Sustainable Farmers – Stewards of the Land . Chapter 10


Minnesota winter farming may require overall less tasks than summer, but every little thing is harder because of the cold.  Farming is a every day job.  There are no “snow days” regardless of weather. In fact, the more extreme the weather is, the more a farmer must do to protect their animals.

Our climate is changing, winters are becoming more fierce, and the animals out in it need continuous food to fight the cold.  Heated water is also critical since farm animals are eating things like hay, which is course and more difficult to digest than pasture.  Water aids in digestion and without it, hay or feed may get lodged in the digestive tract causing a number of illnesses, pain and sometimes death.

Cows, horses, and weak animals come into the barn to warm up.  The sheep have their winter thick winter coats.

Honeybees cluster in the winter.  They create a ball of bees in the middle of the hive body and continually shake creating warmth.  The center of the cluster is 90 degrees, this is where the omnipotent queen resides.  The bees shake to and from the center taking turns to be warm at the middle.  They eat the honey around them they’ve stored during the summer and fall months.  When it’s really cold, and windy, the bees may not be able to move away from the cluster to eat honey, starving just millimeters from their food.


At Philadelphia Biodynamic Farm, the grounds seem quiet on this sunny, winter day, but farmers are scheming for Spring. Chickens continue to lay eggs inside their coop.  The  cow is getting ready for a baby, and the cat keeps guard at the barn.  Inside the greenhouse, hundreds of pots are being seeded with a variety of vegetable plants.  These grow to seedlings alongside full grown tomatoes, greens, peas and other plants that produce all year long.

Barn kitty says “I can’t stand one more day of winter – be gone!”

Photography Tip: During winter, there’s lots of white.  Use a polarizing filter on the lens to help bring color up and brightness down. Be sure to manually compensate for the bright white of the snow, otherwise the program setting of a camera will underexpose everything else.  I shoot in manual on bright snowy days.

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