The new year is here and it is a white one. Looks like we'll have a lot more snow than last year. I don't mind, I mainly hibernate this time of year - cooking, cleaning, book work and just trying to slow down a bit. Jim grumbles about having to plow it; I think the fresh air is good for him.
Last year was a year of change and challenge.
- Dan and James ventured into new territory with Dan developing a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) enterprise and joining the Markham and Whitby Farmers Markets and James joining the Oshawa Farmers Market. The connections they made and experience gained has been immense. Jim grew a larger selection of crops to supply them and both participated in the harvest. We built a new cooler here in Greenbank to accommodate their produce and ours.
- Our market here in Greenbank is looking great. Gillian, our long term Greenbank employee, appreciated the protection from the weather. We were able to remain open daily during strawberry season with fresh picked and weather permitting pick your own berries. We will continue to experiment with being open after strawberry season and build up our farm market business at this location.
- The warm winter and spring then late freeze in April played havoc with the Ontario apple and tree fruit growers making crop shortages the norm for the season. We ventured further afield, met a new apple grower in Norfolk county who had apples and having a good experience with him will most likely continue to have him supply our apples next year.
- Our dry, sunny summer didn't affect the pumpkin crop - ours was great - it did make for a lot of weed and insect invasions. It seemed all summer we were trying to find our crops among the weeds. The weeds just kept coming. Rainfall varied throughout the province, our area thankfully had enough.
- Grain and hay prices shot up because of shortages throughout North America due to the dryness and some areas an extensive drought. This affected us in the cost of animal feed and you may have noticed it reflected in the cost of our chickens and turkeys.
- It was the rainy fall that really affected us. With only 5 days in October with no rain our harvest festival days and school tours were damp. The sunny days were welcomed by all and activity on the farm was busy then.
- Hurricane Sandi in late October blew down our roadside sign, time to refresh it. Otherwise the wind, cold and rain from it just delayed school groups and dampened the last days of October. We're thankful that was all we experienced with the storm. Tim, a former employee. was called down to New York to assist in the cleanup. The devastation from the storm was immense, it seems recovery will take years.
- December was fun - thanks to the hard work of John and Laura and the participation of our staff we took part in the Stouffville and Unionville Christmas parades. A new experience for most of us. Thanks to these communities for accepting and supporting us.
- Our soil's water level has fully recovered from the summer dryness. The rain in December topped it up. We know because of our wet basement. The joys of older homes.
The season can be summed up in an appropriate statement from one of our cohorts who grows apples. " It is a challenge to have a business with Mother Nature as a partner. "
Farming is a next years business. We're re-energizing, reflecting and reworking things. Always optimistic about the future, we look back appreciating our customers support for us and the boys, and look forward to a exciting and challenging new season.
We wish you all the best for the new year. See you in the spring.