To say that 2016 was a “challenging” year, here at Harshell, would be an understatement. The drought that made the news in our region was devastating for the crops and prompted us to come up with a tag line … “2016…. the year of 100% expenses for 50% income”.
With the diversity of crops we grow, 9 in total, and the fact that our crops are grown on 9 different farms, one would think/hope that the drought impact would spare some fields. As it turns out, the lack of rain impacted all crops severely, and the rain station located at the end of our lane-way, supports that analysis. Not many people watch the weather as closely as farmers do, but many hours were spent staring at the app for the weather network on our phones, watching satellite images of rain storm fronts actually splitting and going around us. A few kilometres in any direction from our farms, might receive 2″ of rain, while we would receive scarcely a drop on many occasions. We have for sale, one barely used rain gage.
We should have known it was going to be a challenging year when we started out with a crop insurance claim for an 8 acre field of winter wheat which was completed destroyed by Canada Geese. The field, located along the Mississippi River, was the perfect breeding and feeding ground for several thousand geese in the early spring. The shear number of geese, feeding on the little wheat shoots, left the crop unable to get a good start and so, we had to write the wheat crop off. Sunflowers were planted into that field which provided a picturesque crop for those traversing the Mississippi River by water craft during summer 2016. The field was not visible from any roadway and so, the beauty was enjoyed by only a handful on the river, between Almonte and Blakeney, and by our family while sitting on our dock across the river from the sunflower field. It’s the little things that keep it real and an 8 acre field of gorgeous yellow blooms, is a spectacle to be appreciated always.
All the crops have now been harvested and this year it seemed to take a very long time to get the harvest done. We started with winter wheat and malting barley in August, canola, red clover, and millet in September, soybeans in October, and corn in November. We also harvested a bit of hay in July and September, as well as our sunflowers in November. Our sunflower crop, with one field on the river and one field visible along Martin Street North, was also disappointing as the local birds feasted on an “all you can eat buffet” before we were ready to harvest the seeds.
In preparation for 2017 we have 27 ares of winter rye and 56 acres of winter wheat already in the ground. Here’s hoping the Canada Geese head south and don’t come back until our rye and wheat get growing well in the spring of 2017. The crops are all tucked in, under a blanket of snow, as I type this page.
As always, we appreciate your visits and feedback. We do the work we do because we love it and we will be back in 2017, with an optimistic outlook and our ever popular road signs to keep you “Ag Aware” in the Almonte area.
Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season and much good fortune in 2017.
Harold and Shelley and family