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Bundled Up and Busy: Winter on the Farm

During the winter, Linden Hall Farm, an orchard and dairy farm in Washington County, bustles with activity. Things don’t slow down on the farm when the fields lay dormant and the temperatures turn colder. Instead, it becomes a hive of preparation for the seasons ahead. During these quieter months in the fields, Brian Forsythe’s focus shifts to taking care of the animals as well as the land to ensure it is ready to thrive. “Typically, we start prepping for the winter in late November to early December depending on the temperatures,” says Brian, a fourth-generation farmer whose relatives purchased the farm in 1875.

Because Linden Hall Farm has over 166 acres of crops as well as livestock, the work is widespread. It includes winter-proofing equipment, like making sure the water trough heaters are working so that the drinking water doesn’t freeze and giving any farming equipment a dose of antifreeze. The welfare of the farm’s 50 cows and 50 chickens brings on even greater significance taking special measures such as providing warm blankets for the calves, ensuring proper bedding, and administering vaccinations to prevent any seasonal health challenges.

“Not all our animals hate the snow. Most of our cows play in it for a few minutes then want back in the barn,” Brian says. “One of the oldest cows in our herd, turns into a calf again and could play in the snow for hours if we let her! Everything is frozen so we are at it non-stop, cleaning out and fixing up the barns to make sure our girls stay warm, happy and healthy in this frigid weather.”

The apple and peach orchards also have their own unique rhythm during winter. The trees, which are in a dormant state, undergo crucial pruning that sets the foundation for the upcoming growing season. “Typically, pruning fruit trees is a process that takes two to three months,” Brian says.

Even snow can be welcome. As it covers the land, snow provides moisture that slowly seeps into the soil to nourish it. Brian explains that the biggest challenge during snowy days is maneuvering vehicles in and out of the farm, “mainly the milk truck which comes in to pick up our cow’s milk every other day.”

Regardless of the challenging weather conditions, Brian and his family are determined to preserve the legacy of Linden Hall Farm to prepare it for future seasons — and generations.

Hungry for more? Read fascinating facts about cows. Find farmers markets open in the winter.

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