Another day, another month, another year—sometimes I wonder how it’s possible for time to fly by so fast. It seems like yesterday we were just transitioning into 2019, and yet here we are on the verge of 2020, about to bid the old year goodbye.
Will you welcome the new year with open arms? While some folks might be urging time to slow down a little (and I can certainly understand that!), I’m always excited to see what the new year has in store. The arrival of January means spring really isn’t far off, with another busy summer of farming projects soon to follow.
The transition from one year to the next is also the perfect time to make annual New Year’s farming resolutions. I’ve never been one to go about making formal, serious resolutions—my overarching resolution is simply to work hard and get things done, which covers a lot of territory—but for the last three years I’ve put together lists of farming resolutions for HobbyFarms.com, both to inspire myself and (hopefully) inspire readers.
Last year, the most important resolution on my list was to “slow down and savor the year.” While I can’t say that I particularly slowed down—2019 was kind of hectic!—I did savor the year. I made time to take walks, enjoy spring blossoms and appreciate autumn colors. I picked fruit every few days for two months during harvest season, and I successfully waited well into October for the grapes on an old vine to ripen into something semi-edible (they wound up somewhere between sour and tolerable).
The point isn’t to compile a list of farming resolutions that must be followed at any cost. It’s more to encourage proactive thinking about things you’d like to accomplish during the coming year.
To that end, here are a few of my New Year’s resolutions for 2020:
1. Plant More Trees
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” There’s wisdom in this old Chinese proverb, which I’ve taken to heart by planting a new orchard. Since 2018, I’ve planted 19 trees; mainly apples, but also plums, pears, a cherry and two Japanese lilac trees. Watching the trees blossom, grow and develop fruit was easily the highlight of 2019, and I plan to plant many more trees (including flowering crabapples) in 2020.
2. Tackle Woodworking Projects
To enhance the landscaping of my orchard, I plan to tackle a few significant woodworking projects in 2020. Primarily I want to build ornate, decorative gates for the deer fence I constructed over the summer—right now, the entrances are guarded by sections of welded wire that I can open and close as necessary. It’s effective, but not very attractive.
I also want to build a wooden bridge over a low spot in the orchard that tends to hold water during the spring and after heavy rains. I’ve already measured the dimensions of the area and have all the numbers I need to start construction. Perhaps I can get a head start before spring!
3. Try Out a Three-Point Quick Hitch
Attaching three-point implements to tractors is often a time-consuming task. It can be difficult to get rear blades and brush hog mowers in just the right position so all three points of the hitch fit into place. The struggle to attach implements can be frustrating on busy days.
I’ve never tried a three-point quick hitch, but having read about them and watched videos demonstrating their performance, I’m intrigued. This simple device installs on your tractor’s three-point hitch, making it possible to back up your tractor with the hydraulics lowered and attach any implement simply by raising the hydraulics and putting a few locks in place.
It certainly looks easy in the videos, and while I understand there are some shortcomings (quick hitches don’t work with every implement), I’m tempted to try one out in 2020 and see if it speeds up attaching and removing implements.
4. Improve Driveway Water Drainage
A few years back, a road improvement project significantly raised the grade of the road running across the front of my farm. The result has been a shift in the drainage of water in the area—it now puddles at the end of my driveway.
Attempts to fill the low spot of my driveway have met with mixed results, so I’ll take a different approach in 2020. By removing just a little sod on either side of my driveway, I should be able to convince the puddles to flow into the existing drainage ditches that run along the road, putting an end to this muddy mess. My grandfather—always fond of rerouting driveway puddles—would be proud.
Happy New Year!