers came out! So now I just look for a bargain. When Christmas shopping last year, I found a great deal on one at the Bass Outlet Store. I’ve been happy with it and have to say the down just seems to be warmer than other coats I have and having a hood on it is important for days when it’s snowing out!
Depending on the temperatures and the depth of the snow, I am always wearing either my fleece-lined jeans from LL Bean (they come in either flannel or fleece-lined, both are awesomely warm), or my snowsuit, also by LL Bean (they don’t seem to make the snowsuits for adults anymore, but these snow pants look comparable). If you are an outdoorsy person living in New England, you probably own a lot of products made by that company! They can be pricey, but the quality is impeccable, it’s guaranteed for a year, and they often have sales. If you can buy stuff at the end of a season to save for the next one, you can get some good deals. I also have their credit card, so I get points (“Bean Bucks”), whenever I use that card.
They also made my favorite cap for snowy days, or days that aren’t quite as cold. It’s like a baseball cap with ear flaps (and probably the only piece of winter gear I have that looks cute on me, not dorky). The style is perfect for keeping the snow off my glasses, and it also keeps my head quite warm. Unfortunately, I don’t think they make this anymore, but I did find a similar one* on amazon that looks even nicer. I also have a wool cap from Turtle Fur*. My only problem with caps like that is that they tend to slide up off my ears, and that’s where I need warmth the most! If my ears get cold, I end up with a headache. So, I’ve taken to wearing a sweatshirt hoodie under my down jacket and putting the hood up to hold the hat on. It works great!
Good gloves have been a little more challenging to find. It’s a balance between keeping my hands warm and being able to do anything at all with my hands! My hubby has gotten me ski gloves which are great but are bulky and not my preference. However, when it’s cold enough out those are the ones I go with. They are made by Reusch* and look like mittens, though they have the individual finger holes inside like gloves.
When I was Christmas shopping, I tried to find some less bulky gloves. I wanted some rated for very cold temperatures, yet I didn’t want to spend a fortune. I ended up with ones made by Spyder*, but my hands still get cold when the temperatures really drop. They’re better for days when it’s closer to the freezing mark, not way below. One thing you learn with exercising out in the cold is that the more you get moving, the more your blood pumps, and that does warm up your extremities. So if I know our walk is going to be strenuous (in fresh snow) then I still stick with the Spyder gloves.
Footwear is so important too! Here’s where quality comes into play. I’ve had the same snow boots from Sorel* for YEARS. They have an inner liner that keeps my feet warm, and they are completely waterproof which is also key. These are knee high boots and work great in the deep snow. They are the ones I always wear with my snowshoes.
When the snow isn’t deep, however, I prefer my snow sneakers from LL Bean. They have good treads, are very warm, and they are lightweight and comfortable. I have two pairs of these, one ankle height and one calf height. I wear the higher ones for walking and working around the farm, and the others I wear when I go out shopping and running errands. They are comfortable for a lot of walking. I also wear these for walking and doing farm chores when the yard is icy. I add YakTraks to the bottoms to get traction on the ice, and they work great. I’d had the same YakTraks for a while now, but on occasion they would come off and I’d lose one in the snow. I recently upgraded to these*, which have a strap that goes over the top of the boot to hold them on. So far, they are working great!
We also can’t forget the socks! I used to be resistant to wool socks because wool often makes me itch. But I’ve found socks made with Merino wool don’t bother me, my favorites are from Darn Tough*. These Made in Vermont socks are seamless, the wool is moisture wicking and antimicrobial, and they have an unconditional lifetime guarantee. They are lightweight and breathable yet keep my feet quite warm. Also, I have small feet, and it’s sometimes difficult for me to find socks that fit right. Their size small is perfect for me!
Last but not least, when the snow is deep, I couldn’t be without my snow shoes. While it can still be difficult walking on them depending on the consistency of the snow, they are a big help to keep from sinking all the way down. You read last week that Luke wishes he could wear some at times! Again, I’ve had the pair seen above, made by Atlas for Cabela’s, for years now. They are very well made, and easy to get on and off.
Another thing that helps in the snow is to have trekking poles! These are similar to ski poles and are best if they are telescoping, to adjust to the depth of the snow, and also have snow baskets on the ends. I used to take two, but when you have a dog leash in one hand it’s sometimes easier to just have one. They are a very big help to keep you upright or when you fall down (snowshoes can be awkward sometimes and it happens!). They give you the leverage needed to get back up more easily. After all, Luke isn’t going to help me, unless licking my face is his version of “helping”.
One last note about surviving winter on the farm. While the Dadz has mostly the same warm clothing and gear that I do, he has one other thing that makes winter so much better for him: a four-wheeler with a plow on it. While many people around here have a big truck to do their own plowing, that can be expensive! We used to have a snow blower, and he hated it. Once he got the four-wheeler with the plow, he now enjoys going out and doing snow removal! He also has the tractor with a bucket when he really needs to move snowbanks back before a big storm. I love that he has both of those things, since he almost never complains about having to go outside and clean up the yard!
We hope you enjoyed our little series about surviving winter here on the farm; and perhaps found some hints to help yourselves and your pets to get through your own cold weather! While we’re happy to have January already behind us, February and March can be brutal here as well. Since we never seem to know what Mother Nature is going to throw at us next, we need to be prepared for anything and everything!
Is it cold where you live? What is your favorite way to stay warm?