What do Farmers do in the winter?
I hope you all had a fun & safe Christmas! Regardless of how or who you choose to celebrate it with, I hope everyone had some time to appreciate those special people in our lives.
Please tell me I'm not the only one who wraps presents for our pets knowing darn well I'm unwrapping them, too!
To be clear, this is NOT your CSA sign-up email. We don't accept CSA Share Memberships until the new year, so on January 1st right away in the morning you'll get an email from me with the link you can follow to sign up! This blog is simply to elaborate on what keeps us busy in the wintertime, along with some fun stories! As I mentioned last week- I actually have a lot I want to share with you!!
WELCOME TO THE WINTER:
Let me start with this: everything is broken after the farm season. We are HARD on our equipment, lawnmowers, 4 wheelers, tractors, etc. Within 2 weeks of the farm season we replaced the back wheels on the 4 wheeler, replaced some hoses in the coolant lines for the tractor, got the brakes done on the delivery van, and replaced belts on the lawnmower. Like I said, we beat the crap out of our equipment but really, there's no way to run a farm without using these tools!
We are excited to get started in the greenhouse and have a couple more months of prep left. Ordering seeds, dirt & other supplies, building benches and adding a canopy to the tomato lean-to, insulating part of the barn and framing in the walls, so. many. projects.
This fall we also spent a LOT of time processing produce. I can confidently say, we've never been more prepared for winter. We eat a lot of our own produce that we've frozen or canned, but also still have some fresh produce on hand. Potatoes, onions and squash mostly but we do still have some carrots in the crisper drawer!
For those of you who purchased produce at the end of the season, please check on your produce! Remember, you want a well-ventilated area that's away from heat sources or fluctuating temperatures. I even have a little fan going in the basement to keep ours good because there isn't a ton of ventilation in our 1933 farmhouse.
If one squash goes bad, it'll soften all of them around it over time as well. Same goes for any variety of produce really, so it's super important to be checking on your veggies and making sure they're still good! If you find a squash with a soft spot, cut it off and cook it! Ben & I actually just made some more butternut soup to freeze the other day because our butternuts weren't holding up like the other varieties. Butternut are the most delicate (in my opinion) right next to the delicata.
FITTING IN SOME FAMILY FUN!
We love ice fishing. We've been out a few times already and have some fun trips planned this winter. We are a bit old fashioned & we don't have an ice castle like all of our other cool friends ;) We have a sled that we pull out on the lake and use our pop-up with a little heater if the kids get cold. As soon as the ice is thick enough, we'll be happy to be able to drive out to where we want to fish!
We got on some small ones the other day and had a few bigger ones mixed in. Sometimes we get great pictures, other times we can't even open our eyes for the camera!
This summer my sister and her family moved to Nisswa. They weren't very far away before (Merrifield), but they moved to their new place which sits on a little wetland lake. During the summer we stay close to the farm. We'll go to lakes around us but never that far away, so this fall we've enjoyed a couple trips up north. Karli & I went kayaking in October and look- we're in short sleeves!!
So far this winter break, the girls have moved everything around upstairs, so many times. They've got their own rooms but for now decided they wanted to stay together. Well, then they decided Karli's room wasn't big enough for all the toys AND their beds, so they moved their beds to the closet. Now Karli's room is the "playroom", and the closet is where they've slept the last 2 nights. Kelsi's room remains empty and is now a landing spot for anything they deem unworthy of their humble new abode.
Our youngest here took some of our minnows and put them in one of my nice Tupperware containers upstairs for their fish tank. They really did think of everything!! So this is their new fish tank. In their new closet bedroom.
I can't argue with the imagination! In a very calm voice, I explained that they needed to move these minnows to the real fish tank though, water circulation and all, or something. haha. So they're still sleeping in their new bedroom but thankfully there are no more fish ;P
These are a big milestone for us. It's a weird one, huh? Let me explain!
We farmed land in 3 separate cities for 8 YEARS and never owned any property. We were hauling our equipment and employees back and forth, so many hours traveling but it was the only way to operate our "farm"... The only reason it worked is because we believed it could!
When we bought our farmhouse here, we were closing the chapter to our Big Lake home and farm field rentals. We moved here to Oak Park, what we literally have dreamed of our entire lives, and now finally have the ability to get our roots down a bit deeper...
One consideration most people don't think about is that some of the produce varieties we grow are perennials. In the past, we would have to start new plants every spring because we never had a guarantee that someone else's land would still be available to rent. So even though we planted perennials, we'd just till them under and hope that next season we'd be able to plant the same space again. No guarantees.
This is such a bad picture (I asked Ben to take one, lol!) but you can see the rows of apple trees on the outside edge of the picture. It takes up a significant portion of the front yard!
Getting to the point- WE HAVE PERENNIALS! Now that we bought our own farm we have the ability to invest in our land here, soil health, and crop production. Apple trees take 5+ years to produce and usually a few years after that will start producing a solid number of apples.
What I'm getting at is that it was a long time coming, years and years of desire and waiting. We're here. The trees are planted. They have cute little ribbons and they've been properly spaced (literally using a tape measure!). We have our own little orchard, and the satisfaction of having them there is priceless.
Cheers to harvesting our own apples in years to come! We only planted about 20, but maybe one day we'll have more room!
"The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is today."
I'm currently updating the website and expanding on a few pages. As veterans of our CSA it shouldn't be anything you don't know already, but just the updated dates, pictures, pick up sites; general updates for 2023.
When I send my next email to you it'll be very short and sweet. It'll have the link specific for our Returning Members.
Thank you for reading the blog and staying in touch with us, it means a lot to us to have your support! We look forward to being in touch very soon; CSA Membership opens in just a couple of days!!
~The Farmer's Wife