As much as we comment about how busy we are during the April though October growing season, we have an equally “non-busy” November though March off season. Normally I’m sad but also a little relieved when the first hard freeze of the winter puts an end to the bulk of our vegetable crops, but this year it seems to have hit me harder and the end feels more abrupt. We’ve added some season extension techniques to grow a few greens and root vegetables for our family, so we’ve been working in the gardens until later into early November this season. We also had an usually warm September and October, so I’ll admit that I was in denial that it actually was going to get cold before Thanksgiving. Near record overnight lows in early November has now proven me wrong.
So to answer your burning question, “What do farmers do in the winter”, here’s a top 5 list:
- Get those back-burner projects done. When you run a market farm, the growing season months are focused on crops and their needs. That means the get-to-it-someday projects must wait until the off season. Sealing the porch deck, replacing missing trim around the barn doors, tractor maintenance and replacing a worn-out pressure tank are just a few of the tasks we’ve already tackled this fall.
- Plan for the next growing season. Those seed and equipment catalogs have already started arriving in the mailbox.
- We both work other jobs. Chris still works a year-round job that is our primary source of income. I have a seasonal job with Meyer Hatchery working remotely as a customer service representative and as a blog writer. It’s perfect for us as market farmers. The hatchery’s busy season is from December to May and I’m online during those dark winter months when farming is slow. Plus, I get to use my poultry knowledge and love for writing. Win, win!
- Visit with extended family. Since we are at farmers markets from May through October, summer weekends don’t really lend themselves for travelling. Our extended family all lives in other states, so we take the winter down time to make our rounds to see everyone.
- Attend education opportunities. We are members of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and try to attend a few conferences and meetings during the winter season. We learn so much by attending conference and networking with other farmers, and that makes us better farmers with better food for you!
So there you have it. We hope you’ve enjoyed a peek into our lives during the slower winter months. We’d love to connect with you on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter if you’re interested in seeing more of what we do on our farm!