Winter Farming 101
With advances in technology and hobby farms growing in popularity, winter farming is having a moment. Winters in the United States can be cold, long, and boring. This season is often associated with preparation, repairs, and hardy produce like kale, chard, and garlic. When the temperature drops, we move inside and keep working to prepare for the upcoming season. We may also pursue an individual passion or take the time to devote to our beloved animals. At New Heritage Feed Company, we believe in farming with sustainability and your animals' health in mind. For tips on how to ready your farm for winter and great feed, visit our site today. We look forward to helping you through those cold months.
Everyone Inside–Winter Farming with LivestockHaving a smaller scale farm doesn’t mean that the arrival of winter months stops everything. On the contrary, this is truly a season to research and prepare, especially if you have any animals. Their needs don’t stop just because it’s cold outside. If you have animals like sheep, goats, or chickens, they will need pens that will keep them warm all winter long. Before the cold really sets in, deep clean animal pens and repair where needed. Although most livestock does well in cooler weather, they will need shelter and a constant water supply. Keep in mind that animals will need fuel for the cold. If you have sheep, this may be a time that they are giving birth or pregnant. Those lambs will need a warm and dry place to grow in. Fun fact: in the winter, chickens will naturally take a break from laying eggs. You can reverse this animal instinct if you want or need eggs through the winter. Install more lighting in a coop can coax eggs from your hens. For more information about caring for chickens in the winter, check out this blog. We also cover how to care for goats in the winter as well. We aren’t kid-ding, either.
Tunnel VisionTunnel farming has become quite popular with hobby or smaller-scale farms. It can be ideal for winter farming if you want to grow produce. Though not underground like the name suggests, you will still need a shovel. The tunnel protects growing winter crops, and is made from a polythene sheet draped on poles or supports. These supplies can easily be found online in kits and are rather easy to assemble. Due to their versatility and effectiveness, tunnels can be for larger-scale projects or maybe to protect a plant or two in your back yard. Larger operations may construct large huts out of the polythene and supports, while small farms scale it down as needed. One option: make a shelter that shoots off from a barn or a smaller sized hut. The environment in the tunnel maintains optimal temperatures and protects the crop inside from the elements. This is a breakthrough, especially for those who wish to grow all year instead of during the traditional growing season. Although you’re probably not as excited as we are about the science involved, it has truly changed the game. We've gone from permanent glass and heavy plastic greenhouses to these versatile tunnels. They can be used over and over again and are often made to last several years if maintained correctly. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is supporting the movement by funding more tunnel projects in recent years. The polythene sheets are available with a built-in condensation defense, meaning moisture, temperature, and so much more can be controlled. In January, grow warm-weather crops like cucumbers and tomatoes. Irrigation and ventilation can also be integrated into this method, adding yet another plus for this winter farming method. This has also been a win for grocers who take pride in sourcing food locally for their stores. The demand to support local farming has been higher than ever. Tunnel farming helps meet that demand instead of getting inventory from Mexico or South America. On a smaller farm, however, tunnels can mean being able to try a new crop during cold weather.
Gotta MaintainWinter farming isn’t just about the winter. Readying your farm for Spring during the colder months is a great use of time in the winter. Taking inventory of the tools you have and maintaining or storing them properly in the winter is vital. Maybe it’s a new engine for your tractor or moving planting beds where you want them. This can also look like researching a new crop to try for next year. If you’re looking to keep it traditional this winter, there are resilient crops that tend to grow well in the winter. Some worth mentioning are:
- Brussells sprouts