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First trial by fire

This past weekend was... snowy.

 

All our team members were out in one capacity or another from Friday until early Monday morning. The temperatures ranged from 4 to -18 C with wind gusts and overcast skies. Whether we were in trucks clearing driveways and lots, hand bombing salt, or shoveling, we worked hard to keep everything clear. Sunday in particular, it was fierce.

 

It was darn cold when I was out shoveling and salting in Port Dover Saturday, and, after a day out working muscles that have not been stretched in those directions for awhile, the following day felt even colder and longer... whether in actuality or just in my mind. I put to use some -ancient- hand warmer.. pads? Packets? Those little "open and expose to air" things. They were not necessarily fast enough to warm up off these hop, but they did kick in and by golly was I grateful. I had been losing feeling in my fingertips within my winter gloves, even though they are well insulated and made for Winter weather, and the little.. heaters (one either side of my palms) heated the blood circulation enough to bring them back to life. We tackled a big residential suburb that we care for, with 100+ individual houses. We hand shovelers are responsible for the walkways, steps and directly in front of the garage door (to remove risk of blades from the machine plows hitting the doors). We had a crew of five, including our beast of a muscle machine boss Celia, to attack these properties. We started around 7am and finished up around 3pm; for a change it was daylight the entire time we were there (usually we are there well before the sun rises, however this past weekend the weather insisted on maintaining a steady snow fall our start was delayed until it started) and that helps it not feel like such a chore.

 

Other team members had started at 4am and worked until about 9am, then coming back out later in the evening to re-do what had once been done. Sleep is a valued commodity during these heavy snow falls. That and food. We get hungry, so quick visits to Tim Hortons for a bathroom break and a quick snack happens. 

 

It is three days later now, and today is the first day my muscles are not whole heartedly asking me to curl up into a tight ball and snuggle away the day. Today I have the wonderful update from Jody that it is snowing again... lather, rinse, repeat.

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A salting they will go!

Today's weather, albeit grey, slippery, cold and ... depressing, is actually very exciting for us here at Jody's Lawn Care! We have been watching with baited breath for cooler temperatures, and get a comical giddiness when we see the "special weather alert" posts on our Facebook pages for Ontario snow warnings. With the falling snow/rain combo and low temperatures, we have our salters at the ready to ensure that there are ice free areas throughout Simcoe, Port Dover and Cambridge (and often areas in between)!

 

We did some salting over the weekend, and those same teams are out today. Salting may seem like a simple, basic, affair, but it is very important. Salt is the first line of defense against slips and falls, and ice accumulation. This is very important not only for our business owners, but all traffic (whether vehicular or pedestrian). Safety is the most important consideration when you tackle Winter weather, whether this is maintaining good body posture (lift with your legs!), ensuring you are wearing proper Winter attire (boots with good tread are essential) or thinking ahead (like applying salt to the parking lot and sidewalks).  Jody's team take this all seriously. and this includes not only actually salting, but also inspecting the site throughout weather events to ensure it is looked after (site visits are free and just help us guarantee the property is safe for our clients/the public). So if you see our team out, be aware we are working to keep everyone safe.

 

The weather forecast is calling for a moderate amount of precipitation over the next few days. Temperatures are a bit variable, so whether this will be rain or snow remains to be seen. Regardless, we assured we will be attentive and prepared to mitigate the risks.

 

Be careful tonight with the commute home, roads are not going to lie this freeze/thaw situation we are in. Leave lots of room between vehicles and drive slow. There is no rush to get home, it is more important to get home in one piece. Stay warm and stay safe!

 

 

 

 

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Oh the weather outside is... unreliable

We have closed out 2023 and are now staring down the barrel of 2024.

 

New Year's Eve had us out salting, combating the long foretold -mild- snow fall. It was not a huge amount, our shovel crews were enable to stay home safe and welcoming the new year in, but our salters were out ensuring the safety of our customers. The weather forecast for this month so far is looking a little snowier than last, so we have crossed our fingers and toes that it will work out in our favour (not sure which way that is precisely, but the Fates will know). 

 

I also discovered there is a camera on the Port Dover lighthouse (did you know?!) Port Dover Lighthouse Live Webcam - useful for checking if I have to be concerned about a 3am wake up to shovel!

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The Winter Solstice has passed us by, bringing back gradually brighter days - although the recent cloudy days are not allowing us to see the benefit, yet. Already my brain is jumping ahead to April when we will start sending out our estimates to our warm season clients. I think I am just craving the sunshine, this grey, dreary weather is a huge damper on spirits.

 

I have to remind myself to enjoy what we have. It was kind of pretty yesterday with the crystalline trees and fresh, white snow. It was not deep, but if you snapped a picture before you tred on it, you could pretend. The temperatures have been reasonable too, although to be honest, it feels colder than it really is due to what we have been spoilt with. When it was -3 yesterday, I just could not seem to feel warm once I got inside the house, although I am pretty sure this time last year it was feeling more like -30.

 

Our dogs did not mind, relishing the long awaited snow baths and skidding fun. Running over the coyote tracks we found coming under one back gate and (we assume) hopping over the other. Even with the cold and snow, the scavengers had been out. This has been an odd Winter for them. Their coats have not completely changed over as they should, and the mud/rain has been less than satisfactory for their amusement. 

 

We are all waiting to see if we get a true Winter or if we skip straight to Spring.

 

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Merry Christmas 2023

There are only three days until Christmas! 

 

Everyone celebrates the holiday season differently, regardless of ttheir beliefs. Here at Jody's we have spent a lot of time watching the weather reports and planning for "what ifs". The weather stations tell us there will be no white Christmas, but that doesn't mean we do not have to be prepared for cold and ice. A fresh salt delievery is to arrive today to ensure we are well stocked over the holidays, just in case.

 

Our office will close from 4pm this afternoon until next Wednesday morning - although that does not mean that our team is not "on call". We just will not be answering the phone or email until after Boxing Day. Please feel free to leave messages for us that we will return then. Jody will still be watching the weather raptly, and sending out teams when needed to ensure that ice is thwarted and snow removed! However, at this point it is not looking like there will be snow until January at the earliest! The words "El Nino" seem to be bantered about our office, to the point I looked up what it meant; here is what CTV says: El Nino 2023: What to expect this winter | CTV News

 

As such, our expectations for a Wintery season are sadly low. 

 

But, in a way, our employees are grateful for the break. Jody himself will tell you of times on Christmas where he and his family were out shovelling snow before presents. Our snow team are aware that they may be called in during this primarily family time to look after snow removal if necessary - it's part of our cree. Thus, the forwarned lack of snow (albeit bitterweet for the pocket book) is not to be completely disapproved of. 

 

We wish you all the very happiest of seasons, and may health and wealth come your way!

 

Merry Christmas! 

 

 

 

 

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The Holidays Are Coming!

The common theme of conversation in our office lately seems to rotate around the fact that time is passing uncomfortably fast, and we are already almost halfway through December!

 

Not only, dare we say it aloud, have we NOT had show -le gasp- but it does not look like there is to be much snow in the forecast for awhile yet. Now, this is ignoring the premonition from Jody that the weather stations will (with a great deal of hope) forecast that we will have snow on Christmas eve - because, as he points out, we all hope for a white Christmas.   

 

Jeremy gaily tells me there is only 18 days until New Years. I feel about ready to bury my head in the sand. I am NOT ready for this! We have family gatherings on the horizon; all of which I have tried to plan for, but held off picking up items since I didn't want to be too early. Now, I am second guessing and swallowing the urge to rush t the shops to purchase everything I need! We have dinner at my husband's parents, Christmas day we will stay home and enjoy the peace, and then Boxing Day we are having both his family and my family over for dinner! We are going to rock it a bit traditional, appetizers of kielbasa with fried perogies, cheese, crackers, deviled eggs, M&M Meats Asian party pack, baked Brie, chips & dip, tortilla pinwheels (another first attempt for me), and fancy punch (my husband is set on a recipe from his childhood). This is to be followed by a traditional turkey as the main, with a root vegetable/brussel sprout medley in balsamic vinegar, milk bread, squash, cauliflower and cheese, cranberry sauce, potatoes, parsnips, three bean salad.. debating a pasta addition of some kind but... would that be too much? Dessert is a Yule log from Ritzy's bakery in Waterford, along with small temptations like rice krispie squares, perhaps a cheese cake sampler, and trifle (I have been practicing mimicking my grandmother's trifle).

So,there is that plan.

 

However, the more pressing short term concern is this Saturday we are having another set of parents over for dinner - with an attempt at something different, Quail and lamb with extras. Not sure if it has been done before, certainly not by me, but there you have it! I have to figure out my sides for this as well... thinking roasted potatoes, egg fried rice, asparagus, butternut squash, maybe a cucumber salad for some crisp freshness? Dessert will likely be decided the day of, perhaps with something our parents bring to the table. For bread we may break tradition a little and have Challah bread as that is a favourite... I wish I could say I baked it myself, but it eludes me so far. 

 

... the holidays are coming, and all I can worry about are the meals! 

I haven't even started on presents. I am not a big fan of presents, I am more about the time together and enjoying each others company (food is lovely too), but the presents seem to be a thing. I will try to figure these things out soon - the clock is ticking. Best start writing my lists today... >_<

 

 

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Closing of one season, waiting on the true start of the next!

Yesterday was the day that we finished up the Fall clean ups. This is where we go to properties, rake up leaves (either to take them away or pile/bag for the property owner), cut back tall grasses, and tidy up any seasonal plants (as requested). 

 

This weather has been UNBELIEVABLE for this time of year! We were able to take on more clean ups than we had originally planned due to the mild temperatures and lack of "the white stuff". The unfortunate part is we are still receiving calls from new customers looking to have the clean ups done. We regret to say that we are having to decline accepting these requests, as we must put away our Fall supplies and tools in order to ensure we have our Winter items/supplies to hand for the early (usually before sunrise) preparation to salt and shovel. We are entering into a holding pattern to be prepared to ensure sidewalks and driveways are safe.


For those who wonder when they should request a Fall clean up to ensure we are able to complete it before our change over: please call us in October to set it on the schedule. That way we are able to plan when we can quote it and have a rough idea of when we can complete it, and how many team members it will take. Your intel on what your yard usually requires is very helpful with this process. We do reach out to past Fall clean up clients usually in the beginning of October to initiate this process, but do not be afraid to contact us first!

 

              

We have finalized our Snow Lists as well, and are therefore unable to accept new inquiries for theses services (in both our Simcoe and Cambridge locations). We apologize for the disappointment, however please understand that although we are excited about the amount of snow staff we have this year (we have a fair number of new hires that we have great hopes for this Winter!), we have to be realistic about the number of properties that we can reliably manage. We also have to prioritize our existing/all year clients as well, since we wish to reward their loyalty (our customers mean a lot to us). We also must have a cut off for adding to our snow list - snow management is something we cannot modify on a short notice, we must have a plan for these 2am wake ups! As such, we are not able offer more snow services this year.

 

We are on that weird tightrope of being excited and anticipating the snow... but also enjoying the lack thereof. Who knows what Mother Nature will bring, but we are doing our best to be ready for it!

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Are we really already into August?

Is it just me, or does it feel like the Summer has sped by on a roller coaster track? Here we are, just starting August, the pre-cursor to Fall, but it doesn't really feel as though we have had a Summer.

 

That isn't to say we did not have some HOT weather, but it was intermingled with rain, rain, more rain, random cool days, and a superfluous number of tornado warnings! To be fair, I cannot complain about us not having to be concerned with drought conditions like we were last year, and even the gasoline prices were a little more tame (or perhaps gradual is the better description). Working out in the field was not terrible, the worst days were when it did not feel hot but you seated like a running tap - but to be honest, they were fewer in number than last year for sure.

 

Today I worked both inside and outside the office, and when outside I wasn't hot, but yet again the sweat beaded on my brow. Then inside I at first hovered over the air conditioner, feeling as though yes, it had actually been hot outside... that latest about half an hour before I found myself thinking "I should have brought a sweater". However, the A/C remains on, as Wolf the office dog is in residence, and he feels it is ALWAYS hot (even in Winter). 

 

We did have a very Summery day last week, out of the blue and greatly appreciated. There was an unofficial half-day planned late Monday for Tuesday afternoon. Jody decided that he would like to take everyone golfing (no one knows why this thought struck him, but we were not going to argue). However, in an unplanned (and albeit disturbingly stereotypical) development the girls were either unable to attend based on the tee time, or were not overly interested... and it would also have required booking an additional tee to suit the numbers. So, there was a new suggestion: how would the girls like to go to the movie theatre? The vote was unanimous, absolutely! So it was decided, the men went to play golf and the women went to see Barbie at The Strand... don't judge us.

 

 

We are very well treated here, all of this was paid for by Jody and Celia, "just 'cause"!

 

But, alas, Summer is already seemingly on the way out. Soon we will be sending out snow estimates and contracts, and trying to build up our gumption to be willing to get up at 2am and drive through the snow to clear driveways and sidewalks. Summer is definitely the easier season for our team members, and we will be holding onto it as long as we can...

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Poison Ivy - Do you have it?

We spend a lot of time in peoples' yards and gardens, and there is one plant in particular that we avoid at all costs: Poison Ivy.

 

Now, this can be a bit of a "the boy who cried wolf" situation, as the phrase "better safe than sorry" comes to mind when trying to determine if the plant we are staring at suspiciously IS actually Poison Ivy. Childhood warnings often fade over time, and you find yourself pondering "did they say five leaves or three?" when pensively considering the greenery in front of you. As a company, we also do note want to risk the health and safety of our employees by allowing them to find out the hard way, so we endorse them being cautious. However, occasionally, this means that we avoid plants that are completely harmless.

 

So! With all that, let's have a lesson on what Poison Ivy DOES look like!

 

Poison Ivy Image

 

Let's note the THREE leaves, with the central one being on a longer, centered stem. Also note that although the leaves have peaks along the edges, they are fat peaks and infrequent; also fairly smooth edging. Now, beware, it is NOT always green. "They are reddish when they appear in the spring, turn green during the summer, and become various shades of yellow, orange, or red in the fall."

 

As Reader's Digest states, "In the springtime, the plants will blossom with very small white flowers and bright green leaves. Over the course of the summer months, the plant will produce greenish berries, too. Summer poison ivy leaves are still green, but there might be a few leaves that appear redder. In the fall, the leaflets will turn full-on red with some orange and yellow, too." (The Healthy - Reader's Digest).

 

As it's name 'ivy' delineates, it is a woody, climbing vine. This means it is UP other plants (trees, stronger stemmed plants, and even up the sides of buildings and fences) as well as across the ground.

 

Please note that, as the Explorer Chick says, "An oil in the plant, urushiol, usually causes an allergic reaction and rash when people contact the sap. And the oil isn’t just in the leaves or stem — the entire plant is poisonous." (How to Identify Poison Ivy (And How to Treat an Allergic Reaction), so you do not want to touch ANY part of the plant.

 

If you are brave enough to gown, glove, and boot up to attempt to remove this irritating invaders, please note as the Government of Canada websites warns "If poison ivy is burned and the smoke is inhaled, the rash will appear on the lining of the lungs, causing extreme pain and possibly fatal breathing problems. If poison ivy is eaten, the digestive tract, airway, kidneys, or other organs can be damaged." (Poison ivy - Canada.ca). As such, the only way to dispose of it is to bag it and put it in the garbage - possibly adding a warning label to help protect our sanitation workers.

 

The joys of Mother Nature are that this is not the only risky plant we can encounter. Bob Vila Has a great article on ALL the dangers available in your garden here: Poisonous Weeds: 10 Ways Your Backyard Can Hurt You. Be sure to brush up on what you should avoid.

 

Hope this article provides a good reference for "is that poison ivy?"!

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Canada: four season, one day

 

    So much of our business rides on the weather. Not only the forecast, which can be sketchy at best, but also on what Mother Nature presents us on the day! This has become harder and harder to predict of late - we cannot even rely on the trends that occurred earlier this year (our fairly warm Winter), as we seem stuck on a yo-yo of weather with no rhyme or reason!

 

    Yesterday into today, for instance, started off reasonable in the morning, rising to warm as the day progressed. Nothing too outrageous, all considered. However, come 5:00pm, suddenly it was uncomfortably humid, causing sweat to to roll, clothes to stick, and thirst to rise. This was managed. Then the weather decided to up to impact, and brought about rain and thunderstorms, with thunder that shook the house and rain that filled water buckets. The sky was a tawny yellow, the clouds a range of tones of gray, and the trees shook in the sudden wind gusts!

 

    My ducks were ecstatic.

 

    After this settled, the sun attempted to come out for its last hour of glory. With it, the temperature began to drop, becoming once again comfortable. All became calm and quiet, just in time for bed.

 

    When morning broke, the temperature was cool, the sky clear, and the rooster crowed. My thermometer said it was 12 C out. Rose to 15 C as I prepped for work and completed the morning chores. I packed a sweater for in the office, just in case.

 

    Arrival at work denoted a change in temperature to 18 C. The sun is strong, and the sky clear, and the weather app on my phone says our high is to be 25 C by 4:00pm. The AC is now on in the office, and although my sweater is on, it is highly driven by the natural cooling of a sedentary body (not much exercising while phones are answered, emails responded to, and blogs written). 

 

    I will take this range of temperature change over the painfully high temperatures of last week. When it is warned that "with the humidex it will feel like 38 C", that is too much for me. I am a fair weather girl, 21 C and below thank you very much. Those high temperatures also muddled up some of our lawn treatment schedules, as the weed control product can only be applied when there is no rain for at least 3 hours following application, and temperatures lower than 29 C or so. With our range of rain and roasting last week, this became a precarious situation. However, with the more level conditions of this week, we were able to catch up and round 2 of our treatments have been completed. Now to just prepare for round 3 in August.

 

    The only concern I have it when will we get a Summer snow fall?

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Ever thought about focusing on native plant species?

 

We often get very absorbed in designing a garden with beauty and colour in mind - but what about history? Sustainability? Natural environment?

 

In Ontario we are blessed that we have a wide range of growing zones that lead to a variety of natural plants. Native plants are regional flora that have evolved in-situ 100s of years and have adjusted to their local conditions, including co-evolvement with other local organisms. 

 

Including native shrubs in your garden plants, or even deciding to build a pollinator garden using native shrubs and plants can be a huge improvement to the natural beauty and environment on your property. This does not even have to be limited to large properties, apartment balconies and small patio gardens can incorporate these plants too. Container gardening can be a great way to maximize a small space! This helps encourage ecological restoration and improve many aspects of your green space: sequester Carbon, create wildlife habitats, absorb storm and flood water, reduce noise, reduce wind impact, neutralize harmful pollutants, and improve mental health. 

 

It does take a little bit of research and thought - some of these plants are not offered at your local garden centre - but the benefits outweigh the time inputs. You have to be sure that you are considering a legitimate native species (sourced locally, genetically diverse, not "domesticated", and truly native, pesticide free, and ethically collected). 

 

Depending on your available space, design can take some forethought. There is a great webinar from the North American Native Shrub Society (Nanps) on Native Plant Gardening For Your Balcony (great ideas for containers) as well as a Ontario specific guidance for Native Shrubs (I personally found the latter very informative for my own property). Overall Nanps is a great resource, and its membership is constituted of people very interested in helping you take a more native approach to your gardens!

 

If you want a little less intense step into including native plants, there is a great article here specific to what native flowers are suitable for Simcoe! If you want to see some images of some native plants, Nanps has a photo gallery here that is FULL of images to give you ideas of options that may be suitable for your environment!

 

Hopefully we have been able to help open your eyes to the beauty that is naturally around you, and perhaps encourage you to help restore and protect it!

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