Do you wonder what farmers do in the winter? As you might have gathered by now, winter is slow..but not that slow. Maybe it’s because we’re starting from scratch, and so there is a lot more for us to do than there would be on a farm that is already up and running – but I’m starting to wonder how folks’ take so much time off in the winter!
To give you an idea, here’s our February/March to-do list.
1. Build a chick brooder and chicken coop.
2. Make a fertility plan – this includes determining what (if any) bagged fertilizers we’ll use, how much compost we’ll spread on our field, and when, and working cover crops into our crop plan. What cover crops do we want to plan? Will we undersow (seed cover crops while the main crop is still in the ground, so that the cover has more time to grow up)? How much of our field will get covered and what will we leave fallow?
3. Inventory recipes and work on our zine-style CSA newsletter. We won’t have time to put this together in the spring, so we’re working on it now, so that it’ll be ready come June. CSA members can look forward to the most beautiful, information-packed, creative newsletter ever!
4. Build a dibbler. A dibbler is a rolling device with small markers spaced evenly around it. You pull it across the bed before you transplant in order to get good, even spacing.
5. Finailize our budget and order tools and supplies – this is everything from garden forks and hoes to seed trays and potting soil. It involves inventorying, sorting, and assesing the quality of everything we have in the barn, determing what we need, finding the best deals, and ordering.
6. Build wooden boxes to display our vegetables at our CSA pickups.
7. Build cold frames.
8. Make signs for our CSA and PYO.
9. Clear the hedgerows and do some chainsaw work moving piles of old woods and stumps off our field.
It is all interesting, satisfying work, and there’s a lot of it. I’m glad I don’t live somewhere where I could grow year-round. The space that opens up in the blue days of winter seems vital to the life of a farm – without these few cold months, when would we have time to repair tools, construct new projects, and spend a few lovely hours writing recipes? In some ways, there is just as much work right now as there is at the heart of the season – it is just a different kind of work, executed at a different pace.
I’m glad I live in New England. I’m glad for the snow and the white moon and the lengthening days, and that there is more than enough work to fill them with.