The crops are harvested. The long hours in the field are done. The grain is in the bin waiting to be fed to livestock or sold to an elevator, processing plant or ethanol plant. So when the work is done in the fall, usually November for us in Minnesota, what do farmers do in the off-season?
It all depends . . .
Livestock farmers are busy year round–they really don’t have downtime. In fact, off-season weather can present some interesting challenges.
Winter weather Challenges
Winters can create havoc for farmers. I remember some brutal Minnesota winters where all that was accomplished was either cleaning up after the last winter storm or getting ready for the next. Cleaning up after a winter storm means pushing snow out of the way so feed trucks can get to the feed bins, grain bins, clearing out driveways, and other areas people need to get at. Getting ready for a snowstorm means making sure the feed shed is stocked with feed ingredients and making sure all the livestock feed bins are full so if feed trucks can’t deliver feed for a few days, the animals will not go hungry. There is no option to not care for livestock during a blizzard.
Repairs and Maintenance
If the winter is mild (meaning not extremely cold or snowing excessively), we do a lot of repairs and maintenance. And I mean a lot! So far this winter we have fixed feeders, waterers, feed bins, heaters, fans, and the loading chute.
It is also during this time of year when most farmers have their business “year end”. Financial statements need to be completed, income tax and visits with lenders or farm management personnel are a necessity. Reviewing and analyzing the past year and making plans for the new year. In fact, one of our new farm decisions for 2017 is planting high oleic soybeans.
Fill the truck, drive to town, empty truck, drive back home and repeat. This is a common sight during the “off-season” of farming. We feed about 1/3 of our corn to the hogs and sell the remaining corn and all of our soybeans. We are thankful for close markets. We have a grain elevator, two ethanol plants and a soybean processing plant all within 10 miles of our home. Most of our corn (that we sell) goes to a local ethanol plant. Usually, we can sell our corn for a few cents more to the ethanol plant. Not only that but we also like the idea of a renewable fuel source, which corn to ethanol provides.
Not only is there work on the farm but this is also the season of meetings. This is a great time for farmers to continue their education.
- They learn of new and better products
- They learn how to do things better on the farm
- They keep abreast of changes and how they may affect them
Time to Recharge
The off-season is also a good time to recharge by taking a little time off. And everyone can benefit from time to recharge!