While I made the trip out to check the cows this morning, I realized that it was time to change my daily and seasonal routines. There is a dusting of snow on the ground and a layer of ice on the water tub.
Winter hasn't officially begun, but there is no denying that it is coming soon. The next three months will be kept occupied by a lot of waiting, planning, wishing and hoping. I realize on March 20 the weather will not suddenly turn mild nor thaw the ground, but as we start to see colder weather arrive, I can hope the end of winter comes sooner rather than later. Winter is a time of dormancy for the plants we grow, but dairy farmers still have to milk their cows, livestock growers still have to feed and water their stock, apple growers have to prune their trees and all farmers have to plan for next year.
Because our growing season is so short, farmers need to plan well ahead to ensure timely planting and harvest of next year's crops. Even while closing the books on 2011, many farmers have already been calculating their future needs, ordering seed and fertilizer and, as always, trying to keep an optimistic view of the future.
Farmers are, by nature, forward looking. While this year was filled with ups and downs, next year could be better — or worse. While you can't bank on success, you can start planning for it now.
One of the reasons that farmers keep an upbeat outlook is farming is a long-term endeavor. Farmers have a lot of history to look back on for encouragement. Since humans first started cultivating crops and domesticating livestock thousands of years ago, farming methods have continued to improve and production has increased year after year.