Changing Season, Changing Mentalities

Wet, windy, 50 degree days are very different from their dry, sunny counterparts. Though the temperatures haven’t changed much, over the past few days the farm has seen the first of its transitions into the cold season.

This is one place where our systems have an opportunity to shine. Our careful pasture management means our animals will be able to stay outdoors well into late fall, eating fresh for as long as possible. As chicken processing and the first round of butchering pass, our numbers decrease and we can move extra shelters in with the animals who are left. We provide plenty of bedding to keep animals warm and in return, as their shelters move, the animals incorporate this “mulch” into the soil, adding more wealth for next season.

We’ve spent all summer doing everything we can to help our animals grow big and healthy and this transitional season is fraught with opportunities to lose the work we’ve done. It doesn’t take very long for an animal to shiver away all the muscle and fat they put on during the rich summer and early fall. At the same time, wet days followed by windy nights are perfect conditions for animals to develop respiratory diseases while slick ground and wet feet make the threat lameness very real.

Since one of us sees each animal twice a day (as we have for the entirety of their stay here), we know what is normal for them and what isn’t and we can catch problems before they develop. Our flexible grazing system means we can adjust space and shelter size to head off any problems as pasture richness wanes and group dynamics change for mating season. Within the same system, we are able to change our parameters and priorities to adapt to the changing season.


On the crop front, there is a shift from outdoor growing to indoor growing. We stop worrying about weeds, which have mostly given up at this point, and focus on getting the food out of the field and into storage. The heat-loving plants of the summer are out of the hoophouses and instead of using them to maintain a constant warm environment we plant them with greens and fall crops, managing for good ventilation and taking advantage of the sunny days and cold nights the plants love.

There is also a change in storage mentality. In the summer, all the produce in the walk-in turns over within a few days of harvest. Now, we are putting up the crops that will see us through winter and care must be taken in sorting and weekly checks, catching any sign of disease or decay and isolating it immediately.

So here’s to staying flexible and looking ahead, preserving the work of seasons past and preparing for the season to come!