Saturday, February 17, 2007

What do you do in the winter months?

I wonder how many times I have been asked this question by my farm customers and friends during the busy summer months. My standard answer is "I spend a lot of the time repairing the damage I did during the rest of the year." That may be a bit of an overstatement but, if one reflects on it, it is not that far from the truth. There really is a lot of cleanup work in the fields that needs to get done in the off season, things like cutting out and burning the old tomato, pepper, and bean vines, dismantling the trellises, and pulling up the plastic mulch and drip tape. And there is always something that needs to get fixed ranging from major mechanical repairs on a tractor to patching that slow leaking tire on a garden cart.

Most people assume that during the wintertime I can kick back and relax from all of the busy activity of the summer. If I'm really honest I will admit that I do a little of that. I regularly enjoy the luxury of getting up between 7:00 and 8:00 AM every morning. Compared to the old days when I got up between 4:30 and 5:00 AM seven days a week no matter how bad the weather, how late I had been up the night before, or how big a snoot full of snotty cold I had, getting up at 7:00 is major sleeping in. That I like! The reality is that, rather than being less busy, my busyness just changes phase. For much of the early part of this winter that wasn't a winter, I kept hoping for some bad weather so I could justify doing some of the inside things that you do when it is too bad to work outside. Choosing what to do other than the things I have to do or the things my wife is trying to get me to do, is like choosing what to eat at a church potluck. Your plate can only hold so much. So you have to do a little of this and a little of that and to leave a lot of things undone that you thought you would have time to do during the winter. The book on autobiographic writing remains half read and I have yet to begin writing any of my stories or the article for "Gardening For Market" that I intend to get done in 2007.

Well this week we finally got the bad weather I've been hoping for. One thing I didn't do was to immediately go out in the cold to chip the snice (mixture of snow and ice) off the car and make the daily commute through all that mess to a job in town. Instead I chucked another log on the fire and went inside to turn on the TV and watch the news reporters showing all those graphic scenes of intrepid travelors struggling through the storm. I didn't even try to clear the driveway until yesterday afternoon and only then because an idea had come to me in my sleep the night before that running the big tractor and disc harrow up and down the lane a few times might cut the compacted snow and ice loose. It worked like a charm! That has to be one of the greatest things I like about farming!

The other nice thing about being a farmer is that when snow and ice prevents you from
working in your fields, you can go play in it. That is a lot better than driving in it.

The pictures show me trying to ride the bump jumper I built more than 20 years ago from an article and pictures I had seen in a magazine. Riding it is sort of like riding a bull in a rodeo. The ride is sure to end with a good spill. The longer you stay up or the farther you get down the hill before dumping the better you are. The photographer had to be fairly quick to get this one of me while it looked good.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Marlin, We were sorry to hear that your house was destroyed by fire. My boys and I would like to help you some day either with carpentry work or with getting the produce gardens planted. Let me know how we can help you best. Myron Horst