Ah, mid-winter. Winter is an interesting season for grass-based farming. The hard work of feeding the soil, moving fences, and baling hay is behind us and we are simply feeding what we have already stockpiled from a long summers work. But snow, sleet, and ice can make even simple jobs turn into all-day affairs. After the ground freezes and has a solid layer of snow over it, we return the cattle to pasture. They have dense woods to shelter in and an open field to soak in the sun. The pigs are enjoying their piggy palace where they have deep composting bedding that keeps them warm and provides space to root. Their barn provides shelter to the north blocking the prevailing wind but is wide open to the south so they can soak up all the winter sun they can.
Our biggest chores aside from near-daily feeding are safety related; making sure it’s not too slippery for the animals and that areas around the barn and feeding area are cleared off to keep them clean and accessible. There is a fair amount of outside work in winter and the frigid temperatures in January can be exhausting. But we are already feeling the longer days and stronger sun of February and can only imagine that the animals are grateful too. Winter chores are the yin to the summer chores yang; after months in the fields the change of pace to winter chores is welcome. As winter goes on and spring gets closer we all find ourselves yearning for the green fields of summer. For now, we are still embracing the snow and quiet solitude of winter.