Winter at Kroul Farms


While Iowa’s long winters may make us want to hibernate, we spend much of the season dancing between past, current and future duties. In January and February, we maintain our facilities and fix equipment that took a beating during the growing months. We also have to evaluate the last year's life cycle so we can make informed decisions for the coming year. Additionally, we’re still jostling the daily tasks of caring for our livestock and producing firewood.

Here’s a look at how we do it.

Firewood

We have extra time during the season to cut firewood from naturally fallen trees we find on our 600 acres of timber. The wood is fuel for our restaurant partners, but it also helps many of our customers heat their homes or supplement their central heating systems through Iowa’s brutal winter months. Not only do we sell our firewood directly to customers by the bundle and truckload, but we also keep Cedar Rapids and Marion Kwik Star and Fareway stores stocked with bundles. The Iowa City and Coralville Hy-Vee stores also sell our bundles.

During a typical winter, we produce more than 300 cords of firewood, or stacks about four feet wide and high and about eight feet long. This year, we’re thrilled to have a new processor to keep the firewood stacks high! 

Chickens

   

Our Rhode Island Red chickens produce golden brown eggs throughout the year that we sell outside our shop. We have to take extra care in the winter to ensure the hens are toasty warm, starting by making sure their coop is sufficiently insulated before winter sets in. We also regularly check that their bedding is dry and properly placed in the nesting boxes and on the coop floor. Because hydration is critical for egg production, our team checks the chickens’ water daily to make sure it doesn’t freeze.

We do our best to provide farm fresh eggs that our customers know are raised with great care. If we maintain proper living conditions and give our chickens a consistent supply of nutrients, they seem to produce more — and tastier — eggs for a long period of time. Our mission is to produce quality products, which is why our chickens eat antibiotic-free feed and snack on fresh produce throughout the summer. We welcome recycled egg cartons that we can use to package our eggs.

Cattle

    

Though they have thick cowhide, we make sure our cattle have shelter from the wind and a dry spot to lay during winter’s constantly changing weather conditions. However, that doesn’t always mean that the barn is the best option. If livestock have to cram into a space, they could start sweating, leading to sickness and pneumonia-like symptoms. We prevent this by providing our cattle with plenty of space and a hefty amount of dry bedding. If they have dry bedding and a windbreak, cattle can withstand exceedingly cold conditions.

Extra feed also is key during the winter. They consume more hay and silage during extended bouts of cold weather because they burn more calories to keep themselves warm. We closely monitor their intake during extreme cold snaps to make sure they have the right fuel to keep warm.

Early March brings the calving season, and our team is typically up at all hours to make sure the cows are delivering properly and the calves are healthy. We always have a couple early poppers, but most of our calves are born in March and early April. Once delivered, we make sure the calves get to their feet, dry off and take their first drink from their mothers.

By late February, we’re already back in the greenhouses preparing for spring. Check back next month for a sneak peek into the growing season.


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