Farmers getting ready for winter

With October two-thirds over and winter fast approaching, farmers in the district are battening down the hatches.
Gary Sliworsky, ag and rural rep with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs office in Emo, said people are busy tying up loose ends before the snow sets in.
“They’re weaning calves, cleaning up, maybe getting the last few bales off the field,” he said. “Maybe get some last-minute plowing done.”
“There’s less winter wheat [going in] this year than past years,” he noted. “Last week I was in Manitoba and they’re going to beat the band to get it in.”
Meanwhile, low water levels remain a concern for some in the district, depending on where they live. In the Rainy River area, for instance, Sliworsky said some farmers are claiming they have as much water as they did last year.
It’s as you move east that things start to dry up, which Sliworsky said is evident by the low water level in the river at Emo. He noted rainfalls of one to two inches a day would help greatly towards reestablishing groundwater supplies in the district.
But that rain has to remain slow and steady, he warned, noting once the rain starts to get above two inches of accumulation each day, the result is a lot of run-off with very little going into the ground.
“This rain may make a difference,” he said. “It depends how much we get.”
“I would say everyone is thankful we have had rain,” echoed Kim Desserre, president of the Rainy River Federation of Agriculture. “It’s moisture that’s badly needed in the district.”
Desserre said rainfall this summer was spotty, adding it “never seemed to be consistent,” with one farm getting an inch while another just a few miles away got nothing.
But the dry summer here was nothing compared to the conditions farmers faced in southern Ontario, which experienced widespread drought.
“I don’t think anybody here is looking at the major losses like down there,” Desserre said.
Still, the dry summer has taken its toll on fall pasture in this area this year, with many farmers already feeding their livestock hay.
“Even this rain isn’t helping your pasture,” Sliworsky said. “That time has passed.”
On the other hand, feed supplies across the district are looking pretty good, he added, even with predictions of “La Nina” bringing a long, cold, and snowy winter.
“Generally, what I’ve heard is people have enough,” Sliworsky said. “Everybody knows we got off easy last [winter] and are preparing for worse-than-normal this year.
“They’re getting ready for winter,” he remarked.