Stay Warm when Working on the Farm

Working outside on the farm is all fine and dandy when the sun's beating on the back of your neck and you can peel down to a t-shirt, throw on a cowboy hat, and go about your business. But the winter's a whole different story. Stay warm on the farm when it gets to those temperatures where you feel like your fingers are going to fall off!


  1. Get a warm hat. It feels colder if you don't cover your head because the head and facial area is more sensitive to temperature changes than the rest of the body.[1] The first thing you should do is find a snug, thick hat.
  2. Cover your ears and neck. Thick earmuffs aren't a good idea, not only because they make it especially difficult to listen, but also because they attract the attention of curious and hungry goats and horses. Wear a headband under your hat or, better yet, buy a choker or neck warmer that wraps around your neck and can be lifted to cover your ears as well. This is much better than a scarf, the longer parts of which can get caught on fences or in farm machinery.
  3. Get tight, waterproof gloves with grippers. Big, bulky ski gloves might keep your hands warm, but if you end up taking them off every 15 minutes so that you can open or close gates, or hook a lead on a halter, or cut string, then the gloves are practically useless. Instead, get gloves made of something like neoprene, which is what slick scuba diving suits are made of. Even if they aren't as warm, if you can keep them on continuously, you're much better off. If your hands do get cold, the best way to warm them is to rotate your arms one at a time as fast and hard as you can. You will immediately feel the blood warming your fingers.
    • If you can find the little packets of disposable hand warmers often sold in dollar stores, stock up on them.[2] Add these to your coat pockets each time you go out and use these when your hands need warming up quickly. Just be sure to replace them after each use, as they only last for the time that they're activated.
  4. Wear silk underwear – not the lingerie kind! Silk underpants and undershirts make an excellent base layer. Wear long underwear. After you put those on, throw on a Look Good in a White T Shirt and jeans, then a sweatshirt, then your coat. Alternatively, invest in coveralls. Farmers and many others who work outside always have coveralls.
    • Fine merino wool thermals are another good buy. The technology for using wool in underwear has improved massively in recent years, so they're not itchy unless you're hyper-sensitive.
  5. Invest in a pair of knee-high farm boots and wear them with warm socks. They might be expensive, but they'll be comfortable and warm. Consider getting rubber boots that will keep your feet dry, as opposed to boots with laces (bits of snow get lodged in the laces and melt into the boot, even if the company claims it's waterproof). Likewise, they'll be much easier to clean – you just rinse them off at the end of the day and leave the mud at work. Finally, wearing boots that reach up to your knees will add another layer of warmth to your legs. An added bonus is that many farm boots have steel toes which will protect your feet in case something falls on them.
  6. Tuck in your shirt, and anything else that can be tucked. Cold drafts are thieves of body heat and soon leave you feeling very uncomfortable. When you go to lift something, and you expose even a tiny bit of your mid-section to the elements, you're just asking for chills. So, tuck your shirt into your pants, your pants into your boots, and your sleeves into your gloves.
  7. Keep moving. The first fifteen minutes will kill, but once you're up and about, you'll start generating body heat as long as you stay active. Avoid the temptation to stand around; jog in place if you have to. Also, stay outside. Believe it or not, the shock of repeatedly moving from a warm, heated indoor environment to the cold outdoors is worse than if you just stay outside. That's not to say that you shouldn't come inside for lunch, or bathroom breaks; but don't think that stepping inside for just 10 minutes will actually help things.
  8. Wear dark colors. They absorb the sun's heat much better (and they won't stain as easily).
  9. Breathe through your nose. When cold air travels into your body through your nostrils, your body warms it up before it reaches your lungs. But when you breathe through your mouth, it's like sticking an icicle in your chest.
  10. Eat your heart out. Your body burns a lot of calories trying to stay warm (in addition to supporting your physical activity). Eat warm, healthy meals and drink warm beverages.
  11. Stay warm!


  • Avoid licking your lips, or they will chap quickly.
  • If your hands start to feel numb, hold them to your neck or underarms.
  • Get plenty of sleep. You'll feel much colder if you're sick or tired.
  • Always have a tissue or paper towel with you to handle that perpetually runny nose.
  • If you live in the Midwest, summers will be very warm and winters very cold so be prepared for both ends of the spectrum.


  • Make sure everything is tight and snug to reduce the risk of getting your clothes caught in machinery, which can lead to serious injury and even death.

Things You'll Need

  • Warm clothing
  • Hand warmers (optional)
  • Warm hat
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Silk thermals
  • Hearty food

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Sources and Citations