This is the question I’m asked most often this time of the year.
Truthfully my ‘off season’ is two months of reviewing the past year’s successes and challenges, planning for the year ahead, marketing, reading, attending conferences and catching up on neglected relationships.
I dream of days spent lounging on a beach or traveling the world. But for now, while launching a new business, there isn’t much “off” in the off-season.
This isn’t the answer people want.
“I’ll do some traveling,” I lamely say. “Catch up with family. Sleep.”
Privately, in my months off, I think way too much about the delicate balance in farming. The balance of Feast or Famine.
I make my entire living in 8 months of the year. 65% of my income is earned over 4 months. A rainy August or a brutally hot July can cut my revenue by a third in those critical months. Flush ‘feast’ months are vital to surviving the winter ‘famine’ months.
Of course, this isn’t news to anyone, particularly farmers.
Farmers, it seems, always know where they stand, and can usually figure a way out of just about any problem.
How can we possibly grow vegetables longer into the winter? Start earlier in the spring? Have fewer famine months and more feast.
The “high tunnel”. A big, plastic layered tunnel, ventilated by roll-up sides and ridge-vents. The tunnel will provide 5 degrees of heat over the ambient winter temperatures. In the warmer months, the inside temperature will soar 20 additional degrees.
It will block the wind and keep out most animals.
The high tunnel means greens in winter. Fresh vegetables ready to pick during blustery March days. Tomatoes, red and ripe, in May.
This past week, after three days of construction, the Dug In farm season extended from 8 months to 10. Feast months hopefully became slightly less critical. Famines now fewer.
So, this January, in addition to planning for the new year, I’ll be seeding tomatoes and cucumbers. Okra and peppers. Picking greens, beets, turnips and cabbage.
And, of course, dreaming of a future with lazy days on a sandy beach and long meals with friends.