Running your own farm, even as a hobby, means being ready to deal with emergencies that can crop up at anytime. Whether it's a bad storm rolling in to threaten your cash crop or an unexpected arrival of newborn baby goats, keeping a few durable vinyl tarps on hand is the best way to stay prepared. Spend less time stressing over these five common farm problems by whipping out a large tarp and wrapping up the issue.
Temporary Livestock Shelter
You've turned your horses, goats, or llamas out on a far pasture for summer grazing but the intense sun exposure is threatening to overheat them. Pop up a quick field shelter by combining wire cattle panels, a tarp, and some rebar or metal fence posts to hold it up. Hammer the stakes into the ground and wire the panels on to make sides, then hang the tarp over the top and use rope to secure it to the side panels.
If you've got taller livestock that needs more height, you can bend the cattle panels into arches for a vaulted roof. Bind the panels together with baling wire and use the same posts or stakes to support the sides. Drape the tarp over the arch to keep the sun and rain off, and consider using an over-sized vinyl sheet running down to the ground to close off at least one end to keep wind from blowing in.
Crop Frost Protection
There are dozens of lightweight spun fabric crop covers that sit right on the most delicate seedlings to protect them from late or early frosts. However, it's not always possible to run out and buy hundreds of feet of this cover when it's already night time when the frost warning comes in. With some stakes, or even sharpened sticks, driven along the row edges to hold the material above the plants, you can provide cover with whatever tarps you already have on hand.
Protecting Hay and Feed
Ordering hundreds of dollars worth of chicken pellets or quality orchard hay means a lot of unloading by hand, especially if you don't have a silo or hay barn that can accommodate a delivery truck. Stacking the bales or bags in your driveway leaves your feed investment at risk for getting moldy and ruined when a quick rain shower suddenly blows in. Grab a tarp and keep it nearby so you can quickly toss it over your hay and feed in the middle of the unloading process. Consider putting another tarp on the ground underneath the stuff you're unloading to prevent a mess that attracts raccoons if a feed bag splits open.
Blocking Wind and Rain
Providing shelter from wind and rain may be the main use for tarps, but there are dozens of situations that call for just that around the farm. Hanging a tough tarp can quickly prevent problems like:
- Moisture rusting your tractor or other field equipment during the off-season
- Leaks in a barn or chicken coop roof making a mess of your carefully cultivated litter
- Crops and grains being blown out of a harvester bin while you're waiting to process them
Normally, you need to dry hay completely before storing it, or you risk mold development that can kill your livestock. But, silage is a feed made from wet pasture trimmings that ferment carefully under cover to create a nutritious and long-lasting feed you don't have to buy from the mill. If you've got an extra pile of pasture cuttings you didn't plan to produce, a basic vinyl tarp can start the process until you can order more of the thinner polyethylene cover traditionally used for this process.
With these uses in mind, you may want to contact a local tarp supplier or visit http://billboardtarps.com/ to learn more about getting some tarps to keep on your farm.