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  • Writer's pictureHayley Parker

Winter On The Farm

The natural world will always remind you there is a time to slow down. Winter is the blanket of snow that washes over the land. It is the crunching of every footstep on the way up to greet the animals at the top of the hill. It is the wind that seeps its way through the cracks of the barn. Winter is whistling from the draft that comes and goes as it pleases.  It is the goats that rest on a bed of hay in the stall impatiently waiting for the moment when I will arrive to deliver grain and hay. It is the hogs stacking up one on top of the other to keep warm. Winter is the way the whole world falls quiet for only a season.

You ask any farmer, the work is never ending. None of us would deny the cyclical nature or the natural flow of things.   We have to respect the current of life in order to properly care for all that we are responsible for here at the farm. No two years are ever alike but there is most definitely a steady rhythm we can count on. We can listen to winter's calling simply by following the needs of our animals and the land that surrounds us. We live close to the earth.

Easier said than done.  As winter approaches there is a looming list of preparations. A steady pace is imperative in order to make space for a period of rest. Though this may not be a complete list it is enough to give you insight on how we prepare for winter and how we find our version of rest through the lens of nature.

As soon as the maple lines begin to flow it will become the sweet reminder of maple syrup season and all signs of spring. We can find comfort in the melting snow, the warmer days, the running water, the sunshine, and of course, more time spent outdoors. And after that, it is goat kidding season. New life will begin again here on the farm and we will be ready for it so long as we take our long winter’s sleep. 

I wrote this a month or two back and already smirk in reading my words back. We have just exhaled deeply with a family vacation down south. We have arrived home and already the maple lines will be running this week! How? So soon! And of course, we are scrambling but I know as always we will deliver. Controlling what we can and releasing what we can't is a lesson that comes along with winter. Here is my running list that helped us prepare for winter on the farm. I know I must be missing some tasks but I hope to refine it year to year to make smoother transitions from season to season.

Preparations For Winter:

  • Firewood for maple season

  • Finish harvesting the garden 

  • Stock the barn up with hay and grain to feed the goats

  • Stock straw to keep the hogs and piglets warm at night

  • Move the piglets to fresh pasture and check electric fences

  • Breed does and tend to potential goat pregnancies 

  • Clean out buck and doe goat barn stalls

  • Clean out chicken coop

  • Trim up goat hooves

  • Make sure the ATV & tractor are in good working condition

  • Outdoor clean up

Seasonal changes:

  • Take note Doe goats eat more hay and grain but will yield less milk

  • The barn is fully stocked with hay and grain

  • Bred does are  dried off and given a break for 60 days before they “freshen” or start to produce milk again after birthing goat kids next season 

  • Goats are pastured less often because of the weather and lack of greenery to browse

  • Hogs drastically slow down in gaining weight over the winter months

  • Keep the hogs warm with straw and shelters

  • Egg laying chickens to slow down in egg production

  • Time to order our broiler chickens for next season

  • Order all seeds for next seasons garden

  • Outline and begin preparations for maple syrup season

  • Preparation list for goat kidding season

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