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As the cool winds start blowing in from the North and the snow begins to fall in Knox County, the hustle and bustle of the fall harvest starts to slow and, for many, the farm becomes quieter, but no less time consuming. According to Ron Elliott, a Knox County dairy farmer, "In the winter time, why a lot of things go dormant for us... We go from a planting and harvesting situation to a maintenance, I would call it a maintenance type." Farmers are mostly involved in making sure the animals have enough feed, bedding, water and a clean environment, tasks they are not as involved with in the spring and summer when the animals are out to pasture.

barn in the snow

Some farmers in grain production often have the priviledge of spending their winters away from the farm, usually in warmer weather, as a result of the specialization of family farming in Knox County. As long as farmers do not have the responsibility of caring for animals, it is possible to take an extended winter vacation.

But for other farmers, the winter is just as busy as any other season. Farmers who rely on controlled environments are affected little by the harshness of winter and can, therefore, continue on with their daily routines, routines which change little throughout the year. However, for some farmers, winter is even a planting and growing season. It is the time when Kathy Hawk plants her hydroponic tomatoes, when the Browns collect their maple syrup and when winter wheat farmers watch their wheat grow.

a member of the 

Brown family collecting maple syrup from the trees

But it isn't until the warmth of spring hits that the planting and growth really begin on most of Knox County's family farms.

photo credits: Rachel Balkcom

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