There’s a story my father used to tell, a true story that he never got tired of repeating.
Two elderly women came to the farm to buy some peaches. They were standing and admiring the orchards when Dad overheard one gush to the other, “Oh Ethel, can you imagine what it would be like to live on a fruit farm? For 2 months you get to eat all the fruit you want, and the rest of the year you can be in Florida!”
I think of this story when people ask, “So, what do you do all winter?”
This question we hear most frequently in fall when the customers at our farmers’ markets are saying good-bye for the season, or on the last day of CSA pick-up. But we get the question throughout the winter as well.
It’s a fair & reasonable question.
But there isn’t an easy answer, at least not a short & quick answer. My stock answer that I give is as follows … I prune the fruit trees, I maintain & fix equipment, I catch up on my office chores/book work, and I relax & take it easier.
This winter with all the snow we’ve had and the colder temperatures, not much pruning has been done – actually I have not even picked up a pair of pruners or my saw. But once the weather breaks and there’s less snow to trudge through, we’ll be out there!
Maintaining & fixing equipment is not a favourite task of mine. I do it – grudgingly – but I don’t enjoy it. Getting dirt on my hands is a pleasure, but grease & oil is something else.
Office work – it never ends! Often it is government paperwork – filling out forms, and keeping up with regulations etc. Far more stimulating is dreaming about and planning for the upcoming season – the what, when, where, why & how of growing, harvesting & marketing. Much of this exercise is completed now & we’re just filling in the details.
I’m getting particularly good at the relaxing & taking it easier part of my answer. What a treat not to get up at 3:30 am to go to market, or even at 6:00 am to work on the farm. And drinking a morning coffee while not being in the truck is way more enjoyable. Cold & snowy outside? Maybe I’ll just stay in and read today …
I always say that winter is a good time to be a farmer – even if I don’t spend it in Florida!