I’ve been asked recently how a farmer’s work changes in the winter and summer. In the summer, we basically milk the cows and turn everything out on pasture. Our time with the animals is minimal due to them out grazing, getting fresh air, fresh green grazing, and plenty of exercise, they pretty much take care of themselves. Our time is spent planting and harvesting all the feed, mowing lawn, painting, gardening, all the fence fixing, basically getting ready for the winter months. By the time the first snow flies, we have our entire winter inventory of feed needed for every animal on the farm, and our fields have been put to rest for the year.
In the winter, almost all our time is spent on animal comfort and care. We milk cows in the morning, then let them out for a few hours while we clean out the barn and give them new clean bedding and feed. If it has snowed during the night, we shovel out bunks to put new feed in, and if it snows again during the day, we shovel again that night! We plow the snow from our driveways, up to our feeders in the fields, all over the farm. We make sure all the animals receive clean, dry bedding every day, and fresh feed. The animals will stay warm as long as their bedding is dry. I put calf blankets on my babies in the calf hutches, and remove them if it reaches 40 degrees.
The other day, a water pipe burst in the back of our barn, flooding everything! We had to shovel all the wet feed and bedding in the entire barn. Our barn is 50 degrees, so even though it was freezing cold outside, the inside was warm, but wet! We had it fixed, and the next day, it happened again. We finally caught a cow who was going in and hitting it with her head. Mind you, this pipe was new in 2012, and this is the first time this has ever happened. You just never know what trouble they will get into!
There are some days, especially in the winter, when we get in for lunch just in time to eat and head back out for night chores, but we can’t eat or sleep until we know the animals are taken care of. Summers are spent on feed, winters are spent on animals, so each one is a change in our routines and that makes it always interesting and fun.