The days are getting shorter, we’ve had a couple of frosty mornings, and the leaves have nearly all gone from trees. Winter has come! I asked some of the people attending the Midwinter Market what winter means to them and their work?
For the FIG Tree the winter means Christmas and a time to increase the making and selling of their fairly traded bean to bar chocolate!
Sharon from Cockerham Boers answered: The winter is a hard time in farming because there is quite a lot more hours per day of hard work whilst there are also less hours to the day to get it all done in. However it is also a time of year where you actually have closer daily contact with the livestock and it is always nice to be properly interacting with them. During the winter our goats have free access to shelter in the form of buildings and field shelters. They come and go as they please but generally choose to be out in the day and inside at night or if the weather is very wet. In addition to their grazing they have a permanent supply of forage in the form of hay or haylage – it takes more hours per day to ensure everyone is fed and bedded properly during winter. Also, we have “tupping season” in early winter. This is the time when the males run with the females to create the next generation – which will be born during the spring. They all need to be in the peak of health and fitness, so we watch the goats very closely at this time of year.”
For Owen Jones, a local oak swill basket maker, from mid-December until mid-March he enjoys the dormant few months out in the woods coppicing on dry days and spending time inside making orders on wet days. Owen commented: “I much prefer the bare, brown winter landscape with the skeletal forms of the trees. I like the dormancy of the land and the starry skies and the weekends in the garden, the break from shows. Basically I like winters!”
For Claver Hill winter is a time for growing winter crops and preparing no-dig beds. Winter also encourages reflection, with the group’s members reviewing what has grown well over the past year in order to plan for next year!
Biza Baker makes the most of seasonal produce in the autumn and winter: “We can bake products using seasonal ingredients such as pumpkins, apples, nuts, pears…The special part of the winter is Christmas Time for us.”