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. So when the work is done, 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 we 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. Access to feed bins, grain bins, hog barns are necessary. 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. It is not an option to not care for livestock during a blizzard. They are our top priority.
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. There is always, and I mean always, something to repair.
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. All of this equals lots of time in the office. On the top of our list this winter is estate planning.
Fill the truck with grain, 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 5 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 and conferences. This is a great time for farmers to continue their education.
- We learn about new and better products
- We learn how to do things better on the farm
- We keep abreast of changes and how they may affect us
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! And it really doesn’t matter how a person recharges, just as long as it is done.