Merry Christmas!

Here are a few fun facts about Christmas and Ontario’s farms. Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and all the best in 2015.



Christmas on Ontario farms

A pony for Christmas

by Patricia Grotenhuis

A lot of children want ponies for Christmas at some point in their lives.  They keep hinting about it, write letters to Santa, and think “if I’m really, REALLY good, maybe I’ll get it”.  I was one of those children.

When I was six, the only thing I wanted was a pony or a horse.  Maybe it was from Dad’s stories of having ponies when he was growing up, maybe it was just because it would be neat.  Regardless, it was all I thought about.

When the time came for us to write our annual letters to Santa, I’m pretty sure mine said something along the lines of: “Dear Santa How are you and Mrs. Claus?  How are the reindeer?  I’m 6 years old now, and I’ve been trying really hard to be good this year.  All I want for Christmas is a pony…

I also convinced my brother, who was 10, and sister, eight, to add a pony to their Christmas letters.  It did not take a lot of convincing.  We were farm kids and loved animals – it was just natural to want another one in the mix to love and care for.

I was extra nervous and excited as Christmas Eve approached.  We made sure Dad remembered to leave a bale of hay for the reindeer, which was an annual tradition.  Not the small bales, either, one of the big round bales so all of them could get enough to eat.

We helped Mom make a batch of peanut brittle, because Santa had told us in past years it was his favourite.  And, like all years, we all tried to stay awake to see Santa, even though we were exhausted.

Eventually we drifted off, and the next morning we woke up and ran downstairs to open stockings with our parents and grandma before chores began.  The rest of the presents always had to wait until the animals were taken care of, but we knew the routine and we were okay with that. Santa had indeed visited while we were sleeping!

There were some extra presents under the tree, and overflowing stockings.  There was also a note from Santa, thanking us for the peanut brittle and for the hay.  His reindeer loved having something to eat to keep them going that night.  Santa also mentioned we should check on the cow in the maternity pen.

We bundled ourselves up and went out to the barn.  The bale was completely gone, other than some loose hay scattered around the ground where it had been sitting.  The whole family went back to the maternity pens.

While we were in the maternity pen section of the barn, which gave the cows space and privacy during calving, my brother turned around.  A small horse was sticking its head over the gate of the second maternity pen!  We were so excited it was hard to concentrate on chores.

Eventually we did finish and opened our other presents after a delicious breakfast made by Mom, but that horse was on the top of our minds.  We decided to name her Noel in honour of the day she arrived.

Later that day, dad brought our new horse out so we could go for a little ride on her and I knew I was the luckiest girl in the world.

Out of all of my childhood Christmases, I remember that one with more clarity than any other.  To this day, when I hear someone say they want a pony for Christmas, I smile and take a trip down memory lane.  I know most will not get a live pony like we did, but will always be thankful for that magical Christmas when a little girl’s dream came true.

Christmas on the farm as an adult

By Patricia Grotenhuis, Agricultural advocate and lifelong farmer

Growing up on a farm was the best preparation possible for marrying a farmer.  I knew that it meant Christmas celebrations, just like any celebrations, would start after the animals were taken care of. 

Now that we are adults and are forming our own traditions, we are doing our best to support local farmers and the local economy while getting ready for Christmas.  Our tree comes from a friend’s tree farm, where we can cut our own.  Turkey and cheese come from a nearby store which carries local products.  Other various items are picked up in a close radius as well.  Continue reading

Christmas on the farm as a child

By Patricia Grotenhuis, Lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

Christmas morning. The kids wake up early, rush downstairs, see the presents and stockings that appeared through the night and promptly…walk right past, bundle up and head for the barn. Okay, we may have stopped for a quick peek in our stocking and to read Santa’s note, but that was it. To farm kids, waiting to open presents is a way of life. Continue reading