No winter rest for Ohio farmers
There’s plenty to do on the farm during ‘off’ season
By RYAN CARTER
Although you won’t see them toiling in the fields from daybreak to sunset, the winter months are hardly a time of rest for Ohio farmers.
In fact, most farmers keep just as busy when the weather turns cold as they do during the hot summer months.
“Winter time for farmers in Ohio is spent just like every other day,” said Adam Shepard, the Extension Educator Agriculture and Natural Resources at the Ohio State University-Fayette County Extension. “For those producers who are raising livestock, they spend a great deal of time caring for their animals and assuring they remain healthy and safe throughout the winter.”
While most of the field work has been completed for the year, growers are now tasked with looking back over the growing season and making decisions on how to reduce the risk for next year.
“Winter is also a popular time to service equipment in heated shops and do some maintenance that may get neglected during the busy fall,” said Shepard. “Marketing stored grain and filling contacts with local grain elevators is also a popular task for those growers with on-farm grain storage.”
Producers are also given the difficult task of making purchases for next year’s growing season before this one officially ends.
“Growers are given the opportunity to purchase a great deal of their crop inputs for next year while also receiving a nice discount for ordering early,” said Shepard.
Most growers use the winter as a time to attend educational meetings, such as the ones offered by the OSU Extension to help them be more productive in their operations, Shepard said.
“Some growers carry certification to completed various farm-related tasks that require training and re-certification, which is normally completed during the winter,” he added.
The business aspect of farming never stops, said Fred Hoppes, who has operated a farm since 1967, when he was only 19 years old.
“Now more than ever, farming is a business,” said Hoppes. “And if you don’t run it like a business, you’re going to go broke. I worked seven days a week for 40 years. There is no break.”
Hoppes, who retired from raising livestock in 2009 but still operates his grain farm, added that not only is there no break during the winter months, sometimes even more work may be required than when farmers are out in the fields.
“First of all, your tax returns need to be done properly,” he said. “There’s machinery, maintenance, tax returns, the financial aspect, etc. There’s a whole lot involved. And when you’re dealing with crop inputs, it’s a competitive world. You have to have your ducks in a row. You have to pay attention of where to buy certain items and where not to buy them.”
An increase in excavation in Fayette County has also added more work during the winter.
“There is more excavating now than I’ve ever seen it because the profits are a little better and people can afford to do it,” Hoppes said. “I deal with the business side every day during the winter. You can’t just walk away when the winter months come.”
(Ryan Carter is managing editor of the Record-Herald in Washington Court House.)