by Crystal England
"What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness." – John Steinbeck
Winter provides us with a new set of challenges and is often the hardest time on the ranch. 365 days a year, the animals must be kept warm and fed. When the pastures are covered in snow, the animals are hand fed in order to make sure they're getting enough food to build up fat to keep them warm. The water troughs must be constantly maintained to be sure they don't freeze. The shelters must all be winterized and the floors are lined with straw to provide an extra layer of warmth. The bedding that is most soiled must be cleaned out regularly and new straw added. The clean bedding provides insulation from the cold ground and provides a clean, cozy bed for the animals.
Another focus in the winter months is catching up on the maintenance projects that are put on the back burner during the busy months of summer. Between cleaning up the shop, the vehicles, and the freezers, there is no end to the work to be done. One neverending project is fencing. Our herds of animals seem to be always searching for greener pastures! Fences are a necessary part of keeping the animals safe and contained and keeping all the fences in good repair is a project no matter the time of year.
While the physical work maintains the focus, the winter months provide a great time to reflect on how far we've come and what our goals for the coming years are.
Tours of the ranch are available year round, though in the winter they are normally self-guided tours, and provide a fun and educational view of holistic land management in action. The scenery is breathtaking as the snow hangs on the trees and the pastures are covered in a blanket of white. It is a wonderful place to take a quiet and peaceful walk. Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the beauty of winter.