What do Farmers do in Winter?
Disclaimer: I speak only for myself.
Short answer: kick back, relax, and recharge (we put out a lot of energy in the growing season; like the earth & plants, winter is a time to draw inside, slow down, and let things be).
Details: one of my priorities is recreation – ice skating, cross country skiing, reading, walking in the woods. When there is good ice to skate or snow to ski – better do it now because in these parts, it’s not to be taken for granted – it could melt, get snowed on, etc, in short, outdoor recreation comes first. In the photo below, we had plenty of ice, but it was quite warm; since we could not skate, we rode our bicycles on the ice on the pond.
Of course, there is work: cutting firewood, cooking, keeping up with housework & maintenance, stoking fires, etc. We heat all our buildings with food fires: 2 residences, a common house (kitchen, office), a green house, and a workshop – so we burn a lot of wood (and then there’s the wood to process sorghum & maple syrup). Also, people travel during the winter to see family & friends, but the buildings need to be kept warm to keep water pipes and/or plants from freezing.
There are plenty of maintenance jobs: keeping buildings weather proofed, building bee boxes, plumbing repairs, etc. Items that may not come readily to mind: planning next year’s crops – including seeds, cleaning some of last year’s seeds, making tempeh & mustard, market research, etc.
Winter is also the time when there are organic/sustainable farming & gardening workshops and conferences. I will be going to conferences the next 2 weekends and will post on those. We are already doing maple syrup and taking care of honey bees (it’s a lot of work going thru the equipment in preparation for next year).
We also take time for personal growth: catching up on reading (business & novels too!): at various times in our history, we put a lot of energy into a “retreat” – when our community would focus on long term goals, improving our interpersonal relationships, etc. We would invite an outside facilitator to introduce a new technique and work with us to clear the air between us. Lately, we have focused more on individual growth than a group process.
My next post is an example of a recent personal growth initiative.