Crow’s Nest: That dreaded question, “So what do you do all winter?”

February 6, 2012


So, I was at a social gathering this weekend when I was asked that age-old question again, “What do you do all winter?”

Why, everything, of course. Except mow the lawns and trails.

I wrote about this in 2005 and mentioned the need for frozen ground in 2007 and 2008. Nothing’s changed of course but we seem to be busier than ever.

We schedule our monitoring of conservation easements for winter, when it is easier to see the land… I have 28 other properties to visit and report on each winter. We (re)post boundaries of our own lands as needed.

We update our survey of hazard trees along our road frontage, and cut down or prune those that are declining. We do invasive plant control: cutting vines and removing those plants that are so aggressive that they limit diversity on our preserves.

We hold kids’ programs here throughout the year, and we think it’s important for kids to be outdoors no matter what season.

This year, the storm damage from October’s storm took four weeks so far to clean up, so the projects scheduled for November we are still catching up on. There are still some trees that fell in our farm fields that we are cleaning up on those mornings when the ground is frozen enough to get the tractor or truck in to haul the chipper in, or the wood out.

Winter is when we mow our meadows: the plants are dormant and have provided cover so far this winter, but we want to get them cut back before the ground thaws for spring. We’re just starting them this week, and I see by reviewing past years’ notes that I’m a little behind already (the ground has not been frozen much so far this winter).

We’re doing major projects at other preserves, including restorations of Serpentine barrens at Willisbrook Preserve and the Unionville Barrens at ChesLen preserve.

Winter is when we schedule ourselves to do major maintenance on our equipment, and except for the tractor’s annual service we are currently up to date here.

Yes, we also try to do necessary paperwork in the winter. We’ve done a safety and equipment audit, updated the hazard tree database, and put together annual reports for our coordinator positions (mine is invasive plants). Some of us are also scheduled to give talks this spring (New Jersey and Pennsylvania Land Trust Alliance meetings) so now is when I need to get those presentations prepared.

There’s also building maintenance to perform, bluebird boxes to maintain or replace, and next fiscal year’s budget to draft. We have volunteers to train, and membership events to plan. We’re also planning our summer camp and hiring staff for it.

Just like any other time of year, there is far more work to do than there are hours in the day to complete it. We’re constantly prioritizing to ensure the most important projects get done, because we cannot do it all.