Winter Preparations for Summer Bounty

Posted on Dec 28, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

It’s sort of a given that farmers can’t really harvest in the winter unless they have a facility that can grow indoors, and even then it’s a tricky season. Have you ever wondered what we do during the cold season to prepare for a successful and bountiful crop at next harvest?

This list includes quite a few examples, but keep in mind that it’s not all-inclusive.

Livestock still needs to be tended

It’s true that crop work all but stops in the winter, but animals don’t take seasonal breaks and still need constant care. For those of us who raise animals on our farms, the winter can actually add to our workload in some ways:
Technology and equipment used to support the animals’ well-being (like heaters, milking machines for dairy farmers, etc.) tends to need extra attention in the winter due to the accumulation of frost, ice, and snow.
Pens, fences, and yards need to be carefully monitored and maintained to ensure that the animals have a safe, clean, and healthy space to occupy.
Animals, too, need extra attention in the winter, as they can suffer from frostbite or other injuries if the winter is particularly harsh or they’re not adequately tended.

Baling and Silage

All of that leftover crop that we don’t use for human food can be saved as hay for overwinter feed. The dried material that can be baled is processed into compact bales and then stored appropriately to protect it from the elements.

Farmers often enrich their dry winter feed with silage. Silage is a chopped and fermented mixture of undried grasses and other still-wet grains which have been processed and stored to maintain their nutrients. Sounds delicious, right? The animals sure think so.

If you’re interested in learning more about silage, hay, and haylage, check out this farmer’s explanation!

Clean and service our equipment

As soon as harvest is over, we thoroughly care for our equipment to protect it from falling into disrepair. Well-maintained tools will take care of us much better than ones left to sit in the winter while still covered in dust, grime, and grease. This also includes doing a technology check-up on many pieces of equipment – many farmers have fairly technologically advanced machines, and the operating systems in them have to be properly cared-for much like the one on your computer.

Inventory and Inspections

Not all farmers do inventory in the winter – some do it in the very early spring while they’re preparing for the ground to be ready for planting. Either way, taking stock of our supplies is best done before they’re needed, which means it’s work for the off-season. We need to be sure that anything we’re low on or that has been damaged is restocked in plenty of time for the next planting season.

Family time and R&R

Because we work hard, long hours during both planting and harvest seasons, we’re often ready for a break – and so are our families, who miss us during those times! I think I can speak for most farmers when I say that off-season rest, relaxation, family time, and fun are a priority.

Rest assured that once our prep work is done, we make it a point to spend some quality time with the ones we love! For all of this work, winter is still a wonderful time, and we look forward to enjoying it each year.

We are looking forward to a magical end to the holiday season, and a great beginning to 2018. From all of us here at Heartland Fresh Family Farms, we wish you health, happiness, and plenty of fun times and memories shared with loved ones.

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