Winter and I have a love/hate relationship. I love cozy wood fires, pretty snowfalls and more family time due to the earlier darkness. I hate the cold, the freeze/thaw that seems to happen 3/4 of the season and the extra weight of Seasonal Affective Disorder that hangs on my shoulders from October to April. Luckily, I have got a handle on that after years of trying to deal with it on my own and its now just one of the things I hate about winter, instead of being why I suffer through it.
This winter has been busy! Most winters are, as we always have work set aside to keep us going and fill the days. However, this year with the addition of a new chicken barn in the works, we’ve had more than enough to keep up with. Construction is slow and steady as we are building it ourselves, but we’ve finally got a roof on and have started on the steel siding. At least then we’ll be protected from the chilly wind while we start work on the inside. It will be Summer before we are finished as the outside construction really is the fastest part of the build. All the plumping and electrical takes time, along with the furnace and washroom that will be added as well.
In winter, we also head to the woods. Two of the 4 barns are heated with outdoor wood burning furnaces. We have around 200 acres of wood land that we comb through every year to supply wood for those as well as the two houses on the farm. In the wood lot we do not clear cut. We need this forest land to be sustainable and last for years to come. So several times throughout the year we walk the lot and pick out specific areas to thin or where the larger trees are starting to inhibit growth. Then in the winter we’re able to go in with the excavator and tractors to cut the areas we scouted over the summer and fall.
This year, as we have the last 2 winters, we’ve also started clearing a small piece of land that attaches to a larger field. This piece will be cleared and put into crop production. This is not a part of the wood lot, but it has also been carefully scouted to ensure it isn’t interfering with any waterways or anything else that would have a major environmental impact. The wood off of this area will also go towards firewood, however the logs will either be sold or we will mill them for lumber for future building projects. Its yet another way we can be sustainable and foster growth on the farm at the same time.
Winter brings a lot of work, but at the same time, it is a different pace than during the summer. It isn’t a urgent, the timelines are not as important. What doesn’t get done today will get done tomorrow, or perhaps next week. It offers a break from the stress of growing crops and although the weather still plays a part in what gets done in the run of a day, it doesn’t have the impact it does in the summer. Not as much depends on good weather, or the outcome of that weather during the winter, as it does with cropping and haying in the summer. Even livestock is different in the winter. While the chicken barns are a controlled environment, in the summer the heat and high humidity we experience here often requires a lot of work to keep them cool and the chickens comfortable. Its a bit more work to care for the cattle in the winter as they aren’t on pasture so they need to be fed and bedded up so they stay warm during long cold days and nights. However, that also becomes routine and fits in the run of a day. In that respect, winter is much more enjoyable.
While family time is always a priority, in winter we are able to stretch it out a little longer than other times of the year. We get away a little more frequently, and enjoy it without the weight of wondering what’s happening at home. Our boys really enjoy these escapes as well. We try to break up the season with a night or two away to a hotel with a pool and a pizza place near by or spend time sledding in the field with a bonfire and roasted hotdogs.
We also really enjoy the predictability that winter brings. It starts in September when the kids go back to school, but because we’re still harvesting and getting fall planting done, making anything predictable is hard to achieve. Once that is done and the cold weather sets in, so does a more relaxed routine. This is something I look forward to. Its so nice to have some normalcy to the days after 3 seasons of fitting everything in between farm work and kids activities. I look forward to enjoying coffee by the fire in the mornings before the kids get up and ready for school. Then either working or spending the day with the youngest kiddo on days he isn’t in daycare. Then being home by the time the bus arrives with 2 tired school boys who immediately require snacks and a bit of downtime before homework and suppertime. I revel in this routine.
Needless to say, with 3 kids and the farm, we’re always busy but taking the time to enjoy the routine winter brings is so important to me. Meals together happen almost every night and usually at a consistent time. We have family game nights, or spontaneous movie nights. Reading time (I’ve read sooo many good books this winter already! So thankful I’ve taken the time to make reading a priority again) and really, just more time as a family unit than the other seasons really allow for. So while I don’t totally love the winter season, I don’t totally hate it either. We soak it in, make the most of it and thoroughly enjoy it…
Until we start to feel the signs of Spring and that pulling feeling to get our hands dirty and the smell fresh soil comes alive and sparks us awake from the slumber of winters routine.
And then we’ll enjoy that.