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Winter no vacation for farmers

What do farmers do during the winter? Well, there’s fishing, hunting and going to Disney World.
“That’s it. End of story,” said Alan Davis, the son in Davis and Son Orchard.
He’s joking of course, but some people really believe it.
“They really do think that we do nothing in winter time,” he said.
In reality, a farmer’s life in winter is far from leisurely.
First and foremost for Davis, his apple trees still need tending. That means he’s out in the fields trimming, pruning and getting “everything ready for the next crop.” It’s important to train the trees how to properly grow limbs.
“If you leave them, they get so gnarly, just forget it,” Davis said.
Winter work in the apple orchards is taken on by Davis, his father and two employees.
Besides pruning, they have to plant new trees and clean up around the orchard.
Another major winter-time responsibility is upkeep on all the farm machinery, which has to be in tip top shape before the growing season begins.
Winter is also the time Davis catches up on everything else in his life including house projects and family vacations.
But Davis admits that working on a farm during the winter is nothing compared to the summer season when he’s out in the fields sun up to sun down. In fact, January and February are his least busy months.
Things become more hectic in March. By April it’s time to really buckle down. Following that “it’s wide open.”
A farmer’s schedule may seem odd to anyone used to a 9 to 5 job, but Davis wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I like the lifestyle,” he said. “We’re not rich by any means, but I make a good enough living.”
Being self-employed has both its bonuses and not-so-good features. Davis can take vacation whenever he chooses, but he also has trouble leaving work at work.
It can even be difficult taking a long weekend.
“If I try to hunt around here, I’m sitting in the tree thinking ‘Gosh I need to do such and such,’” said Davis.
It’s a mentality common to many farmers.
“Because you’re trying to make your business thrive, and you’re trying to do the best you can with it,” said Davis.
And all those people who think self-employed farmers don’t do much work — especially during the winter? He pays them no mind.
“Really, you work a whole lot more than the average person,” he said.
by Sarah Grano

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