What do farmers do when everything is frozen?

If you live in Central Oregon, you have noticed the nip in the air when you are outdoors in the evening or early in the morning, and you have seen the thermometer lows approaching (or in) the single digits. The Central Oregon farmers and ranchers who worked through the long hot days of the summer to plant, cultivate, herd, rotate, and care for our local food supply are spending their time differently now. But what are they doing?

Some of their time is spent preparing for the winter ahead: do buildings or hoop houses need patching or shoring up? Is there enough feed for the animals? Can I get water to plants and animals that need it now that the irrigation is turned off and water left in place for too long will freeze solid?

Some of their time is spent resting, recuperating, and regenerating hard-working bodies and caring for the tools and machines that become extensions of those bodies.  Friendships with faraway family and non-farmer friends are rekindled and conversation topics start reaching beyond the farm or ranch and the practical aspects of getting food grown, processed, and moved to consumers.

The darker, colder months are also a time for planning and investing in skills and improvements to operations.  It’s time to look at the books (and sometimes a crystal ball) and make management decisions for next year – do I grow my herd? Do I expand or focus my species or crop mix?  Will we have another late spring? How will I respond differently if we do? What customers can I count on, and where do I need to grow my business?

HDFFA is proud to be with our local food producers all year round. During the spring and summer, we’re at farmers markets, on the farm, connecting Central Oregonians to healthy local food – and in the colder months, it’s no different. We’re teaming up with other organizations to provide training, funding, technical assistance, business support, and marketing tools.  Farming and ranching are year-round jobs, and we are gratefully doing what we can to make those jobs a little more sustainable for the sake of our partners and the eaters of Central Oregon and beyond.

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