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So, we have all been enjoying the Fall weather. Its cool and breezy. But now the days are getting really short and it is getting much colder out. Preparation and other winter farm activities are just on the horizon.
Due to the short, cold days most of the big outside tasks will be put on hold until Spring gets here. However, there are still some things you can do around the farm. In addition to the daily chores, of course.
Winter Farm Activities we will be doing this year:
1) Get ready for Goat Kiddings
If like us, you bred your goats in the Sept – Oct range, then your does may be due in Feb – Mar. Since it is our first year for kiddings, we will be spending some research and education time learning all the ins and outs to be the best prepared that we can be.
We will also be getting all of our kidding supplies ready. Additionally, we will be updating our website with the expected due dates to open up waiting lists for the kids.
2) Start Garden Planning
OK, you may think at first that it is a little early to plan your garden. But trust me, it isn’t! Depending on your planting zone, some crops should be started inside as early as February. We do square foot gardening and have a mapped out plan in Excel.
So, each year we make a list of what we want to grow, plan how much we will grow, and map out what boxes each thing will go in. If you are growing new things, you can spend the time to research the best ways to grow them.
And, of course, order your seeds.
3) Replenish Your Layer Flock
Again, this may seem like it is too early to think about. However, if your layer flock is getting older and you want hens ready to lay in Spring/Summer, you will need to start thinking about getting chicks in Jan or Feb.
We also offer growouts to our customers each year, so we will be ordering a batch of pullets in January. That way they can start growing out for those who don’t want to deal with brooding their own chicks.
4) Spring Expansion
Each Winter (maybe due to lack of outside time) we always come up with one big, fun, new exciting project for the next year. This year we did two — chicken breeding pens and goats. So, use the time to sit and think about what you might like to expand into next.
Maybe it will be a new animal.
Maybe more of something you already have, a new gardening style, an orchard the list could be endless.
If you are farming for profit (and not just self-sufficiency), go through your books and see what was most profitable (maybe you should add to that venture), least profitable (is it still worth doing?) and what months you would like to add income to (what activities can fill in this gap?).
5) Decluttering & Organizing (outside and inside)
As things slow down, and we look around the whole house and barn really are a bit out of control. Papers are everywhere, feeders and waterers are not put away, feed bags are taking over the barn. The list could go on and on.
So, one main winter farm activity here is to declutter the barn (and the house). Get things put back into their proper places. Organize everything that is out of place. And, in general, just get things clean.
6) Catching up with animal health records
No matter how good our intentions are at the start of each season, marking things on the animals health records is something that we always seem to fall behind on. It is so easy to grab a goat for a quick hoof trim during feeding time and then forget to mark the date down.
So, now that things are a littler slower, go through everyone’s health record. Make sure that their latest treatments are notated.
7) Meal Stock-up
One winter farm activity that is really useful is stocking up on meals. We like to make some easy crockpot meals and freeze them for a later date. This is especially useful during the busiest times (like kidding season) when you may not know that you will end up outside helping a doe and her new kids right at a mealtime.
It is so awesome to be able to grab a pre-made meal out of the freezer. You can heat it quickly and it is healthy. One of our favorites is this chicken or beef chilli. If you do not have a crockpot, you are really missing out. It is the BEST kitchen appliance ever! We love this one, but for a little more money you can get a really fancy programmable one.
8) Working on all of the things that we missed
I will be the first to admit that my “to-do” list is longer than reasonable. There’s all the things you have to do. Then all the things you need to do. And finally, all the things you want to do. And try as I might, there is never time to fit it all in.
So, during the winter, take a look at your “to do” list. Identify a few (key word: FEW) things that you want to tackle. Then, dive in! On our list for this winter is making cheese.
What winter farm activities will you be trying? Let us know in a comment below!
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