Friday, February 13, 2015

Spring Prep

Once Christmas is over, most farmers start to turn to the new year.  Some are looking back in order to move forward while others see it as a fresh start every year.  There are as many reasons and opinions on what to do as there are people. 

As with everyone else, I like to think that we are ahead, but it always feels like we are trying to catch up.  Last winter we set out to change that.  We unfortunately didn't get as much done over summer as we were supposed to, but it made this years prep easier.  You see, last winter we made a list of all our fields, the problem weeds we have, what we can plant to help control them or if they can be controlled.  Combined that with the feed we would need for the livestock and what small cash crop we could grow.  That is normally half the battle here.  We made plans last year for 7 years. 
My livestock is bred in the fall, so again, not much to do.  Chickens are put into breeding flocks in November.  Cows are bred in July.  Goats in October.  So, spring prep for livestock will be first the chicks that hatch in January.  Well, the chick cages are bleached and stored every July, so they just need shavings and filled feeder and water unit.  Then it is the goat kids in March.  Not much there.  Just the normal supplies that we keep on hand.  Same goes for the calves in May. 

So, what does our spring prep consist of?  Seed catalogue after seed catalogue.  We have several that come every year.  Some things we already know what varieties we want and some we dont.  We have to look at what we ate as a family, what sold, what grew, what didn't, what kept, and what didn't.  Not to mention the amount of what was eaten.  Only after we know all that can we start our seed catalogue search for just the right seeds.  Some things we save the seed from.  Others, we simply can't right now.  So we sift through the half dozen or more catalogues to find open pollinated heritage or heirloom seed.  Then we order.  Oh man does it feel like it is expensive.  Reality is, if you don't plan what to plant, how you will use it, and the amount needed, it can be very expensive and wasteful.  Try not to get caught up in the "look" of the seed and all the new things to try.  Are you really going to eat it or have time to care for it.  If you can't answer yes to both, don't get it.

Next it is taxes.  Yeah, no one likes it.  No, everyone has to do it.  Yes, refunds are good.
It is also a good idea to revise any plans you have.  Grazing plans.  Fences may need repaired due to a winter storm.  Creek path could have washed out.  Any number of things.  Field plans, even though you may have 7 years of them still have to be looked at.  Did a new weed show up?  Was one weed worse?  Did a neighbor over spray killing hay crop?  Will you need a new bull this year? 
Spring prep is all about planning.  Planning to succeed in the year to come.  The more planning you can do the better prepared you will be and the more work you will be able to do.  I recently read something to the effect of " do the right work to move a head, not just the busy work".  Anyone can work 9 hour days.  But to move forward you have to know what is most important to do then.  Planning is the only way to do that.