Saturday, November 26, 2011

The "Off " Season

The Market is over for the 2011 season. November 19 was the final Saturday. It was an incredibly successful season, and we are grateful to each of our customer-friends for their continued support.

This week, instead of hustling around in the dark and the cold, getting everything ready for a morning of sales, the Boss is drinking coffee and checking the news. Instead of feeding the animals by flashlight prior to driving to town, I am sitting here writing and reflecting on the season that was.

A lot of folks think that once the Market ends for the season that we are “on vacation” until opening day of the following season. Nothing could be further from the truth. While we took it easy this week in anticipation of Thanksgiving with the family, farm work never takes a vacation. So, we’re back at it today, allowing for the seasonal changes in our work routine.

Planting and harvesting slow down to a crawl,
although the cycle continues in the greenhouses year-round. There is a lot of focus on repair and maintenance, planning and preparation. Sorry, no trip to the islands this year. Not that we could, or would, even want to leave our farm here on the hill. Okay, on a real cold, snowy day, I must admit, the islands look REAL good!

Years ago, when we would get the question…WHAT do you do all winter? My answer was “all the stuff we don’t get done in the summer!” That was definitely true. Our homeschooling was a definite “low priority” during the Market season. We tried to buckle down to lessons during the winter. We took family day-trips, caught up on paperwork, and I sewed furiously for the girls to be clothed the next season. The Boss’ winter priorities for the farm were keeping the cows in hay and water to the rest of the animals, while keeping our home warmed by the wood in the woodstove. Winter crops were un-heard of; we were focused on subsistence and survival. Our life was very much like “little house on the prairie” for a while…

Now, we are not quite so isolated, not quite so self-sufficient, although the woodstove still warms us. The girls are grown and married, so our homeschooling is a distant memory. The cows (and their dairy products) are gone, and the sheep don’t eat near the amounts of hay the cows would. We have developed winter crops for sale, and deliver them on a weekly basis. The winter season seems far shorter, somehow.

Winter sales, lambing season, seed starting, researching new crop varieties and farm bookwork all take a toll on my time.
Somehow, all those little things I overlooked during the season are waiting for my attention as well. The Boss is busy with those big building projects that can’t get done in the summer.

New construction, repair, revision…there’s always something that needs his attention.He is also thinking ahead to next Market season. As manager of the Market and committee member, he spends a great deal of time focused on assuring the ongoing viability of the Market.

There is a lot of “behind the scenes” work that enables us to provide products to the Market every single week from April to November. So, the term “off season” is more than a little misleading.
It's only by putting effort into the "off-season" that we are able to be successful during the Market season.

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