Have you ever wondered what farmers do in the winter? Even the most casual observer can see what farmers keep busy with in the warmer months of the year. Crops need to be planted, tended and harvested. Hogs, cattle, poultry and other livestock go to local and state fairs. All of those outside projects that came up during the winter (and were put-off until warmer weather) are finally completed.
Although the work of farmers may not be easily seen in the winter, the work of a farm never stops. Winter is a time of wrapping up loose ends from the previous season and preparing for the upcoming one. And like all farmers in Indiana, Rob Richards of Indy Family Farms is keeping busy this winter. I had the opportunity to correspond with Rob and talk with him about what operations look like at his farm during the cold moths.
Rob said that his farm’s typical winter operations include fixing the equipment used during the harvest, organizing and cleaning the shop, hauling stored grain to elevators, and prepping for taxes. Like any business, farms have assets they need to maintain and business operations to perform.
Winter offers a challenge to farmers because of the unpredictable conditions. “We haul a lot of grain in the winter, and weather conditions can play havoc with travel and some of the equipment we use,” he explained.
Additionally, the folks at Indy Family Farms spend a good portion of their winter finishing the 2014 crop budget, selecting and ordering various input items (seed, fertilizers, chemicals, etc…) and completing the 2014 crop plan by field. Farming isn’t a simple matter of waking-up on the first morning of spring, pulling out the tractor and planting the fields. Careful scheduling is involved to make sure farmers have a plan for planting their fields at the proper time of the year with the right supplies.
Although winter means busy days finishing 2013 business and preparing for the 2014 planting season, Rob noted there are advantages to the change in seasons. “Work hours are more regular and there is less need to work extra late hours, like during planting and harvest,” he said. He added that the winter season comes with more flexibility for family activities, and offers the opportunity to visit the landowners they work with, and sit down with employees to get their input about farming operations.
What do farmers do in the winter? Plenty. The activities completed post-harvest and pre-planting are the nuts and bolts of a successful operation. Colin Powell once said: “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” For the farmer, this is what winter is all about: working hard to learn from the previous season and to prepare for the next one.