What do farmers do in winter?

A lot of my friends think that my winters are like vacation time because I don't have any livestock over winter. The pace is more relaxed, but winters are more like having a desk job than being on vacation. Some of the things I've been up to:

  • Accounting: catching up on entries for the last year and re-structuring the system to manage things better.
  • Continuing Education: Winter is the best time for farmers' availability so most workshops, conferences and seminars occur now. I missed the big conferences this year but took a course on holistic management, attended Grey-Bruce Farmers' Week Eco-day (for us weirdos who don't want to spray if we don't see a problem), and workshops of woodlot management and soil microbiology. A woodlot conference and a forestry workshop are also scheduled.
  • Website Development: I've put up few new posts or pages despite the best of intentions, but it took a while to figure out how to backup the site before I could upgrade everything to the latest version. I have designed a structure, but still need to implement it and populate it with content. An RSS feed so you can conveniently subscribe to our latest news is also in the works.
  • Strategic Review: After two years on the farm I have a better understanding of the land and my capabilities as a farmer. I've been exploring raising beef cattle and pigs, but each of these includes analyses of the minimum infrastructure required to get started, how big an operation I could manage and its infrastructure and profitability, as well as related decisions on making or buying infrastructure, keeping a herd versus buying in for a season, and impacts on my organic certification.
  • Planning: I'm behind on vegetable planning for this year, but I'll sow the first seedlings this week. The farmers' co-op finalize their "chick days" schedule and prices around Valentine's Day so I'll be picking that up next time I'm in town and scheduling the meat bird slaughter dates before I place the order for chicks (our processor only does certified organic runs on Monday mornings so I have 20% of the dates available).

Of course, I can do all of this (except the continuing ed) in my pyjamas with our bouvier Beauregard keeping my feet warm, so it is still a pretty good life.

For another farmer's take on winter, see Fertile Ground's post.

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