Dairy farmers with cows to milk are busy every day of the year.
Other farmers - those who grow fruits, vegetables and other crops - may have a different schedule during the cold winter months, but they aren't sitting around watching soaps on TV, joked Mark O'Neill, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau spokesman.
"In the fruit business, there is not a true off-season. This is an important time of year for us as fruit growers," said Jason Coopey, co-owner of Way Fruit Farm on Route 550 near Port Matilda.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
At Laverne’s Produce Supply in Martinsburg, owner Laverne Nolt checks the progress of his sweet onion sprouts in his greenhouse.
Way Fruit Farm takes its products to an indoor farmers market in Boalsburg on Tuesdays and operates its farm store every day but Sunday.
"We are sorting and selling apples. People are on their New Year's weight-loss kick, and we sell a lot of apples in January," he said.
Winter is also the time for tree maintenance. Coopey said apple trees are trimmed starting after Thanksgiving and going until mid-March. After the apple trees are trimmed, peach trees are next on the list, he said.
Along with tree maintenance, farmers use the winter season to maintain and repair equipment.
"We have a shop and pull in the things that need repaired, the wagons and other machinery. We are fixing up some of the things in the greenhouse. We make repairs on everything from the lights, fans and water lines," said Donna Leidig, one of the owners of Leidig's Farms on Route 550 near Warriors Mark. The farm includes 15 greenhouses.
Bill Hoover, an owner of B&D Acres on Huntingdon Furnace Road in Warriors Mark Township, agreed.
"January and February involves equipment maintenance. We don't have time to do that during the season. We disassemble the equipment and make repairs," said Hoover, who grows corn, wheat and soybeans.
Laverne Nolt, owner of Laverne's Produce Supply on Henrietta Road in North Woodbury Township, said during his downtime in November and December, he holds a part-time job hauling liquid manure for Kulp Family Dairy.
Nolt, who operates a greenhouse and produce business, gets busy around the middle of January.
"We start seeding onions for the next growing season. In the middle of February, we are running full tilt," Nolt said. "We get the onion crops planted by the second week of April. The peppers, cantaloupes and watermelons get planted around the second or third week of May."
Other farmers use the winter months for educational purposes.
"During the winter, we go to a lot of agricultural meetings for the farmers to get updated on new supplies and meetings to learn about new plants and things," said Leidig.
Hoover said he also attends local and national meetings and seminars to keep up with new ways to grow crops.
"I just attended the National No-Til Conference in St. Louis," said Hoover. "I go to the farm show and a show at the York Fairgrounds to look at the new equipment and decide whether it is time to upgrade the equipment.
Planting also begins in January, said Leidig.
"We plant seeds for vegetables, marigolds, impatiens and annual plants and some perennial plants usually around the end of January and the first part of February. Then we start to get hanging baskets ready for spring," Leidig said.
Hoover said he gets busier closer to spring.
"Toward the end of March, we started to spread fertilizer. We really gear up at the end of April," Hoover said.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.