Berries, hay mean sum­mer

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

This has to be one of the best times of the year, un­less you are a par­ent dread­ing the prospect of hear­ing, “But there’s noth­ing to do” from whing­ing chil­dren for the next two months.

For most of us, early July is the pe­riod when Sum­mer re­ally be­gins. The sights, sounds and smells of the ver­dant land­scape re­mind us that, yes, life can be grand, and hu­mid and dirty.

Strawberri­es and freshly cut hay pro­vide a glo­ri­ous sen­sory com­bi­na­tion as corn crops seem to grow taller every minute and pea plants con­tinue their as­cent.

By the way, On­tario field strawberri­es are now ripe, with grow­ers say­ing this year's cool spring is re­sult­ing in an ex­cep­tional crop.

“For most of us, On­tario strawberri­es are one of the great tastes of sum­mer. You can en­joy these healthy and de­li­cious fruits fresh on their own, baked in a dessert or made into jam,” points out Ernie Harde­man, Min­is­ter of Agricultur­e, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs.

“Whether you pick them up at your lo­cal gro­cery store and farm­ers' mar­ket, or visit a pick-your-own farm, On­tario's hard­work­ing farm­ers have har­vested the first fruits of the sea­son for you to share to­day and through­out the sum­mer,” the min­is­ter notes.

“On­tario's cool spring has done won­ders for straw­berry plants,” said Tom Hee­man, Chair­man of the Berry Grow­ers of On­tario. “There re­ally is no com­par­i­son to the taste and flavour of a true lo­cal On­tario straw­berry, and this year they will be in great sup­ply. En­joy the taste of sum­mer with the first fruits of the sea­son!”

More than 1,900 acres of field strawberri­es are har­vested in On­tario each year.

Apart from pro­vid­ing ex­er­cise and an out­ing into the great out­doors, strawberri­es are high in an­tiox­i­dants and vi­ta­min C.

Hay is an­other com­mod­ity that is syn­ony­mous with sum­mer. The first cuts usu­ally co­in­cide with the last few days of the school year. Few smells can beat the odour of lush green hay be­ing mowed. This treat for the nose might ex­plain some peo­ple be­lieve that cut­ting grass can ac­tu­ally be ther­a­peu­tic. A few hours op­er­at­ing a mower can in­deed clear one’s head.

Hay has al­ways been a sta­ple of live­stocks’ di­ets. But the com­mod­ity is also a promis­ing cash crop.

The On­tario Hay and For­age Co-op­er­a­tive has been try­ing to en­list mem­bers in or­der to build a new dou­ble com­pact­ing fa­cil­ity in south­ern On­tario that would fa­cil­i­tate ex­ports.

The goal would be set up a fa­cil­ity that could han­dle 100,000 tonnes an­nu­ally.

This form of feed has great po­ten­tial since there are about 300,000 horses in On­tario, and the num­bers are in­creas­ing.

The U.S. has over 9 mil­lion horses. Many of these are lo­cated in the east­ern States, within truck­ing dis­tance from On­tario.

A horse will typ­i­cally con­sume 2.0 to 2.5 % of its body weight per day in for­age dry mat­ter. There are also feed­ing losses when hay is tram­pled or wasted. Some of the for­age is pas­ture, but mostly dry hay. This means there are ap­prox­i­mately 750,000 tonnes of hay fed to On­tario horses every year. All of these facts may make us re­gard fields in a dif­fer­ent light. As farm­ers and gar­den­ers know, grow­ing your own is a tough, and very re­ward­ing, row to hoe.

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