Winter is the time when farmers put their feet up and relax, right? Wrong! Though the farm chores list may look a little different in the winter offseason than they do during spring and summer months, farmers and ranchers still have plenty to do to prepare for the spring growing season. In fact, the work you do all winter will prepare you for success throughout the rest of the year.
Winter Chores for Every Farmer or Rancher
Care for Equipment
Your equipment is an integral part of your operation. Make sure it is in good working order by repairing, replacing or maintaining equipment and tools so they are ready to go during the spring and summer months.
Check on Grain
During the winter months, it’s crucial to check and maintain proper moisture levels. If you store grain on-site in silos or grain bins, be sure to check regularly so the grain doesn’t spoil.
Get a jump on the planting season by ordering seed early. The winter months are a great time to speak with your seed dealer and local agronomist to tailor seed selection to soil traits and available water. You can adjust from previous orders and ensure you receive peak yields when you take the time to look at the data.
Caring for your land is just as important as caring for your crop or livestock. Check soil samples and data from your harvest. If you find that your soil isn’t producing the results it should, spend time fertilizing and applying elements, such as nutrients or chemicals (as weather allows).
Evaluate Crop Insurance Needs
Crop insurance can remove an element of risk on uncertain years. One hail storm, flood or drought stress, or dramatic market moves can affect your revenue. Crop insurance is designed to stabilize that risk. The winter months are a great time to evaluate your needs and this would be ideal to add to your farm chores list.
Maintain the Herd
When you raise animals, you know that cold weather can be especially hard on your herd. Animals will likely need extra food and water to maintain healthy body temperatures during the coldest days. Get a few things together to prepare your herd for winter. Pay extra attention to new mothers and babies and provide warm spots for animals immediately after birth. Schedule time in the winter months to have your large-animal vet come and provide check-ups and evaluate overall herd health.
Winter is also a natural time to catch up on paperwork, make sure that payments to employees are up-to-date, and work on tax planning for the coming year. Consider meeting with your financial advisor to update succession plans and other key documents.
Evaluate Insurance Needs
The pace may be a little slower on your farm or ranch during the winter months, but the activity is just as important. Take this time to plan for the coming year and create your winter chores list that will help you manage your farm or ranch operation effectively. Be sure to work with your Farm Bureau agent to help ensure your insurance and financial services needs are covered.