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Farming in the Winter

The end of January doesn't conjure up idlylic scenes of farming. There is no hoeing weeds in the garden. No making hay. No little baby chicks peeping. No milking. No

sweating in the warm golden sun that seems like it lasts all day. No watching captivating sunsets to the chorus of crickets.

There is none of that happening right now on the farm. Right now the chores consist of hauling water from the kitchen because the outside water spigots are turned off so they don't freeze. The water buckets need the ice busted out of them numerous times a day so the aniumales have water to drink. Molasses & apple cider vinegar gets added to the water to help give vital nutriuents & act as a

natural antifreeze. This is not a fun job when the temps are in the single digits.

The animals still need to eat in the winter. They just don't get to go out in the pasture & help themselves to whatever looks good to them. Nope. They get room service in the winter. Grass & alfalfa hay, pelletd organic grain & organic alfalfa pellets are on the menu everyday. Every once & awhile they get some fruit & vegetable scraps & Christmas trees. This job isn't difficult, it's just time consuming. There are 4 different place to put the feed. Why 4? Well, some, ok, all of the goats don't like to share their food. This gives everyone a chance to eat their share.

Instead of tending to the gardens,

watching the fuits & veggies swell in size, plucking them from their stems & having a midday snack, it's going down to the cellar or freezer to collect the stored-up bounty. It's thumbing through seed catalogues staring hopefully at what could be in the gardens in the spring. The warm soft dirt is now hard & unmovable now. The only thing to do with them now is to gawk & dream at what they could be. There are new greenhouses to tear down at their former home & moved to organized piles behind the barn waiting to be set up & filled up with the help of family.

There is no more milking right now. The goats are dry. It's time to start preparing for

the birth of little goats kids. It's making sure that all the mamas are healthy. That means vaccines & hoof trimming, not a favorite chore in the winter time. It's crossing off days on the calendar in excited nervousness anticapating the due dates. It's collecting items to make sure that I'm prepared for all the twins & triplets that will bless our farm. There are also goats to dig out of the snow when they get get bored & adventurous!

There are classes & workshops to attend to gain new information. It's spreadsheets, planning & research to make the farm run smoother & hopefully profitable. Stacks of books containing knowledge from farmers who are sucessful sharing their wisdom to budding farmers are waiting their turn to be mentally devoured, highlighted, dog-eared & bookmarked in the dark hours of what was daylight a few months ago.

Just because it's winter doesn't mean that the farmers are on vacation. We are still working, just not on the same things as in summertime. Winter is time to reflect on what happened in the last season & look forward to the next season.

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