Winter Slow Down, Kind of

farm, what do farmers do in the winter, minnesota, mn, dairy, organic

“Sometimes” I get annoyed when Tim isn’t around to help with the five o’clock crazies or doesn’t come home until I am crawling into bed. Okay, it is like once a week. There is always the promise that the next season will be better, that he will have more time. You think I would have learned after seven years of marriage… I am a slow learner.

In many people’s minds, winter is a slower time on the farm. Visions of sitting near the fire, planning for the next planting season, with a dog relaxing on the rug, are lovely. BUT not really true. I am asked a lot “what do farmers do in the winter”?

So what does our winter schedule look like on the farm?

4:30 a.m. Jon gets up and heads to the barn to start calf chores.

6:30 a.m. Jon and Lisa start morning milking.

7:00 a.m. Tim arrives at the farm to mix a batch of cattle feed. He also takes care of feeding the heifers and dry cows and finishes any calf chores that are still not completed.

8:15 a.m. Jon and Lisa finish milking and then take about thirty minutes to clean up the milking equipment and parlor.

8:45 a.m. Jon and Lisa head up to the house for some breakfast.

9:45 a.m. Tim finishes up feeding cattle and comes home for his breakfast/lunch break

11:00 a.m. Tim and Jon return to work. They spend the time fixing equipment, clearing out dirty bedding and replacing it with clean straw or sand, meeting with salesmen, working on  paperwork, moving calves from hutches to group housing when they are old enough, going on parts runs, visiting the Farm Service Agency office, and going to meetings.

2:30 p.m. It is time to start evening chores. This includes, feeding the milking cows, scraping the manure out of their barn, mixing another batch of feed, and doing all the calf and young animal chores.  Also, during this time we get the milking parlor ready for evening milking.

4:30 p.m. Dinner time!

5:00 p.m. Evening milking starts

7:00 p.m. Evening milking finishes and it is time to wash down the parlor and milking equipment.

8:00 p.m. Call it a day (unless there is still equipment to fix).

This is what the farm’s schedule looks like six days a week. On Sunday, everyone takes the time between chores/milkings off to attend Church and relax.

I have to admit that winter is a whole lot easier than spring, summer and fall. In those months Tim wouldn’t even dream of sleeping in until 6:30 a.m. or being home by 8:00 p.m. especially when there is field work to do.

I need to remember that I was well aware of the dairy schedule before I married Tim (we dated for five years for Pete’s sake). Yes, while this schedule looks crazy busy, it doesn’t mean that the kids and I do not see Tim. Every morning we eat breakfast together and every evening we eat supper together. If the weather is decent the kids will tag along with us during chores and milking.

Now that I am reflecting more, I believe that even though Tim works less in the winter, we see him less. In the warmer months the kids and I will ride in along in the tractor and hang out at the farm more. In the winter it is tougher. 

That is what we do in the winter on our farm. Soon enough it will be Spring and I will be making many, many field lunches.



4 thoughts on “Winter Slow Down, Kind of

  1. Weekend Cowgirl

    We do not have milk cows, but our winters seem to be just as busy. We have cows birthing nearly all the year so it seems just as busy as summer. And in winter we do everything we do not have time to do in summer like trimming trees, upkeep, cleaning barns, fixing fencing, etc… I just like working in spring, summer and fall better than winter!