It's normal to find Norman Koch working in his apple orchard just south of Le Mars this time of year.
He's usually doing a lot of pruning.
The orchard's 350 trees, full of 33 apple varieties, have been keeping him busy since the '70's.
"When there's work to be done, I'm there," said Koch. "That's about it!"
But 2012 wasn't a normal year.
"For me it was a vacation," said Koch.
An early bloom and a late frost knocked out most of his bushels during the first part of April.
"They can't take that," said Koch. "They couldn't take that."
After the frost the drought took care of what was left.
Norman says he didn't have a crop at all that year.
"I had to mow under a tree down over there and I got bumped in the head by one apple," said Koch.
But now Norman's taking advantage of his free time.
He actually started pruning in August, making sure the trees don't get too dense in the "off" season.
Usually because of the apples, he can't start that work until February.
He's doing the pruning now, just hoping "Mother Nature" will do the rest during the spring.
If you know someone who's proud to be a hometown farmer, please e-mail Jake at: email@example.com.