Winter on the Forstbauer Family Farm
Written by Lindsey Forstbauer, Farmer and CFMS Board member
Spring is finally here and it seems a good time to look back on the winter that has passed while we look forward to the summer season ahead. As farmers we are often asked what goes on around the farm in winter. The list seems endless: tidying up messes that are created at the height of the season and necessarily left until there is more time; burning brush piles when the dry heat finally ends and it’s safe to do so; performing routine maintenance on buildings and equipment in preparation for another growing season; plotting fields and greenhouses and ordering the seeds that will be put in them; pruning fruit trees to ensure a healthy summer crop. In addition to all these extra chores are the routine farm activities. Animals still need to be fed and watered, barns mucked out, and of course there are farmer’s markets to prepare for and attend each weekend.
This winter was particularly interesting. The heavy snowfalls that shut down communities all over the Lower Mainland simultaneously turned our farm into a winter wonderland of great beauty and made farm chores much more difficult. Having school cancelled so often meant the kids got to enjoy winter in a way they have missed out on until now. Lots of firewood, hot chocolate, jigsaw puzzles, books, and Netflix were consumed! The flip side is the work. A job that might take an hour on an ordinary day could easily take three or four times as long when fighting waist-deep drifts and driving snowfalls. Paths needed to be shoveled–often two or three times each day–in order to reach livestock to feed and care for them. Hoses froze, requiring water to be carried by hand to chickens and cows. Hay barns needed to be cleared of snow to access feed. Markets were cancelled, resulting in a loss of revenue, and that was a relief because it was impossible to harvest produce to sell anyway! The markets that did continue as scheduled were cold, cold, cold and required the use of tent skirting and space heaters. The “icing” on the cake was the ice storm; Mother Nature has provided us with a large supply of fallen trees and broken branches to deal with this spring! All in all the winter was both physically grueling and spiritually uplifting, and we will remember it for a lifetime.
Now that the weather has warmed and the sun shines (sometimes!) we are busy seeding, weeding, and of course preparing for those ever-present weekly markets. This is also the time to register for our 2017 markets as we anticipate another busy summer of harvest. The summer market season begins in May and we are looking forward to seeing all our customers soon. Because of the unusually cold weather a few things may be delayed, however the season is looking more like what we would expect in the Lower Mainland than the last couple of years have been so stick with us while we patiently wait for strawberries, salad greens, and radishes. And in the meantime enjoy last seasons’ potatoes and carrots, as well as over-wintered kale that is courageously growing as fast as it can!