We are at the tail end of some extreme temperature lows for the northern intermountain west where we live. Five days of below freezing high temps, and single digit low temps at night are both a blessing and a curse on our farm. The rabbit waters freeze within minutes of putting out, the chickens molt, and the row cover freezes to the ground which means no more greens for us until it thaws.
On the bright side, we anticipate these low, low temps to kill off some of the pests we have and in the last few years have had larger and larger populations of. Specifically the Green Soldier Bug or green stink bug (Chinavia hilare) which is a sucking insect that has some pretty detrimental effects on the cosmetic value of tomatoes, peas, beans and other more succulent crops. If populations are high, a significant portion of the crop can be affected. We estimate that nearly 30% of our tomato crop was damaged enough that we wouldn't sell the tomatoes. So as with lemons and lemonade, we made tomatoes into salsa.
This winter weather is giving us a chance to sit down and start planning for 2014. The seeds catalogs begin to roll in this time of year, so its easy to start dreaming. One of the important things that we do is to replay the year in our heads and talk about what felt good or what needs changing. We do this causally over coffee or while driving to/from family visits. Its easy to sit down with a notebook of details from the season, look at harvest records, seeding charts and organize thoughts based on that. But its also good to pick out what our feeling were over the season and make changes based on fact and feeling.