FarmLife FIVE: Winter

Quick cuts about life on the land. This issue: True snowbirds, century-old vacation advice for farmers and extremely valid reasons to ask the question on everyone’s mind: “Cold enough for ya?”

By Amy Bickers | Photos By Jamie Cole

Winter on the farm can be nice, but it's good to get away to farm shows, too.

Winter on the farm can be nice, but it’s good to get away to farm shows, too.

BIRD WATCHERS. And you thought your drive from Nebraska to Florida was long. Red knots and white-rumped sandpipers are just two species that travel from nests in the arctic tundra of northernmost Canada and fly as far south as the southernmost part of South America, a one-way distance of up to 10,000 miles.

SOUTHERLY MIGRATION. In 2009, Canadians made more than 1.2 million winter visits to Mexico, 2.6 million visits to Florida and 1.23 million visits to California. In the first three months of 2011, 5.1 million U.S. citizens flew down to Mexico. From January to March 2012, more than 19.7 million Americans flocked to Florida’s mild winter climate.

MARITAL ADVICE. “Every Dairyman Should Take a Vacation,” advised the cover of Kimball’s Dairy Farmer in 1911. “The farmer’s vacation should include other(s). The wife who has been struggling through the entire year with her tasks, that oftentimes seem hopelessly burdensome, should share in the recreation pleasures.”

MEET AND GREET. Winter travel for farmers doesn’t always mean sand and sun. ‘Tis the season when many agricultural organizations hold annual conferences. For instance, the 2013 AG Connect Expo & Summit was held in Kansas City, Jan. 29–31; the average daily temperatures in the Paris of the Plains range from 22°F to 39°F (-5.5°C to 16°C). Inside AG Connect, however, the temp as well as the mood was warm and hospitable, with plenty of industry-leading innovations on display to take your mind off all that sand that’s not in your shorts. Check this list for more farm shows still to come this winter, as well as the rest of this year.

WEATHER FORECAST. The top three largest farming provinces in Canada—Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan—have annual average low temperatures in January of, respectively, -10°C (14°F), -15°C (5°F) and -21°C (-5.8°F).