Farming in the winter

I already mentioned that I was going to talk about my shop projects this week, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about what the difference between winter and summer farming is. This is a farm blog after all.

Summer time farming is busy. Our brood cows have to be moved to our leased farm (Hi David and Tamara!) along with the calves. That means that we need to check fencing, test hot wires, make repairs, and routinely check on the cows.

Here on our farm, the cows have to be moved to a fresh paddock every single day. That means setting up and taking down temporary paddocks so the cows always have fresh grass, and the grass has 30-90 days rest in between grazings.

Produce is coming out of our ears and we are constantly running around picking up produce, sorting produce, hauling off cardboard, pallets, totes, etc. Everything is high volume. Thrown in the occasional repairs, sick animals, etc and things can get hectic.

In the winter, things are different. All the cows come home to our farm and live in one big herd. We dry off our milk cows so milking is over for a bit. We no longer setup and take down paddocks as the cows are now on hay and produce. Yes we now have to deliver hay daily but that just takes a few minutes. Produce drops by probably 75% and we are basically scrounging from day to day for enough to feed.

In the store, Thanksgiving and Christmas are pretty busy, usually our biggest volume months of the year. We are a specialty store so it’s kind of like going to church on Christmas. In June, you can sit pretty much where you want in church, except that one good seat where that old guy always claims as his own! Jerk. Oops, did that come out loud?

Anyway, try going to Church on Christmas. People you swear have never sat foot in the place are there, with their entire extended family. There is no room in the parking lot. It’s like tourist season. That’s kind of what it’s like for us. We have customers we only see once or twice a year, and always at the holidays. During the year they eat grocery store meat, but when family comes into town, they bring out the good stuff, our stuff. We love all of our customers so we are thankful for whenever they come.

But then January hits. All the tourist customers go back to Food Lion. A lot of our regulars get their credit card bill and die of shock. They go on New Years diets both for food and for spending. So we go from our busiest time of year, to our slowest time of year in the store. January and February are SLOW in the store, definitely the worst months of the year, like 1/2 the volume of December and it happens like turning off a light switch. Stepping back from the details it’s actually rather interesting to see how people behave as a group and how events and holidays have such a profound affect on people behaviors and patterns.

So as farmers, we can either freak out that things have come off the rails, or we can find the good in the patterns. For me, the opportunity is to take advantage of these slow times. These are the times where we’ve expanded the store, looked back at what we’ve done and what is changed, and planned on what is to come.

But for this year, it’s time for getting into the shop and getting some projects done. One of the first projects for this winter, besides cleaning up and organizing, was getting ready for Christmas by makingĀ  a cannon.

Kids shooting the golf ball cannon
Kids on Christmas day, discussing the planned shot

What, you don’t make cannons for your Christmas adventures? What kind of normal life do you live? This is the secret project I referenced a few weeks ago with a picture of some brass in the lathe. That brass was converted into a working golf ball cannon, which was just one part of the overall Christmas adventure put on by our neighbor, Dustin, every year for the kids. Darling Wifey is working on a video of this years event currently so I’ll post it when she’s satisfied.

Brass monkey for holding shot for the cannon
Brass monkey for holding shot for the cannon

And of course we had to build a shot holder to go along with the cannon.

Here is a test shot on the range to hold you over till the actual video comes out.


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