Winter Work: How Farmers Finish up the Year

What does winter weather mean for you? A change in work wardrobe from grey to black? From seersucker to faux fur? Maybe a change in your bike commute? We contacted two of the farmers we work with to find out how the approaching winter affects their work.

On the west coast, we spoke with Torrey Olson of Gabriel Farm in Sebastopol, CA [N 38 ° & W 122 °] who supplies us with a wide assortment of Asian Pear varieties, Fuji Apples, and Fuyu Persimmons.

In the east, Ken Kauffmann of Kauffman’s Fruit Farm in lovely Bird-in-Hand, PA [N 40 ° W 76 °] presides over 110 acres of apple and stone fruit trees with several generations of Kauffmans.

FG: Do you track the weather?

Torrey: I have a weather station. In spring I watch the satellite for frost and wind.
Ken: I check Skybit (an online agricultural weather service).

FG: Are there any weather proverbs you like?

Torrey: You mean, if the sunflowers are pointing east? No, I use google weather.
Ken: Weather proverbs have fallen by the wayside since electronic systems. When I was a kid we would have a contest to see who could predict the weather using signs like a halo around the moon or sundogs.

FG: What are your winter chores?

Torrey: Pruning, except in the heavy rain. It’s hard to look up in the rain.
Ken: Pruning apples now, and peaches in March. Our fellows work outside down to 10 °. We also do equipment maintenance, repair the fruit ladders and bins.

FG: A lot of farm conferences are in January. Do you go to any?

Torrey: The California Small Farm Conference is a good one.
Ken: I enjoy the Tri-State Horticulture Conference in Hershey, PA.

FG: Complete this sentence: “Winter is a good time to”¦

Torrey: Catch up. Winter weather is what lets the farmer get a break.
Ken: A time to reflect. Visit with friends and family.

– Heidi Lewis

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