We are in a cold spell in Minnesota right now (queue polar vortex) and I am wearing ALL the layers. Thank goodness for autostart and garages. My husband would tell you the same, but he would add a heated shop and tractors with cabs to the items he is thankful for.
In the winter farming slows down on our operation in the sense of time in the field. Winter equals time to fix equipment, tax planning, continuing education, budgeting, and researching inputs and their costs for the upcoming growing season. There is no doubt that winter is somewhat slower, but it is busy in its own sense. At our farm we take Fridays off to make up for the long hours worked during the growing season.
Our biggest equipment maintenance for the winter is on our beet lifter. It takes four guys about three days to get it tore down to the bones. We fix what we can on our own and the grab rolls are sent off the farm for yearly maintenance. The grab rolls purpose is to clean the beets and feed them through the lifter. Depending on the workload of the remanufacture business the grab rolls can be off the farm for up to two weeks. Once back they are the last item to get put back on the lifter and it usually takes a day. Winter work is typically slower so there are a few added coffee breaks and side conversations that add to project timelines. Maintenance will continue the remainder of the winter on other pieces of equipment and trucks as well as hauling stored grain to elevators.
I know as grain farmers our winters are slower than livestock producers which makes me appreciate that sector of agriculture even more. Growing up on a small sheep operation gave me a glimpse into how hard these livestock producers work year round. No matter the temperature the animals must be fed and watered. There is no week long vacations or time off. The animals need tending, daily.
More or less all famers work hard regardless of the time of the year. I’m forever thankful for the seasonality and ability to enjoy suppers around a table or in a tractor. The ability to watch sunsets from the top of the grain leg or from our living room windows. In the case of livestock producers, watching new life enter the world during lambing or calving seasons. No matter the season, life on the farm carries on.
As I grocery shop I am quick to look at what labels are put on my food, not because I am weary of GMOS, non-organic, etc. I look because I know how much the food industry is making off of these labels even though many of these products are naturally GMO free or their conventional counterparts are just as nutritious as the organically produced products. Truth in the marketplace continues to be muddied as companies continue to add more verbiage to their packaging when what we need in the marketplace is education.
As a producer, farming is our lifestyle. It is not just a job or a career. We wake up with the sun and go to sleep with the moon and sometimes vice versa. Producing a safe product for the marketplace is at the center of our operation. On our farm there are many moving parts to manage to ensure we have plant health throughout the growing season and after. This includes applying fertilizer, fungicides and pesticides. We consult with agronomists and read the labels to ensure that the products we use are safe for the environment and people.
The crops we produce on our family farm go into products my family eats, if our farm commodities are not safe in our eyes we wouldn’t be bringing them to the marketplace. As a mom I look to facts not fear when I make my buying decisions. Understanding where your food comes from and how it is produced is empowering, but look to the right sources for your information. Take the time to seek out science or ask a farmer.
I often feel defeated that our voice is not being heard, but I also know that I am not sharing my voice enough. So today I am challenging myself to seek out more open conversations at the grocery store, the gas station, church, etc. so that others can see my passion for the land and the food we eat. I want our food supply to be safe and nutritious but we all have a different view of what is safe is. I am also going to challenge you today that no matter what side of the table you are on seek out open conversations outside of your normal acquaintances and friends about food and farming. Let’s focus on facts not fear.
I'm Lisa, a farm wife, mom and old lady at heart (or my husband tells me so). Agriculture, quilting, and baking were my first loves and now I get to enjoy them with my family!