What is in this article?:
- The pressure is off for European farmers in winter — but the work doesn’t stop. Winter-proofing equipment, minding accounts, making marketing decisions, planning for planting — all remain at the forefront of agriculture.
With all these activities to keep farmers on their toes in winter, the question lingers: Does the farmer’s winter leave room for romantic fire place moments? What about winter wonderland feelings? Isn’t winter the time for friends, parties and family? The answers are yes, yes – and yes. All of these things have a place in their lives.
Pau Salze from Spain loves skiing, Oleg Malyarenko from Ukraine goes hunting in winter, and Jochen Weibeler from Cologne romps in the snow with his two little children, teaching them how to ski. Particularly the Christmas break is a time for encounters with friends, family outings and celebrations.
“In summer, the family takes second place,” says Jochen Weibeler. “There are many weekends, when either plant protection or harvest will keep us busy. In winter, when we get home on schedule, we have time for our families.”
In the starting blocks: ready, steady …
Once the darkest time of the year is over, when days are beginning to get just a little longer, farmers will get itchy and impatient to get out. Even though it is too early to work in the field, they keep themselves busy by getting the equipment ready for spring – taking care of lubrication and maintenance, and replacing spare parts.
First out in the field in the new year is of course Pau Salze Trepat in the warmer climate of Spain. As early as January, shortly before the winter cereals wake up, he supplies the little plants with nutrients. Then he prepares the neighboring fields for sowing. First he loosens the soil, and then he prepares a smooth seedbed for the summer cereals. Everything is set for spring in Lleida.
In early February, Jochen Weibeler in Cologne can also start working outside. It is still cold and wet, but this is the time to plant early potatoes. Late in February, the winter in Ukraine finally shows first signs of weakening. There is a little surface thawing during the day and here too, the winter wheat receives its fertilizer nutrition.
A little later, when the first rays of sunshine make the oilseed rape grow in Cologne, when the birds are coming back to Ukraine from the south, and when the almond trees burst into a sea of flowers in Spain, they all know they have made it: Winter is finally over – 14-hour days are back.