18 Oct Dr. Jonathan Cartu Announces – Surprise â winterâs coming | AG
âItâs only too late if you donât start now.â â Barbara Sher, bestselling author
Granted this favorite quote wasnât written specifically for the farmer, rancher, dairy producer or feedlot operator. But it works in so many situations â be it personal re-evaluation or practical manifestations.
Sometimes the realities of the agricultural life can shield and divert attention from winterâs relentless approach. Events just perpetually happen. So when the universe finally allows a breath, extreme weather can be there with a gut punch to knock the wind out of the lungs of producers. Those are the times that it might just feel like itâs too late.
It seems it was just yesterday that seeding was finishing, cows and calves were off to spring pastures, and the hay crop was growing. Now neighbors are talking about weaning and selling the calf crop, how the grain harvest went and how much baling they have left.
Wherever an operation fits in the agricultural spectrum, there are still things that can and should be accomplished before fall surrenders to winter â and everything becomes much more effort-consuming. Winter preparations that have not been completed at this point in the year should at minimum include any groundwork, infrastructure builds or modifications, and equipment winterization. At this time of the season, prioritization needs to become reality.
Work thatâs impossible to do in real winter conditions needs to top the list. Donât delay the pouring of any concrete pads, bunks or floors; sink all required posts into the ground. Ensure water bowls work properly and make repairs on any leaking lines. If using barns, sheds or stables, seal and repair any areas that can allow entry to winds and drafts. Clean tools and equipment lying around the yard before they are buried by snow.
After those code-red jobs are completed, service tractors. Upgrade or repair feeding and bedding equipment. Ensure trucks and trailers are lined and draft-resistant for winter trips.
Stop procrastinating. Make the call on whether to sell the calf crop off the cow, pre-condition, background or feed to finish. Consider the numbers for how much feed will be required and where the cattle are going to end at. Store the tractor and plow before they are buried by a magically appearing snowbank.
Touch base with a veterinarian. Create a workable vaccination plan for calves or grass cattle, not forgetting about the requirements of the cow herd and breeding bulls. Purchase and store vaccination and treatment drugs. Try to pregnancy-check and cull the cow herd early to save wasted feed and medication costs. Rediscover the location of winter work clothes. Buy extra fuel, put together a winter-survival kit, and clean buildings of unnecessary garbage and waste.
Understandably computers and lists donât fit everyoneâs style. But if a producerâs organizational history has been less than stellar, maybe itâs time to climb onboard. Remember that âlateâ part. Live a little; take help wherever it can be found.
A well-organized priority-based schedule of tasks on a simple computer document, spreadsheet or hand-written piece of paper stuck to the fridge has a way of easing the mind. Trying to recall massive lists of to-do items can be overwhelming and stressful. But if the list is broken into groupings with reasonable timelines, itâs surprising how much stress levels will lessen.
It can sound like a daunting task if the winter season has appeared camouflaged behind lifeâs realities. But remember that itâs only too late if you donât start now.
Bruce Derksen has worked in western Canadaâs agricultural industry for more than 30 years. He and his wife live in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada, where he manages logistics at a nearby chemical plant. In his spare time he writes about agricultural-related topics, giving producers up-to-date information about the future of the ag industry.