Winter is here, but there are some signs of spring
By Jay Reesor
For me, winters just don’t seem as long as they used to be. Getting older seems to make time go faster, so even winters go by more quickly than when I was younger. My feeling of getting older and time going quickly may have something to do with the fact that I can no longer sing the Beatles song “When I’m 64” as if it is in the future.
Even though, according to the calendar we are just over one month into the start of winter, spring doesn’t seem too far away. With seed catalogues coming in and seed salesmen and farm supply people calling – that’s a sign of spring for me!
And isn’t it awesome how the days are getting just a little bit longer? How encouraging! Until spring comes, I’m doing my best to enjoy this season and enjoy living each season as it comes. Spring will come and it will no longer just be something to look forward to.
While we are enjoying this winter season, why not take some time to plan how you can perhaps grow a little bit more of your own food this year. Because, as I always say, the best food is the food you grow yourself.
As is our tradition in the fall, our farm market closes the first Saturday after Hallowe’en. I am really glad that we have chosen that date to close because this year, November’s weather was, well, less than ideal! The combination of some very cold, sometimes snowy, sometimes wet and almost always grey weather has made it difficult to get fall work done. Everything from getting the straw on the strawberries to getting everything stowed away for the winter was challenging.
And for my neighbours, who have crops still in the field waiting to be harvested, this fall’s weather has being very frustrating. I’m hoping that the brunt of winter can hold off until at least Christmas.
Looking back, it was a great farming season with excellent crops of strawberries, sweet corn, pumpkins and squash. Sure, a couple of our minor crops were a little disappointing, but there’s always next year. We’re always thankful for our wonderful customers stopping by regularly to support us.
At this point, southern Ontario is fortunate to have fairly steady and consistent weather patterns, favourable to growing good crops. I am very grateful for good soil and reasonable weather to grow our crops. I’m also grateful for amazing people with whom to work helping us to grow good food. Not everyone in our world has this privilege!
Mid-December is a very quiet a time around the farm compared to any other time of the year. Sure, there are some things to do in the farm workshop and a few details to take care of at my farm desk, but with the last jobs in the field complete, it’s time for a change of pace. I am looking forward to doing those jobs in the shop and thinking and preparing for next season.
It is remarkable though how quickly another farm season comes around because in about two and a half months it will be time to frost seed the wheat field with red clover seeds to follow the wheat crop. And every year many farmers tap their maple trees in February. But in the meantime I am looking forward to the Christmas season with my family and enjoying the slower pace that winter provides me as a farmer. Wishing everybody a wonderful holiday season!
From young to old most everyone appreciates receiving flowers, but it’s in the wintertime that flowers really bring a smile to your recipient’s face and bring life and freshness to your home. Keep checking at Reesor’s throughout December for cut flowers, seasonal centrepieces, potted outdoor urns, poinsettias and potted plants.
The other day I was taking an inventory in our town market’s produce section of all of the things grown here in Ontario. The list is really quite long including leeks, mushrooms, fabulous sweet carrots, potatoes, English cucumbers, sweet potatoes, two kinds of onions, parsnips, beets and cabbage.
The Ontario fruit selection is more limited with several varieties of apples, but they are incredibly delicious. Have you tried the amazing crisp, sweet Red Prince apples? There are also the jarred peaches, pears and raspberries that the Brubachers preserved for us last summer.
Recently in our home, we’ve been enjoying Ontario carrots and parsnips chopped in one inch chunks tossed with olive oil, herbs and roasted. They are delectable! So, it is possible to enjoy lots of local, Ontario grown food even in the middle of winter. This helps keep Ontario farmers in business and food miles limited.
Have youfound your own amazing, local food winter recipe yet?
At this time of year many of us are already very tired of winter. Perhaps this winter especially, with the extremely cold temperatures and then the awful ice storm and power outages. Unless we are skiers or snowshoe enthusiasts, what is winter good for?
Well on the farm, winter is good for something! Those very cold temperatures help to destroy plant disease organisms as well as make life very difficult for overwintering insects. Although we obviously cannot be growing things year-round in the fields of southern Ontario, winter is indeed good for something.
But winter won’t be here forever and there are a few signs of spring out here on the farm. The first sign of course is the longer days. Hurray! The second is the calendar. Because in a few days it will be February and that means time for the maple syrup producers to tap their trees. Now that is a sign of spring for sure and then soon we won’t have to think about winter for a long, long time!