Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Winter Farming

Mid-winter at the farm is a very different pace than any other season.  There is still plenty of work to be done but much of the urgency of Spring, Summer, and Fall is absent and some days lead to a blissful complacency that makes it hard to get anything done on these short and often cold days.  It is easy to start wandering the fields and greenhouses and realize that I've "wasted" and hour.  Those wasted hours are important times for the farmer to be introspective, to play with ideas and start planning how the farm will look, and think of new ideas for the coming seasons.

Apart from spying on the egrets and watching the cover crops grow, there still a lot to do in the winter.  Plans must be made!  I spend many hours working and re-working my crop planning spreadsheets to satisfy the needs of many people and trying to produce the right amount of so many different crops and varieties.  With 14 years of data and some pretty well developed tools it is easier than in the past, but there remains so many things beyond my control, a good or bad year could mean the difference in several tons of crop and demand can go up or down because of a trendy article or several new farms deciding to grow the same thing.  The crop planning requires lots of hair pulling and gnashing of teeth but it is far more fun than the mountains of taxes and agricultural and regulatory forms that seems to land in the first quarter of the year.

There are also many hours spent fixing and maintaining equipment.  It is often cold and dreary for this work, to make it a better time I catch up on NPR listening or enjoy some rock and roll.  This  year I'm making some improvement to the battery pack of my electric Allis Chalmer's G tractor (I'll post about that later), and doing some important maintenance on the diesel tractor and several implements.