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What does the winter look like on a farm?

Posted on December 31, 2021 by 40 Mile Commentator
Steve Wikkerink

By Justin Seward


The Commentator spoke to local farmers Bernie Lyczewski and Steve Wikkerink about how life looks around the farm in the winter months.

Lyczewski farms grain, oil seeds and speciality crops south of Bow Island, and in the winter time it’s quiet around his property as he tries to get a jump on maintenance prior to the snowflakes arriving.

“Winter time is when we move most of our grain to the elevators in January (and) February,” said Lyczewski.

“If there’s any equipment that needs to be fixed, we make sure that’s going to be ready for the spring. But I would usually do that probably a little earlier— you know kind of keeping track over the summer what needs to be fixed and then closer to spring, when it’s a little bit warmer, I would probably start getting some of that stuff ready.”

When it comes to monitoring the farmland, not too much is done at the Lyczewski’s during the cold months.

“We try to get out soil tests done in the fall and we get  the fertilizer recommendations,” he said.

“We do some fall fertilizing. So this year was all of November because it was pretty warm and dry.”

While Lyczewski does not have a heated shop, if there is winter maintenance on equipment or trucks, they’re sent out to a shop.

“Normally we keep kind of a list of what stuff needs to be done and if we have time in the fall,we’ll do them before we put them away or we’ll make sure that we get it out early enough in the spring that we can do that,” he said.

He attends curling bonspiels in the winter and goes and visits his daughter and grandkids.

Normally in pre-COVID during the winter, Lyzewski would attend a trade show in Red Deer, occasionally take online marketing courses and attend annual pulse grower and sugar beet meetings.

Once the last of the sugar beets come in, Steve Wikkerink and his farm workers migrate to the shop to service the trucks and tractors by Christmas time and after will focus putting bigger pieces of equipment through later in the winter.

“And basically try to get it so once we hit spring work, all of the components that we need for next year are sitting there ready to go,” said Wikkerink.

The Wikkkerink farm always has its ear open to fertilizer prices, herbicides, crop inputs price increases and watching grain markets.

“Because I farm with two other brothers, we sit down and we brainstorm about do we need to buy some equipment  and what type of equipment and stuff like that,” he said.

The farm will shut down two to three weeks around Christmas time.

“The guys want to be gone, we always allow them to be gone and we take it easy,” he said.

“Lots of times you’re dealing with year end. So you need to work on that doing inventory stuff. You know we’re watching the grain markets. But we work shorter days and make sure that the staff get more time at home with their families.”

He will attend various agriculture annual meetings in January and February.

Wikkerink does like to get away and go somewhere warm in the winter.

Wikkerink welcomed the long stretch of fall weather this year leading up to the coldest time of the year.

“November stayed nice for so long that basically everybody I think got the fieldwork done they wanted,” he said.

“I think a lot of fertilizer went down because of the scare that fertilizer prices are going to be higher again in the spring than they are now and then once guys kind of got that wrapped up, I know  at least for us,  thebnwe did some more outdoor projects you need to do while the weather’s nice, but you don’t stop your main farming operation to do some of these things. But, yeah, with the fall like this, you definitely saw a lot of these project-type work being done—extra dirt work being done in the field, guy filling in low spots, cleaning up maybe brush that has been set aside for a while.”

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