My city friends are starting to ask what we are doing now that all the crops are harvested, so here is a short list of late fall jobs, and why they matter.
Not so beautiful when they are ready to harvest, but look great to us!
· Actually…. We aren’t done yet – we are still combining sunflowers. This is totally normal, as sunflowers are a late crop and need to die off before they are harvested. This can be accomplished by desiccating them (spraying them to kill them) or by waiting for a hard freeze.
· End of season equipment maintenance: The seeder, sprayer and combines all need to be cleaned and have a thorough inspection and maintenance before parking them for the season. This is also the opportunity to do any permanent fixes necessary to replace the “temporary fix” done during the harvest push.
· Field tillage work, soil preparation and drainage projects: Water and nutrient management are critical to soil health, and therefore productivity and environmental sustainability. Drainage projects are designed to maximize the precious resource of water; helping disperse it or collect it, depending on the project. Field tillage serves to aerate the soil, and manage the “trash” (plant matter) left over after combining. Fall applications of fertilizer can prepare the soil for next year’s crops.
· Hauling grain: A farm’s ability to store grain on site dictates when, and how much, grain needs to be hauled to elevators at any given time in the harvest season. We are currently managing our storage by hauling some grain now. Along with hauling grain comes bin cleaning, which means making sure all of the grain gets out of the bin and into the truck. It is like sweeping your house but way dustier! Hauling grain now also allows us to reduce the amount of gain hauling to be done in the middle of winter, when conditions can be much less favorable for working outside.
· Forward planning: Of course, this is an ongoing planning process that takes all winter, but the forward planning starts now. At this point, we have a good handle on our crop production numbers and so we can begin to make informed plans based on actual budget numbers rather than projections. This means deciding which items on the “wish list” can happen this year and which ones will have to wait.
Although there are certainly many more jobs that are occurring on an ongoing basis, these are the top five jobs that are filling our days right now.