Winter can be a time of reflection, especially when you are a farmer. When the ground is covered in snow or so wet that it cannot be worked, you must look to other things.

We had a lot of snow this year in Virginia. The soil could not be worked until early March. I have learned an added benefit of no-till farming: you can plant much earlier in the year. Because of this I am going to expand our no-till zone. I have been planting there since early February.

Most of the trees on my farm are American beech. The Pioneers believed beech was an indicator of fertile soil. I have been marveling at the wildlife activity in and amongst these trees. Rufus sided towhee, northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, and hairy woodpeckers all enjoy the beech nuts.

Earlier in the year large flocks of grackles congregated in the branches.

The pileated woodpecker prefers the berries in the Virginia cedar trees.

Birds are skittish by nature. When I go to my window to observe them, they scatter. I guess it’s a survival mechanism.

During the cold short days I spent a lot of time planning for spring. I took inventory of my seed library. This was useful because it saved me quite a lot of money. Also planned the spring farm using an Excel spreadsheet containing historical data about my use of the soil.