During winter, the Iowa prairie covered in snow blends seamlessly into the stark white sky, which can make it very difficult to see at times. I have resorted to wearing my sunglasses so I don’t go snow blind! It’s fun to observe the beauty that can be found during the winter months, while understanding the unique challenges that accompany it. Winter brings about unpredictable weather. Yesterday it was 40 degrees and today it’s 16. Thanks to the most recent winter weather, the ground is covered in a blanket of snow scattered with animal tracks.
The funny thing is, the pigs often enjoy winter more than you would think. I have witnessed the pigs rushing through the pasture covered in snow just to see me. They rustle about playfully. They like to sniff my clothes taking special interest in my rubber boots with a casual nibble here and there. Then the cold wind gusts inspire us to find cover. In the hoop houses the pigs like to root through cornstalk bedding to get warm and comfortable on these cold winter days. But they will eventually want to go back outside. Pigs are such curious creatures and they like the variety of the seasons. The chickens at the farm shield themselves from the wind in the coop inside the barn. They keep themselves pretty busy scratching through the straw for bits of feed.
Winter is usually considered the down time on the farm, but that’s when we focus most on the business aspect of farming, reconciling our books, preparing for taxes and reorganizing our supplies. The snow itself creates additional work, clearing the driveway, shoveling the entry way for the barn, checking fences and ensuring the water lines are working.
Now with the days getting a little longer and the sun setting on the horizon a little later we can look forward to the spring season for growth and a reawakening of the life that surrounds us. Our greenhouse stands ready and waiting for seed planting as we browse through our latest seed catalogs and begin planning for our Willis Farms Garden 2016.