10-10 Challenge 2011 Update

If you’ve been watching farmers over the past few weeks, you may have noticed that the fall harvest has just started. What that means is that they’re going to plant their fall wheat later than normal. You may have discovered the same thing about your own planting, and that’s ok.

I haven’t planted my fall plantings yet either, and probably won’t until next week. But don’t give up, because it’s still worth doing. One of the secrets to growing ones own food is learning to live with the weather, whatever it might turn out to be.


Ice farming

It’s 7 December and it’s 0 Fahrenheit with the wind-chill here in west-central Ohio, unseasonably arctic for this time of year.

Unfortunately, farming responsibilities don’t stop just because it gets bloody cold, so the question becomes how to carry out one’s daily duties without getting hurt. I’m not an expert on this yet, but I can tell you what I do:

  • First, keep in mind that everything will be frozen. Gates, even doors, will freeze shut had have to be coaxed open. It’s really important at this point to check and see whether animal waterers have frozen over. Usually at this point, I’ve discovered the best solution is to just rotate out water throughout the day. It won’t go on forever, and it will keep your animals healthy.
  • Second, keep in mind that this kind of weather will freeze you. Keep covered in layers even if it makes the work harder. I typically wear long underwear under my jeans, a t-shirt and sweat shirt, a coat, gloves, and a knit hat. One thing to note is that you will probably sweat under all those clothes.
  • Third, the dry air and sweating under your clothes will dehydrate you as quickly as the summer heat will. Drink plenty of water and drink it often.
  • Speaking of similarities to summer, take regular breaks in a warm place. If you have to stay outside, find a place to set up a heater so that you can get warm.
  • If you start feeling bad, numb, or uncomfortable in some other way, get inside. Those are all your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Listen to it.