Dirt Road Charm

Motherhood, Agriculture, and everything in between

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What Do Farmers REALLY Do All Winter You Ask?

What do farmers really do all winter?  Great question!!!  I have the unique opportunity with my job to meet with farmers and ranchers from all sizes and spectrum's be it 50 acres to 10,000 acres, beef to dairy to grain only.  With the diversity that I see on a daily basis I figured I had a great opportunity to share with you what these people actually do in the winter! 

I found it interesting that while I was out taking pictures and was talking with these producers many of them feel that the average American that has no ties to agriculture believes that they do nothing all winter but vacation and live in Florida. Well I reassured them that we will let the truth out!

I have been in Agriculture my whole life so I naturally married a farmer (shocking I know).  I can tell you first hand that I really only have a husband from December through February.  The rest of the time is spent in the field or working on equipment to get them in the field and keep them there.  It starts with Planting season.  Around March they will bring all the equipment in and get it ready to hit the fields to plant the crops in the ground.  From there you start cutting and baling hay.  Then it is time to harvest wheat and then bale up the straw.  In the meantime you are continually cutting hay and before you know it its time for harvest in the fall when the corn and soybeans are taken off.   After harvest you clean up all the equipment and get it ready to be put away for the winter.  whew.

With that being said the 3 months of winter may be used to slow down a little for some producers (not all) and spend more time with family.  So back to what they do all winter.....

Some guys use the winter to expand the operation.   When you run out of room many times it involves putting up more bins or buildings
Here is a new building that will be used as a maintenance shop and the old building can now be used as storage for equipment.  Storage is very important for these producers because when machinery is left out all winter and in the elements parts and pieces wear out quicker due to weathering and rust.
As stated before winter is a time for many producers to bring equipment in and prepare it for spring planting.  Here is a planter that one of my customers had in their shop going through to make sure it was up to par.
Now not all farmers are strictly grain farmers.  For beef and dairy producers the work really doesn't stop through the winter.  Beef producers are preparing for calving in the early part of winter and then calving gets heavy in later part of winter.  With calving comes calf checks.  Many people will get up every couple hours to go check on cows that have shown signs of calving.   This makes for long nights but a live calf in the end makes it all worth it.

Sometimes you even have instances where the mother has an injury and the vet comes out to do a C-section to save the calf.  If the mother doesn't make it then it is up to the producer to become the new mommy.  Here is a prime example of a calf that was born 3 weeks early do to a spinal injury to the mother.  The calf was placed under a heat lamp with a blanket to keep it warm and is bottle fed 3 times a day to get it healthy and strong to join the rest of the herd.

When things go right the calf will drink from the mom with no problems!  That is what we aim for
Dairy Farmers:  these people I give major props to!  A dairy farmers work is really never ending.  It doesn't matter what time of year it is the cows need milked everyday multiple times a day.  Winter is really no different than any other time of the year except the winter can make things much more difficult with freezing temps and slippery ice.

The parlor doesn't shut down just because it is winter.  These normally run around the clock with some down time to wash and sanitize.

Both beef and dairy cattle need fed everyday.  Beef cattle that are normally out to pasture now need fed in the winter because all the grass is under snow (at least in the Midwest that is the case :) and dairy cattle normally get fed 2 or more times a day.  Work doesn't stop just because it is winter.

This is just a little of what goes on over winter for producers but gives you an idea that they are not just hanging out at home in front of the TV with their feet kicked up waiting for spring to arrive!

Until next time.........

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