Screen time, rust, and little teeny tiny paper envelopes
"So...what do you do in the winter?!" It's such a popular question that we get it year round. Generally the answer is catch up on everything we can't do outside. Make our annual budget, build a crop plan for the year, review the previous season, make notes, order seeds and fix equipment.
But there's also a more nebulous activity, where we dream about next season. A season where in our heads, everything works out perfectly. We get .80 inches of rain every Sunday evening, followed by 6 days of moderate sunshine and warm (but not too warm) temperatures. All the tractors run like swiss watches, and all the vegetables are immaculate and uniform, and leap out of the ground into our harvest bins. Where the bugs are too lazy to bother our little plants, and we plant everything on time. But this is not how things shake out in the real world. And to navigate that unknown territory between how we imagine the farm season and how it plays out in the real world, that's the actual purpose of all of this winter work.
That means the flip side of the Dream of the Perfect Season is the intentional plan for things to go wrong. A lot of farmers will tell you that farming is all about managing risks. Water, weather, bugs, machinery breakdowns, market fluctuations, plant diseases, it all has to be accounted for. Right now we're deep into planning territory, drawing maps of where we're going and where we've been. Plotting out new ideas, seeking out and mending potential weak points. We sit in front of the computer editing budgets and crop plans, work in the shop tuning up equipment, and sit on the floor in the living room, surrounded by little paper envelopes of seeds. The whole farm season spread out in front of us.