Winter at the Farm


Oh, how I love it. Snowflakes melting on my wind burned cheeks, sprinting, then sliding on ice with arms out for balance, making snow angels, trying to keep the dogs from wrecking my snow angels, tossing stones on the frozen pond and listening to the echo-y twang as they hit the solid or not so solid ice. Sometimes I spend quiet weekends at the kitchen table reading the newspaper and drinking coffee and I ask myself, have I entered retirement? Or is this what normal people do Saturday morning instead of going to farmers market at 5am? I do other crazy things like read books, (ones that aren’t strictly about farming), take long walks, take afternoon naps, go running, watch movies (okay, just one, I watched one movie, only one), hang out with friends and I even went downhill skiing!

But before you think I am living a life of leisure, let me inform you: yes, I am still employed. The glorious pruning of tree fruits began the day after Christmas. Paula Reds are already done. Working on pear trees now. We’ll be pruning trees in the orchard until spring when other things become more important… flush irrigation system, uncover strawberries, plant more apple trees.

I’m gonna miss a lot of that spring work though, what with that whole hiking the Appalachian Trail thing. If you want updates on that chapter of my life check out my personal blog at Your questions and comments are always welcome.

So winter on the farm has been super so far. I look forward to many more cold, snowy days pruning apple trees with my farm family. Pruning is a science, but also an art. If you know the science, you can make it art. Get it? You walk up to a tree and study it intently, developing a vision for what it could be and then began cutting and rearranging one branch at a time. It becomes second nature, automatic after a while, but we do get stumped every so often. Then we call for a pruning conference, which usually goes something like this:  “Can I cut this branch? What if I cut this one instead? If I cut this one, that would remove this and this and this and let this one grow in.” Sometimes the response is, “Oh, just leave it til next year.” or “Go ahead and cut it. It’ll grow back.” or my personal favorite: “Do whatever you want.” I really, really love pruning. I don’t really love the side effects: sore back, sore shoulders, but you gotta take the good with the bad and the body acclimates after a week or two.

The seed catalogs are beginning to come in. Johnny’s, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Baker’s Creek Heirloom Seeds, Seed Saver’s Exchange, Jung, Burpee, High Mowing Organic. “Which one will I get today?” I wonder as I trudge to the mailbox in my heavy boots and Carhartt bibs. I try not to spend too much time reading them though. It makes me feel kinda sad inside knowing that I won’t be buying any seeds for the upcoming season.

And that’s just a little peek into my winter life here on the farm. I am ever so grateful and fortunate for this life I lead and I plan to soak up every moment of it, because before you know it, it’ll be spring, which always bumps up the tempo around here. And it’ll be right about then that I find myself embarking on another adventure hundreds of miles away where I’ll dream of home and try to devise a plan whereby our farm fresh strawberries will survive the USPS system. Let me know if you have any genius ideas on this.

Winter at the Farm

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