Nov. 2 2023 08:47 AM

We’re completing our last jobs before the chores of winter take over.

“One more round” is what I kept telling myself all week last week as we were finishing our final cutting of hay. We had a relatively good harvest season with enough corn and hay to get us to the next. The cows would be kept plenty full and comfortable throughout the winter and into next spring. We made it through the season with few to no injuries and only a few breakdowns. Overall, we were successful in several ways.

As I took the old John Deere 2440 and the orange Kuhn rake swiftly across the field, I looked up at the beautifully painted mountains. The bright reds, brilliant oranges, dusty yellows, and bold maroons painted the mountain in a beautiful fall blanket. The little ducks that were born a month prior are now the size of mini watermelons and waddle alongside their parents. The turkeys make their way carefully up the embankment to eat bugs and other feed in order to be plenty warm throughout the dismal winter. The young fawns have tripled in size and now bound through the woods by their mothers’ side. As I take in this glorious view, I am reminded that this is my fifth full year on the farm after college. It’s been a wild, crazy ride, but I’m still here.

With the ominous thoughts of all the winter work ahead of us, I just smile. As I drove the tractor in my t-shirt, I knew the t-shirt days were numbered. Soon, the weather would turn, and the hard work of keeping hay available for cattle and bedding in pens would begin. We’d spend countless hours hauling manure, moving cattle, bedding stalls, cleaning paddocks, and winterizing machinery and barns. Our heavy winter clothes would be on to keep us warm but also swallow us like marshmallows.

The long days are behind us, and the cold days are ahead of us. For now, we can smile and take pride in a job well done. As the rake and I glided across the field one more round, I was reminded of all the accomplishments regardless of the dry year. Stay safe folks.

Courtney Henderson

The author is a sixth-generation farmer and fifth-generation dairy producer in southwest Virginia, where she and her family own and operate a 145-head Holstein dairy. Courtney is involved in agriculture organizations throughout her community and is a graduate of Virginia Tech.