It becomes clearer to me each time I try to answer the question "So, what do you do on the farm during the winter?" that I must do an inadequate job of answering.
Well, for one, I am sure I never quite make it clear that there is plenty to do and that we don't sit on our hands all winter.
For two, I am often asked the question by the same people - so I must have failed in try number one.
For three, I feel like I'm giving a generic answer - maybe because I'm never sure how much the person asking the question really wants to know. In a sense, this question is akin to "How are you?" The person asking probably doesn't really want to hear a complete and thorough run down....
But, here is a glimpse at what has been going on at the farm the last few days in preparation for the first big winter storm of the season:
Issue Number 1: Wind
For those who don't know - the wind can be a bit more brutal in the country than 'in town.' As a result, we find ourselves looking to move things to locations where they don't disappear over the winter. It's one thing if the wind moves something around in the spring or fall. We're outside ALOT more so notice these things. We also know that there are places in our outbuildings where the wind can reach in and 'grab' things. So, we move things away from those locations.
Issue Number 2: Cold
Any plants or produce must come into the house proper. Roots such as cannas also need to come in. We've had a few things hanging on in the garage up to this point, but it all must move in now. But, don't forget things like paints, glues, batteries, potting soil etc. The house is now a bit cluttered and messy until we get everything settled into some semblance of organization. While we are at it, the cold freezes the chickens water and we have to do something to help them get through it. So, changes are made to their living area that involve heat lamps, water heaters and covers on open windows/doors.
Issue Number 3: Snow
We've learned from prior work that things migrate ALL OVER the farm during the growing season. If left outside, we run the risk of forgetting them and being unable to find them again. Worse yet, we DO find them again with equipment such as a mower or tiller. So, these things need to get under shelter. But, even things like our cages (used to protect lettuce, etc) need to be moved somewhere. We learned last winter that they will sink into the muck under the weight of snow - requiring repairs to nearly all of them. They are on ground that is much more solid this year. OH - and I suppose we should put the snowblower attachment on one of the tractors. After the tiller is removed...
Issue Number 4: Critters
Deer like to beat on trees (especially apples). These all need some sort of fencing protection. And, our remaining seed inventory needs to come in and be protected as well.
Issue Number 5: Frozen Ground
Anything that was left to be done with planting or prepping for winter with respect to crops had to be dealt with. The garlic got a nice hay mulch placed over them. A few rows of lettuce, kale and arugula were identified and covered with low tunnels. The grafted apple trees in pots were sunk into the ground. Remaining root crops were dug. And, stakes were pounded into the ground as needed.
Now that it has snowed, everything will change on the farm to do list. We'll report on that one later.