Windbreaks and a Give Away

This was last September. After this we had a beautiful fall… except that all my tomatoes froze.

Windbreaks are very important in our part of the country. We live on a bench where the wind can be relentless. Small buildings need to be anchored to the ground, or they blow away. Sometimes our house sounds like a wooden ship in high seas. Personally, I love it. Must be the Viking in me. My husband hates it.

Ranch animals spend the winters out in the open, and when the wind blows they take refuge behind a windbreak, be it natural or manmade. We have windbreaks in all of our pastures.

The picture below is of my horses and ponies during a January storm, taking advantage of the shelter.

They also enjoy the windbreak during the summer. I think of it as their bedroom.

It really is the new calves’ bedroom. When the weather turns, all the moms and babies bed down in the straw behind the windbreak and everyone is toasty warm.

But sometimes, the wind is too much. During our last storm, part of the calve pen windbreak went down. The railroad ties had deteriorated to the point that they broke off, which led to a full and rich Monday for my husband and me.

The first order of business is to assess damage. Yep. There’s a problem here.





Next we have to fetch new ties from the laydown yard, then use the auger to drill new holes. My job is to make sure the auger is straight and that it doesn’t wander while it’s going down.


After that, we take turns cleaning the dirt out of the hole. The auger only lifts out so much. The rest has to be removed by hand. If it’s dry, we have to pour water down the hole so that we can get a “grip” on the soil with the posthole digger.

Then the new tie is set in place. We use a level on two sides as we fill the hole and tamp in dirt to make sure it’s true. On a good day, we don’t have to go back to the house to get the level that we forgot.

After that, it’s a matter of re-attaching the boards to the new post, and then the windbreak is ready for another season of keeping the livestock safe and warm.


Do you want to know how happy I am that the windbreak blew down in August instead of February?

I’m having a give away today for a $15 Amazon gift card. To enter tell me about a your most recent unexpected repair. The winner, chosen by random drawing, will be announced on Saturday. Good luck everyone!

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Jeannie Watt raises cattle in Montana and loves all things western. When she's not writing, Jeannie enjoys sewing, making mosaic mirrors, riding her horses and buying hay. Lots and lots of hay.

71 thoughts on “Windbreaks and a Give Away”

  1. I loved reading this. The pictures are beautiful. I live in an apartment by my self. My grandkids come all the time? I have done quite a few toy repairs..? Does that count?

  2. Well, it’s been an expensive year. I won’t go into everything, but a few weeks ago, I was using my new washer and dryer and noticed a leak in the hot water heater. It’s 19. Time for a new one. Fortunately, the neighbor is a plumber and does work on the side. After he finished, my husband asked him to assess the sump pump because it’s also 19. Unbeknownst to us, it had suddenly stopped working. Neighbor replaced it, too.

    Let’s hope when they come to look at my dishwasher, the part is still under warranty.

  3. The hot water heater in a closet off the hall broke and saturated a six foot section of floor and carpet. The wood underneath the carpet warped. We had the hot water heater replaced at once, but the flooring is a little more complicated.

  4. I recently went home to visit family. Their kitchen faucet has been needing to be repaired or changed out for awhile. After I commented on it my mom and I went to the store and got a new faucet and then my dad talked me, my sister, and roommate through how to change it. We each took turns crawling under the sink to change it out. Now I have some plumbing experience under my belt I can use in the future.

  5. When I see those on my travels, Jeannie, I cross that area off my ‘go in the winter’ list. I went to college in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, off Lake Superior. Cured me of cold forever. Glad you are a good cow momma!

    • I bet that was cold! I’ve always kind of thrived in cold myself. Much prefer it to heat. I bet you experienced a bit of wind, too, being close to Lake Superior.

    • The most frustrating was an infestation of carpenter ants in the master bath. My husband and I drilled holes in the wall and used a foam from a do it yourself pest control supply store. The queen then had to be dug out from outside the house around the bathroom window. She must have been about a foot or more in the ground.

  6. Here it is usually either my car or my husband’s truck that needs repairs. Driving old cars seems like a good idea until you have to fix something that breaks. Another problem we discovered when I heard a critter in the attic. We never really figured out what it was, but we discovered a hole in the siding. We can’t afford to repair it right now, so my husband just put a piece of wood over the area to patch it until we have money for a real repair. I never heard the critter scratching again, so I guess it got out.

  7. My latest repair would have to be in the bathroom. I decided to paint it and that led to pulling up the toilet and sink vanity and putting down a new floor. It was a lot of work but I really enjoy the new flooring. Love the way it came out.

  8. I am thankful that we have natural windbreaks for our cattle and my horse (he refuses to go inside) – but our last repair was water related – as the metal pipes in our old house give away and replaced with plastic now! Thanks!

    • My horse would only go into the barn in the worst of storms. Horses do their thing, I guess. Metal pipes do have a shelf life. We had the same issue. Glad you got it taken care of.

  9. We have to repair or replace the garburator. This has been an ongoing problem and is extremely difficult to access. Not looking forward to this at all.

  10. There always seems to be something that breaks down or needs attention. If is isn’t the cooler than it is the furnace. So old and tricky.

  11. I am waiting for the fridge to cause trouble since it is very old. No repair but buy a new one for sure.

  12. I haven’t really had to “repair” anything, but I have had to fix the soffit and fascia, had to get some stucco repaired, and then had the house painted. Having to make these decisions on my own, and find the ones to do the work has been a real learning experience! Mom had always done most of this kind of thing, and at least she was here for me to ask and talk things over with, but since she’s passed, this has definitely been a year of a lot of “firsts” for me!

  13. Ours was when a rodent ate through our water line in our home in 19 different places on Christmas morning 10 years ago. My husband and son learned real fast how to repair the water line after calling the plumber twice at $300 each time.

  14. My piano had a broken hammer shank that I was able to repair on my own–had to drill the old shank and glue out of the hammer, and cut the new shank to match the length of the rest. But it turned out great!

  15. We have an automatic generator and my husband realize it wasn’t working in February or March, don’t remember for sure. We had the generator people come and repair it. Fortunately we didn’t need it at the time of the repair. The first week of August we had horrific storms go through and were without electricity for three days. Yah for our generator was working – so no lost food and the ac was working.

  16. I had no idea that you had to build wind breaks around your property.
    We had squirrels chew into our house’s facial boards in two places. We are having trouble finding any one to replace the fascia and soffits with aluminum or vinyl.
    Very frustrating with the squirrels starting to gather nuts for the winter.

    A roofing company just let us know they will try to fit us in before December at a cost of $ 6500 ! Yikes !

  17. Every day on a farm means repairs. Haha! We are in the midst of fixing a broken waterline to our barn for our horses. Lots of digging and piles of dirt everywhere. This was the fourth – and hopefully the last – time it has broken on us. Fun times!
    Glad you got your wind break fixed!

  18. I live way out in the country near hilly woods where when it rains all the water comes off the hills and into backyard and into basement. To flooding. To fix that we dug ditches in our yard to curb the water from going to the basement. We still get water but not as much.
    living in the country always means fixing something. We own 5 lots to take care of is a lot of work and fixing things just comes with it.
    Thanks to the ditches in our yard and widening of existing ditches we don’t get as much water basement
    Hope I Win

  19. Knock on wood , no big repairs done here at our house, only thing I have had to do and it ‘s not really repairing, but I ordered 2 storage shelves and I put them together, tomorrow I will be getting in a 6 plant stand which I will be putting together, Hmmm, hopefully I can put it together. 🙂

  20. We had a water leak that damaged our floors, so we had to get new carpet and hardwood throughout the house. It did end up being a nice upgrade though.

  21. Got to love our Northwestern winds and all the repairs they cause us. My husband and grandson just finished putting one of our barns back on the foundation. The southwest corner came off part way and took a lot of jacking and pushing to get it where it belongs. With a new piece of wood for the sill and new anchor bolts we’re hoping it doesn’t shift again. I definitely understand having to tie down small buildings (this one wasn’t small). We have had sheds we use for calves or feeder pigs blow over.

  22. A big repair we had to do not long ago was put in a new septic tank and lines in the back yard. It seemed like the whole back yard had to be dug up. I was so glad when all of the new stuff got covered back up and new grass grew back over it.

  23. Very interesting post. We just traveled I-80 from Northern California to Colorado Springs and back and noticed many windbreaks, particularly in Wyoming. We dodged a bullet on our latest unexpected repair I hope – the dishwasher presented an error message “not enough water” but after resetting and rinsing so far so good. Whew.

  24. My husband noticed the toilet in the laundry/bathroom appeared to have a bit of dirt around the base. It turned out to be a little water that had collected dust, etc. He took off the toilet to replace the beeswax seal and discovered a bigger problem, of course. He went under the house and discovered the damage to the sub-flooring was a bit more than expected. Luckily the leak was only a small drip, so the damage isn’t serious. When he went to replace the wax ring, he noticed the contractor had put the toilet over a double floor joist, so it drained out at an angle and the seal could not fit properly. Other than remodeling the bathroom and moving the toilet, there is no real way to fix it. So he used two wax rings, forcing one down the hole to hopefully seal it from any leaks. We will see.
    PS – I did draw up a plan for remodeling the room, but wax rings won out. Saved a few thousand dollars and a lot of work.

    Other than natural wind breaks (trees) planted to help shield a house, I had not heard of them being used this way. It certainly Is a great idea. What I am familiar with are snow fences which are for of cousins to the wind breaks. Thanks for the interesting post. I am glad for you that it did happen now instead of Jan. or Feb.

    • I’m glad you and your husband were able to figure out a solution, Patricia. I hope it holds! Isn’t it funny how a simple repair can blossom into so much more! I have snow fence, too. The drifts here are crazy.

  25. Well, for us it was just our hot water heater…it made a mess but it wasn’t too big a deal. Thankfully, it didn’t ruin anything and my husband could replace it himself!

  26. My latest repair was a tire on our truck and one on our trailer. We needed a round bale but couldn’t go get it until tires were fixed. Truck tire ended up needing to be purchased due to mesquite thorns and separation. So one new tire and one fixed tire but still couldn’t go get a round bale due to feed store closes early on a Saturday. So did next best thing and found round bales for sale and had them delivered, only we had to prepare the turn around area which had mesquite popping up. We didn’t want the gentleman to get thorns in his tires too. Farming is hard work.

    • Farming is hard, Carolyn. I’ve never had to deal with mesquite, but it sounds awful. We had smaller stickers called goat heads, but they only popped bike tires and ruined shoed. Mesquite sounds like goat heads on steroids. Glad you were able to get your bale.

  27. We had a flat tire on a recent car trip last month. Whatever punctured the tire was bad enough it couldn’t be repaired so we had to buy two new tires. That wasn’t a fun expense or repair to have but thank the Lord it could be done and happened near a town.

  28. We have had to replace several rotting boards on our front porch. My husband replaced the two or three that were really bad, but to rep!ace to whole thing is a bit beyond his time and energy level!

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