COLUMN: It’s not dry lawns we should be worrying about

If there is an upside to the drought we are currently experiencing, it is that lawn mowing is almost a forgotten activity

If there is an upside to the drought we are currently experiencing, it is that lawn mowing is almost a forgotten activity, necessary now only to knock down the infernal weeds that seemingly grow out of nothing.

However, the lack of grass growth has far wider consequences to our pocketbooks in the form of ultimately higher food prices.

Normally farmers in the Fraser Valley are on their second cut of hay, with at least one or two more expected before the cool and wet of fall puts the balers to bed. Not this year, from what I have seen.

Similarly, across the Valley, the vast swaths of cow corn ground up each year as silage for cattle feed are suffering from lack of rain.

Without access to sprinklers and irrigation ditches, fields containing cole crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts will see them wilt and die.

And unless we have a wet August, current weather conditions will translate into higher prices at the grocery store.

Already, beef prices some 70 per cent over last year are affecting people’s barbecue time, which right now is thrilling ranchers, but the dry conditions are also foretelling tough times ahead. Without adequate quantities of hay to overwinter the cows who produce the calves that eventually grace our plates, ranchers will have to reduce their herds, further exacerbating the rising cost of beef.

A number of years ago when the Cariboo suffered a similar drought, the hay shortage was so acute, a rancher friend of mine made the difficult and expensive choice to ship two-thirds of his herd, some 250 cows, to Alberta for the winter. I’m sure that knocked the crap out of his profitability for quite some time.

While I’m not certain of the hay potential up-country this year, I can imagine it is similar to then, except this year Alberta is also facing drought, and an equivalent dearth of hay and grain supplies. This means being unable to feed the cows. They will be shipped for slaughter, resulting next year in beef shortages and thus even higher consumer prices. Meanwhile, ranchers face the possibility of economic collapse.

Yet the potential for food shortages and higher costs are not so much of a concern for residents of Sumas Mountain as is the potential for wildfire.

I live in what’s described as forest interface. We have thousands of acres of timber and bush lands that are tinder dry on this mountain, yet on the Crown land above us it is open season for dirt bikes and ATVs, for parties and overnight campers.

A failed spark arrestor on a bike’s exhaust, a discarded bottle, a tossed cigarette, a hot catalytic converter of a car parked on dry grass, and we face a massive conflagration – at a time when virtually all resources for forest firefighting are tasked elsewhere.

Should we have a stiff east wind like we had last weekend, a wildfire started on a remote part of the mountain is capable of sweeping all the way into Abbotsford’s eastern urban area.

Even disregarding the possibility of a human-caused fire, the prospect of a lightning strike between now and the onset of our normally rainy conditions, at least here on Sumas Mountain, put thoughts of an apocalyptic summer way ahead of lawn mowing and higher food prices.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kao Macaulay has been charged in relation to a home break-in on March 30 in Abbotsford in which five kittens were stolen. (Facebook photo)
Former Chilliwack man charged with theft of 5 newborn kittens in Abbotsford

Prolific offender Kao Macaulay, 23, accused of breaking into home on March 30

Workers were on scene to clean up the oil spill in Abbotsford at Trans Mountain Pipeline’s Sumas pump station in June 2020. (File photo by Shane MacKichan)
TSB releases final report on June 2020 oil spill in Abbotsford

Transportation Safety Board says pipeline fitting to blame for spill of up to 190K litres

About 80 demonstrators walked through Hope with signs in support of saving the Station House on March 23, 2021. (Photo/Christian Ward)
Public hearing now planned for Hope’s Station House decision

Council has now taken steps to remove heritage status from historic building

Cemetery staff installed the wrong headstone on the grave of Jima Kiir, even though the headstone’s photo did not match with the photo placed on the grave. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford mother upset city placed wrong headstone on son’s grave

Cemetery staff mix up graves of 2 recently deceased men from South Sudanese community

Williams Lake RCMP arrested a man Saturday, March 13 near Wildwood in vehicle stolen in Quesnel. (RCMP logo)
UPDATE: Chilliwack woman missing since March 17 found safe and sound

RCMP thanks the media and public for assistance

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Of 46 arrests made between March 16 and 19 at Metrotown mall in Burnaby, 27 suspected shoplifters are now facing charges. (Twitter/Burnaby RCMP)
RCMP arrest 46 people in 4 days during Metrotown shoplifting crackdown

A total of $4,800 of stolen property was recovered and returned to businesses inside the mall

Maple Ridge's Doug Ubell caught some photographs recently that he was anxious to share, one taken while on the Trans-Canada Trail looking southwest towards the Pitt River Bridge, and another from on Golden Ears Bridge. (Special to The News)
Traffic on Golden Ears Bridge returning to pre-pandemic levels

Commuters from Greater Vancouver still driving more, taking transit less

Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions (Screen shot)
Minister of mental health tells Surrey audience COVID-19 ‘has made everything worse’

More than 23,000 people in B.C. are receiving medication to treat opioid addiction

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read