Adam Henson on some of the tasks that are done around the farm during the winter months

PUBLISHED: 12:12 09 January 2013 | UPDATED: 22:36 20 February 2013

Adam Henson on some of the tasks that are done around the farm during the winter months

Adam Henson on some of the tasks that are done around the farm during the winter months

Adam Henson on some of the tasks that are done around the farm during the winter months

The decorations have been packed away, the mistletoes been taken down and the Christmas tree has been recycled. The cold, dark days of January can seem pretty bleak after all the festive fun and youd be forgiven for thinking that life on the farm comes to a halt in the depths of mid-winter. Of course things arent nearly as busy as they are in springtime or as hectic as harvest, but theres still plenty of hard work to be done.

Whether you rear livestock or grow crops, successful farming relies on understanding the seasons and knowing what to do and when it needs to be done. The winter months are the ideal time to carry out big jobs like routine maintenance, building repairs and painting work. I think of it as laying the foundations for the coming 12 months; sometimes literally.

On the land theres plenty to keep us occupied. Coppicing is a traditional way of managing trees and hedgerows by cutting them down to the stumps. Hazel, beech, ash and oak are all coppiced and not only does it save having to replant but coppiced woodland rarely dies of old age. At least, thats what they say.

Its a tried and tested way of promoting new growth but its only practical when the leaves have fallen and you can get to the trunks and stems with an axe, or more commonly, a chainsaw. It also means a plentiful supply of material for thatching, willow-working, furniture-making and charcoal burning. The lack of foliage also means this is the perfect time for pruning and perhaps some crop spraying in the fields to prevent disease in the important months to come.

The summer of 2012 was a washout by anybodys standard and many farmers, especially in the southern counties and the English Midlands, were hit again by the torrential downpours and floods at the end of November.

So attention has turned to field drainage, flood defences, gutters and gullies. Long before Christmas we dug up our yard and cleared all the underground drains and soakaways. Its inconvenient, time-consuming and costly but with predictions of wetter, warmer seasons to come I see it as an insurance policy for the future.

Traditionally farm attractions close in the autumn with the rare breeds and all the other animals cared for away from the public gaze. But things have been different for me this year because for the first time in the 41 year history of our farm park, we reopened in November right through until Christmas Eve. Its been wonderful to welcome old friends and familiar faces at such a magical time of year and already were counting the weeks until the gates open again for the 2013 season.

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