Winter and Farming
Winter is the time of year that allows the earth to rest in preparation for the next growing season. Farmers have finished harvesting their crops and either stored or sold the excess. For dairy and livestock farmers, the stored crops will provide feed for the animals throughout the winter months. Vegetable and fruit growers who retained produce in storage, sell their storage crops wholesale or at farmers' markets throughout the region.
Winter brings its own set of challenges for farmers who must battle freezing temperatures. The cold weather affects each farm differently depending on insulation and whether the livestock remain outside or are housed in barns. For animals who live outside, feed, water and shelter are necessary in this cold environment. On very cold days, water tubs are chopped and animals are led to shelter.
Regardless of the season, farm work never ends. There are always chores to be done when caring for animals or preparing for the next season's crops. Decisions must be made about what and how much to plant, which machinery to replace or repair and buildings that need to be fixed or built. This can prove to be a daunting task with the rising costs of inputs, namely feed, energy and labor.
Farmers spend a good amount of time crunching the numbers based on their input costs and best estimates of future market prices. Much of this is dependent on global supplies and how the weather impacts crops and livestock. Farming is not an easy profession. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "You know, farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field."