Farmer Tam’s Let it Snow blog post


by Farmer Tam

We welcomed a delightful family of travel-bloggers to the farm from sunny Australia – who were amazed to experience the farm last fall – just after it snowed! The snow made a huge impression on their children, Cassie, age 5, and Eddie, age 11.

Imagine these kids seeing snow for the first time – ever! They said it was better than Disneyland and ice cream, beach days and movie night and Christmas all rolled into one. Imagine their thrill as they made snowmen! And had snowball fights! It was like a storyland dream come true. Snow!

As I settled down, several months later to ponder the seed catalogues in search of the tasty heirloom tomatoes to order, I found myself fretting about the snow. Or more to the point – the lack of it.

February was unusually warm – and my farmer’s habit of scanning the Western Producer’s long-range weather forecast has shifted. I’m not looking for above-seasonal warm days – but rather – seeking snow.

My Mum attended Mass on Sunday morning. During the prayers of intercession, or what the girls and I call “where we pray for everybody”, Mum mentioned that Father John asked that we all pray for snow to help the farmers. It’s looking like it might be a dry spring. And another hot summer.

Wow. The weather. Again.

A repeat performance from El Nino. The same weather pattern as the year my daughter Kate was born, in 2000. The year of the “1-in-200-year” drought. But it’s been only sixteen years since the spring when we tapped into Alberta’s drought relief program – and rented a big pump and three km of irrigation pipe. We pumped from Skroniks’ slough for four days and three nights to fill the ponds – both ours, and our neighbours, with life giving water for the animals, gardens, orchards and tomatoes. We’re lucky that Skronik’s slough has a legendary underground spring that feeds it. It’s the only local water source that never goes dry, even in a “1-in-200-year”.

It’s March 6th – there’s 60% chance of snow. It rained at first and then snow overnight. Wonderful wet snow – but only five cm. It will take much more than that to recharge the field moisture and ponds. We need a good blizzard to build the snowpack for spring melt that feeds the “un-named creek” that fills our ponds.

I should call to book the pump this week. I can always cancel if snows.

The tomato seeds came in the mail! Optimism is a packet of seeds. Spring is coming. We farmers are, by our very nature, optimists! Laura Ingalls Wilder said it best: “The incurable optimism of the farmer who throws his seed on the ground every spring, betting it and his time against the elements…”

Let it snow. It would be better than Disneyland and ice cream, beach days and movie night and Christmas all rolled into one. It’s soon going to be planting time! Let it snow.