Winter on the farm

Wednesday, January 17, 2024 1:54 PM

Winter months on the farm

If we’ve heard it once we’ve heard it a million times: “It must be nice to have the winter off” or “What will you do with all your free time over the winter?”  For real??  Please don’t say something like that to your local farmer.  Winter may be a little slower paced but it’s just as busy as during planting and harvest season.  

Some of what’s going on… First there’s the clean up.  Not just the buildings and equipment but also the fields.  We put most fields into a winter cover crop.  The cover crop helps put nutrients back into the soil so we can use less man made fertilizers.  The strawberry fields that were planted in late September get covered with a gauze type cover.  This not only helps protect the plants but also keeps the deer from helping themselves to tasty treats.

We then move on to fixing all the equipment that only got “band aided”.  There are also winter projects like greenhouse expansion.  This year we got another house under cover and the covering on another replaced.  If you stop in the store over the winter you might be surprised by fresh spinach, carrots or even strawberries!  

We take a seed inventory and evaluate what varieties we want to continue to grow or discontinue.  Our big seed order gets put in mid to late December.  I try not to look at the bottom line as it’s usually in the 5 to 6 digits.  And you thought your home garden seed cost a lot.  We also take inventory of what soil, trays, pots etc need to be ordered.  Again, cha-ching!  

That all leads into the numbers crunch.  There’s a lot involved to wrap up the bookkeeping to get all the year end reports together.  Theoretically it’s a good time to get my office organized and paperwork filed.  Pfft who likes doing that!?! (Seriously if you like doing that I’m willing to trade produce)

It’s not all work though.  We do get to enjoy the winter holidays with our family and friends.  This year was especially nice as our “farm family” spent Thanksgiving and Christmas day with us.  I also occasionally get off in the weeds doing ancestry research, putting together puzzles and snuggling with our sweet Luke.  As I get older it gets harder to motivate and get excited about the coming season.  It’s a good thing we’ve been doing this so long as much of what we do is almost like being on autopilot.  It also helps when friendly faces pop into the store to say Hi.  In the fashion of Tom Bodett’s famous line “I’m Mary West and we’ll leave the light on for you (or coffee pot)”

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