Pot Luck May 2014

Security begins at home
    As I grub in the greenhouse planting lettuce, tomatoes, some cole crops, I’m realizing food security begins at home. It is not a new or brilliant thought, but one we might keep in the forefront of our minds as we putter along here in the country.
    It is fine to consider and strive for food security as a Canadian goal; one for eastern, western, central Canada, or any one province. I like best, however, what starts at home, planting now for the coming year. Feeding ourselves is an economic and political act. When we’re successful, how satisfying it is to walk by shelves and bins of food at the local supermarket, knowing there is plenty and better food at home. 
    I’ve a long way to go before I can walk by a supermarket altogether; a lofty and improbable goal.
    While over in New Brunswick friends report feet of ice and snow in the woods and maple producers having to dig out sap lines when most years they’d be boiling great guns, I hear the first Wood frogs in the tiny pond below the house. No snow to be seen. Most years the Wood frogs get a week’s jump on peepers, so I expect Hyla crucifer to be holding forth any day now. These tiny tree frogs, little bigger than a thumbnail, have no need of amps to deliver ear-splitting choruses from every pond, swamp, and swale. How do they do it? If Twink the cow had that vocal power she’d take the roof off the barn mooing for a lunch.
    Back to the Wood frogs, though. We often hear about amphibians being in trouble, with numbers dwindling due to polluted air and water. The masked Wood frog would appear to be pushing back. Maybe it has to do with global warming. I was told they were new to southern Vermont in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s, and I don’t recall hearing their duck-like quacks on Nova Scotia’s South Shore until well after that. Maybe a herpetologist, expert in all things amphibian, will step in to say yes or no to the idea that this tree frog is a relative newcomer, a long-time resident increasing in numbers, or neither – simply a frog more noticed.
    Spotted salamanders, too, would appear to be an amphibian in good shape hereabouts. Our neighbor Darlene Norman alerted us to the strong possibility that when a relatively warm rain was predicted a week ago the evening would bring on the dance of the salamanders as they make their way from winter hibernation to nearby ponds to spawn. She was bang on, and reported an active evening escorting salamanders across the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic.

    If one lives long enough all sorts of unexpected things come to pass, fall into place, or apart. Since last sitting down to bang out a “Pot Luck” column I’ve been inducted into the Nova Scotia Forestry Hall of Fame – recognition of the early and ongoing efforts of exceptional people like George Fullerton, Dave Palmer, David Sutherland, and Editor David Lindsay, who over the past two decades have made Atlantic Forestry Review an incredibly integral piece of the forestry industry in this part of the world. Veteran lumberman Dave Barrett also was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the joint gathering of the Registered Professional Foresters Association of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Forest Technicians Association, and the Nova Scotia section of the Canadian Institute of Forestry, held March 20 in Truro. 
    Then, April 10, also in Truro, the Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists invited me into their tent as an honorary member of the association of professional men and women in agriculture. I’ve to thank the Federation of Agriculture’s Donna Langille for initiating that kind and unexpected invite. Somewhere Donna found a horoscope pegged to my birth date, which she read as part of an introduction, that came uncannily close to nailing my hide to the barn wall. I accused her of making it up but she insists that’s not the case. 
    Others honored that evening were Quita Gray and Scott Whitelaw of Sugar Moon Farm in Earltown as Outstanding Farmers; Jim Goit, retired Department of Agriculture soil and crops specialist as Distinguished Life Member; Dale McIsaac, maple and blueberry specialist and consultant as Distinguished Agrologist; and Brad McCallum, general manager of the Agri-Commodity Management Association as Outstanding Young Agrologist. The C.A. Douglas Award for 2014 was presented to Erin Smith in recognition of her achievements in the field of agriculture extension. 
    While I was able to get to Truro for the agrologists’ gathering, that wasn’t the case for the Hall of Fame do. My son, Wim, stood in for me that evening, which brings me to the falling apart part of the story. A month ago this day I was inducted into the growing ranks of veterans of cardiac surgery. That marked the culmination of four months of tests to find out why I no longer liked walking uphill. 
    When I was a youngster surgeons were busy removing tonsils and appendices. They don’t do much of that anymore. Instead, at the other end of life, they’re running themselves ragged repairing hearts. 
    Back in about 1957 my older brother’s friend Dick Sperry was building a prototype heart bypass machine in Vic Chelminski’s shop. The idea was fascinating. It bordered on science fiction. Dick would explain some of the challenges and how he hoped that his machine would overcome them. The last thought back then was that near 60 years on I’d wind up plugged into a refined heart-lung bypass apparatus.
    As for Dick (Charles Richard Sperry), while his own machine apparently did not make it to production, a Google search reveals he is credited with 57 U.S. patents, including the invention with three others of Bubble Wrap. Not bad. 
    Best to all. Be back in June with a focus on the shifting dairy industry. DvL