We get asked frequently about how winter is going, “what do you do in the winter?” It seems as though a small-scale farmer in the winter, in South Dakota, is a strange, curious specimen – as though we were in an elusive club with Santa and rodeo clowns. We’d like to share with you how we’re spending our time these days, our winter to-do list.
1. Reflection and review: taxes, review finances and budgets, reflect on our previous growing seasons, what techniques worked well, what didn’t.
2. Planning: reevaluating and restructuring our crop rotation plan, plotting the planting calendar, seed inventory and selection, figuring out the cover crop schedule, selecting fruit trees, planning budgets, livestock and pasture management ruminations.
3. Reading: we’re both powering through a thick reading list this winter. Our public libraryand interlibrary loan are amazing resources.
4. Conferences and workshops: Winter (along with our much appreciated farm-sitters) gives us an opportunity to head off-farm to different conferences and classes to learn heaps and recharge. In November, we went down to New Mexico to reconnect with friends at the Quivira Coalition conference (check out this presentation, Fred Kirschenmann on farming methods and thoughts from the past into the future, and this one too, Dorn Cox on Soil and Silicon). In a couple weeks, Jeremy is headed to a seed production and breeding workshop lead, in part, by some of our favorite seed growers. Additionally, Trish is facilitating the Farm Beginnings course this year in Rapid City.
6. Infrastructure design/build, tool maintenance, work on the greenhouse, vegetable wash area, day-dreaming plans for a farm stand and wood fired oven, planning a PV system (and lamenting SD solar incentives).
7. Restful time with friends and family. Pancake breakfasts, extreme snowshoeing, ardent board games, sending care packages, eating ice cream. Connecting with our inspiring farmer friends over bottles of wine, plotting chicken feed collectives and local food systems.
8. Cooking, baking, enjoying foods we put up last year. Exploring amazing lamb recipes.
9. Scheming: winter is planning time for Spearfish Bike Week, a seed swap (coming up here soon – Feb 22nd), Pi Day and summer farm events. So much to look forward to.
10. Teaching Radish new tricks. Last winter, Radish dazzled us by learning a one-command multi-part trick, “How do you want your mocha this morning?” She’s now working on a pawkour routine (a la parkour). She’s got hellagood ninja inspiration.