The latest cold snap really had me admiring the dedication of our farmers, especially those with animals. So, I asked Laura Morgan, our resident chicken lady from Sweet Wind Farm, her take on winters on the farm.
When Heidi asked me to write the blog this month on what farmers do in the winter, many thoughts raced through my mind… the good, the bad, and the ugly.
On my farm, winter is very different from summer in many respects, and yet, remarkably the same in others. Winter affords a little more time than summer for things like self-care, daydreaming, organizing, evaluating successes and failures, church, hobbies, social time, special projects, community service, creativity, and travel. Did I mention sleeping? It’s a time for reflecting on the blessings of the outgoing season, shaking off the exhaustion and inevitable failures of that last season and optimistically dreaming of and preparing for the next. It’s a time for… well, time.
Then there’s the bad and the ugly… There are stretches of winter that feel like one battle after another after another. While fighting inclement weather, power outages, illness, cash shortages, and travel difficulties, all livestock remaining after the Fall harvest must continue to be fed, watered, protected from weather, and monitored for signs of exposure or illness. One power outage can result in the loss of an incubator full of eggs once destined to be next years’ chicks, so we start over, a month behind now.
There is no “calling off”. If we don’t do our jobs diligently every day, something dies. That’s a fact. It’s an awesome honor and tremendous responsibility to be stewards of the land and livestock. Freezing temps equals frozen livestock waterers, frozen well pumps, gates frozen closed, tractor won’t start, and frozen fingers and toes. It means thawing dirty waterers in the house, lugging 5gallon buckets of water from the creek without falling in or slipping on the ice, hand carrying 50lb bags of feed all over the farm when the tractor won’t start, and braving dangerous roads that are better avoided, because when you need feed, you need feed. Period. Gotta make it happen.
So, all in all, I guess winter is about renewal: renewal of the spirit, body, and mind.
Stay safe, stay warm, and remember your farmers.