After the persons surprise that often accompanies the answer, that yes we indeed do farm, we get asked about vacations. "When do you take vacations," or "Now that summer is over what do you do?" Work never stops, in the winter we are about as busy as during the growing season. I'm just doing different work. Work that takes a back seat during the growing season. We still have it easier than the folks with big animals.
You still have to take care of the chickens. You have pre-winter activites like taking down the rain-water collection system. Winterizing the water tanks and putting everything away. You get the winter setup for the chicken houses out and ready for bitter weather and cover the strawberries with burlap. Winter is the time to work on the tractor and tune up the small engines to get them ready for next year. Fields need to be cleared of fallen trees. Dead trees need to be harvested and cut into firewood.
We will go through about four thousand pounds of firewood (two cords)and three thousand pounds of wood pellets in the house. It is all brought in a little at a time but it is almost a daily chore. We heat the upstairs with the pellet stove and the first floor with a woodstove that is in the kitchen. The wood stove sits in the original cooking fire place. The fire place hearth is eight feet wide by six feet deep, the opening of the hearth at its peak is almost five feet five inches tall. I've been told that I can not cook in it as much as I ask!
The chickens are a daily task that cannot be skipped. Some are kept in houses that have no floors so they can be moved onto new grass without having to let them out. Others are in converted horse trailers and have to be let out every day. This means they have to be closed up for the night too. Then you have to make sure the water is not freezing and more importantly the chickens are not freezing. They will eat more as a way of staying warm so restocking cycles pick up. The Rhode Island Red comes from the north (Rhode Island coincedently) so they are pretty cold tolerant but they to are suseptable to the frigid cold.
There is dragging the crusher-run driveway to smooth out the ruts and redistribute the stone bed. Next up would be fixing doors, windows and any structural repairs that crop up.
Of course winter is also when the Italian Cooking Classes really start to take off. We'll teach bread making, pasta making and tomato based sauces. We get to cook dishes we love to eat and do taste tests with the students. Usually class will start off with a homemade dish for everyone to sample. Then depending on the interest we'll go into knife safety, food borne illnesses or a range of food saftey topics. From there it is into the thick of hands on cooking.
From a vegetable/fruit growers point of view, I think vacation is a good thought but is a misnomer. Your work and responsibilities do not end they just shift and change a little.
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