I stopped by a local restaurant the other night to pickup dinner. While I was waiting the manager asked “Are you farming this winter?” I responded, “Yes of course.” Manager, “What is there to do this time of year?”
It may be a slower time of year but there is ALWAYS something to do, contrary to popular belief.
Maintenance & Projects
Each tractor, swather, combine, semi-truck, sprayer and fertilizer buggy is gone through in detail. Changing oil, replacing belts, repairing temporary fixes from harvest and any other thing that may arise. We do this each winter to make sure our equipment is taken care of. Things break on the farm but poor maintenance shouldn’t be the reason.
This year we have a big project in the shop. Our three-wheeled fertilizer spreader/buggy is getting tracks! Why? Because we get stuck. Working on wet ground during spring fertilizing makes getting stuck a likely possibility. Our oversized tires help to prevent this but the tracks will increase surface area and hopefully stop this…
This will be the only three-wheeled machine of its kind in the Willamette Valley if all goes as planned.
Winter Field Work
There are a few sunny days or at least days that are not raining in the winter, so we must take advantage of them. On these precious few days we try to get a spot spraying crew in the fields. Spot spraying is a technique that selectively eliminates unwanted or rogue plant species that are detrimental to the crop. Without this practice seed purity could be compromised which affects its marketability.
We fight slugs. Typically we have mild winters which creates a prime environment for slugs to eat our crops. Some years are worse than others, but no matter the year we must be on the look out for them. Slugs know no boundaries, my friend Brenda has battles with them as well.
Fields are checked frequently for any other unpredicted issue and make sure nothing has been missed.
The family farm is a business. During harvest, you pay the bills but spend minimal time behind a desk. The winter is time to catch up on book work and finances, a not always fun but a necessary part of the business.
In a typical winter we are shipping grass seed. This requires tracking inventory, sending seed lab tests, invoicing companies and receiving payments.
This year we have a new software program to analyze our yield maps. This requires some “classroom” time to learn, then upload and then interpret. data.
It seems that every farm organization have their annual meetings in the winter. So far I have attended American Agri-Women, Oregon Seed Growers League, Oregon Cattleman’s Association, Oregon Ryegrass Growers and plan on attending Oregon Women for Agriculture’s annual meeting in March. There are too many to list that I wish I could attend. This is a time for farmers not only to learn and get updates on the crops they farm but also to socialize with other farmers.
I would be remiss if I said there was no fun. Yes, there is lots of work to do in the winter on the farm but it is a time for us to relax a little bit.
We have our annual lamb BBQ towards the end of December. We invite the folks we have done business with over the last year and the neighbor farmers. It’s an event that my family has been doing for 20+ years.
And of course there’s the occasional snowmobiling trip and weekend getaways as well.
I am sure I have forgotten a few items that my dad will remind me of when he reads this post, but like I said there is no lack of work on the farm in the winter.