Seasonal Cycles

Although family farms of Knox County have their daily routines, there are definite seasonal cycles which affect life on the family farm. From the spring to the summer to the fall to the winter, farmers in Knox County adjust many of their daily routines. But, as Ron Elliott, a dairy farmer from Gambier, expressed, all of the seasons are interconnected. "After we've taken the blunt and the blow of the winter and all, why it's a time of creation and a time of regeneration. I think we couldn't go from the spring to fall without the summer because the summer is the heat and the timely rains and all. That's what makes the crop and gets you all ready for storing things up for a long, hard winter."

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Increasingly, though, the seasonal cycles are being overcome by many Knox County farmers. Controlled environments for both livestock and crops, including temperature control and the introduction of predator-type combatants, have allowed farmers to move from seasonal to year round production. Don and Janet Hawk of Danville have been able to do this in their turkey and hydroponic tomato operation. Both the turkeys and the tomatoes are raised in indoor, controlled environments which allow for year round or extended production. The tomatoes are available thirty-five weeks out of the year, extended from just sixteen, whereas the turkeys are available year round. Don Hawk states, "At the beginning, when we first started, we were strictly seasonal producers- we didn't have turkeys inside, for instance. Everything was grown out. And so by Thanksgiving time you were all done with your turkeys, you might as well say. And we'd start back up, to be ready to go, by the first of May. Since about 1971 we went into a year round production and we've been [that way] ever since."
Even within these controlled environments, Mother Nature continues to have ultimate control. As Don Hawk explains, "sometimes they'll be challenges just like a weather change right now. It will cause a stress challenge. So, the tempurature hasn't changed a lot in the building but the birds sense when there's big climatic changes coming." Janet Hawk goes on to state that her hydroponic tomatoes, which grow within a greenhouse, are also very dependent on the natural environment, primarily sunlight and natural heat, and without the natural resources the tomatoes would suffer. It is for these reasons that seasonal cycles are such a constant and important part of family farming.

The Hawk's hydroponic tomatoes

photo credit: Don Hawk

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