Countdown to Winter

While we didn’t get much rain last Friday morning, it was enough to get things muddy and damp, and we were very happy with our decision to postpone our Farm Day event.  The weather this Saturday should be perfect for spending a day in the country, and we are looking forward to seeing you.  If you are still on the fence about coming out, there are still tickets available here for the event.
Each fall, we have a long list of tasks to get the farm ready for winter.  First on the list is harvesting the storage crops that have grown all summer, primarily winter squash.  Second is planting all of the crops that we’ll be harvesting in the winter.  Then comes cleanup of our summer tomato fields and their acres of trellises that must be removed and stored until next season.  Finally, we plant cover crops on all the fields that won’t be producing crops during the winter.
We used to have a sense of urgency about getting all these tasks done before the arrival of winter, but the long drought undermined the idea that any or all of them had to get done by a certain date.  For example, we used to work hard to make sure all of our fields were cover cropped by Thanksgiving.  But in 2015, we were still planting cover crops the week after Christmas.  It was 75 degrees and dry.
Last year schooled us, hard.  We got our first rain in mid-October, effectively shutting down all activities on the farm other than harvest of winter crops.  By the time it dried out again we were weeks behind. It was a mad scramble to get the farm ready for winter, and when it arrived for real in December, the fields didn’t dry out again until March.
This year we have probably overcorrected.  We’re actually ahead of schedule on removing the tomato fields — but that’s because the intense heat of the summer shortened their lifespan — and we’re almost ready to start planting our cover crops.  But thanks to the cool weather we’ve had here all month (until now), it still feels like we’re behind.  As if it were mid-November already.
If I had to guess, I would say that this winter will probably be very different from last.  But if it’s not, we’ll be prepared this time.


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