The harsh winter season has proven to be a mixed bag for farmers in the Fraser Valley.
“It sucked,” said dairy farmer Jeremy Wiebe, owner of Rosevale Farms in Chilliwack. “It creates a lot more work for the farm.”
Chilliwack had a particularly snowy winter, with more than 100 centimetres of the white stuff falling in just one week in February. That, totalled with the snowfall which began back in the first week of December, led to headaches for Wiebe.
“Just clearing the yards for the milk truck took hours and we have this huge long driveway,” he said, adding that while he was lucky to avoid damage, many farmers in the region were not.
“There were farms in Chilliwack that had some roofs collapse,” said Wiebe.
As a dairy farmer, he has non-insulated barns and managed to avoid the sky high costs for heating that some farmers endure.
Wiebe’s cows generate so much body heat that even when it’s -15 C, it’s a relatively balmy zero degrees inside the barns.
“The extra cost is in labour,” Wiebe said. “The water was frozen so now you’re running water lines across your farm.”
Both he and Langley farmer Marcel Sachse have watched their growing seasons shorten as a result of the long winter.
“It took a little longer for us to plant in the greenhouse [because] don’t have a heated greenhouse,” said Sachse of his Pinsch of Soil vegetable farm near the U.S. border.
“That was just this Monday that we went out to the fields.”
But while it was a late start, Sachse feels like he’ll do just fine this season.
“We already have carrots, peas, radishes, cabbages and kale. In the greenhouse we are growing different kinds of lettuces.”
Sasche was excited to take advantage of the farm’s hotbeds.
“It is basicaly just an outside box that [has] manure heated soil in the box,” said Sachse.
Wiebe, on the other hand, is concerned about the shorter hay growing season.
“[Grass] is just starting to green up now. It’s over a month behind,” Wiebe said.
”Farmers are going to be looking at their inventory and bringing in feed from Alberta or the north. No matter what, you have to feed your cows.”