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Farm off-season

Burley—This is what most of America thinks farmers do in the off-season, a multi-week vacation on a tropical beach. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Meet Farmer Mitchell Searle from Burley. He’s spent the winter working sunup to sundown in freezing temps often 7 days a week.

“This time of year I need heavy overalls, hats, gloves, ski masks just to get outside,” he laughs. There’s an impression that farmers spend the offseason on an extended vacation.

“Well, I guess the rich ones probably do,” chuckles Searle. “But for any young farmer/rancher you got to hustle. When you get established that's your reward but there’s a lot of sacrifices before that nobody knows about,” said Searle.

In a shop, just a few degrees warmer than outside, the wind nearly drowns out the shop noise inside. Searle and his brother Chad are tearing down a wheel-line driver used in sprinkler irrigation.

“It's probably 30-40 years old, we have some that are 50 years old. The main gear was worn out and so we got that replaced,” added Searle. From there its off and running to the next project.

Searle has to check on one of the farm’s six potato cellars. “It's a daily chore, managing the potato cellars, you got to be in there inspecting them. Making sure the temperature is just right. When buyers come and get the potatoes, not only do we help but often have to pull the semi-trucks out of the mud,” said Searle.

The cellar has no issues, and from there is back to a maintenance shed to work on spud harvesting equipment. “We run 36inch spud rows, and we go through them in the winter, we tear out the primaries, work one roller, put new clips and bearings and we go through them, we have a maintenance program and it takes up a lot of wintertimes,” said Searle.

There are land improvement projects to do depending on snowfall, rocks are picked and hauled off, fields leveled, new land broken and on this day, old and dying trees knocked down.

Off-season vacations are still something of a fantasy to Searle and all the family members and hired hands on the farm. “Maybe one day, but we got too much do and not enough hours in the day to get it done,” sighed Searle.