Pot Luck September 2014

Gardens, gas, and Gaza
    The garden flourishes. I freeze and pickle, dry stuff, and give stuff away. The squash, three varieties, are doing well, unlike last year when for some reason the crop was meager. 
    My own gardening and food storage efforts are feeble compared to those of Bill and Linda Rose whose story is told by Sandra Phinney in this issue of RD. I am in awe of what they know and accomplish, and while it far exceeds my own doings it is satisfying to know that many readers of this magazine are quietly putting the harvest away for winter: down cellar, in a freezer or two, the pantry, or into a bulk tank buried in the back yard as has served Mitch Lansky and Susan Szwed for more than three decades – another story in this issue. Putting food by is a revolutionary act. It’s passive resistance against the onslaught of Big Grocery.
    While on the home front fruits and vegetables are being stashed away, on livestock farms forages and grains are the main target. As much as we in Atlantic Canada live within no more than a handful of hardiness zones, the climate from one valley to the next can vary greatly. Drought in northeast Nova Scotia while a farmer on New Brunswick’s Kingston Peninsula mows a swamp. 
    Maybe he should consider rice, as are Ian Curry and Nicki Clark in Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia – Japanese paddy rice. What a great idea to grow a wet crop rather than spend a fortune on tile drainage. I’m hoping we can have a story about their experiment in the coming issue.
    My own small meadows are a wreck. While dairy farmers are taking a crop of forage off their lands as often as once a month, my own small fields are springing up with Soft rush (Juncus effusus) and other obnoxious plants the cows disdain. That’s not a result of climate. It’s called sloth, or not enough “round tuits” saved up. Turn-of-the-last century farm books would have me pegged “Farmer Slack.” Those dairymen and women would be of the “Farmer Thrift” variety. 
    But speaking of pegging, who’s the “ordinary Canadian?” I keep hearing about him, or possibly her, or both, but the harder I look the harder he or she is to find. I must be looking in the wrong place. Or could it be there is no such thing? I am beginning to think that the only ordinary Canadian is one that has not been examined closely enough to see that, by gosh, there’s something extraordinary about this person that’s perhaps not obvious to politicians, pollsters, and social engineers who strive hard to label and file the lot of us. 
    Here’s an “ordinary Canadian” who has a most amazing garden. And over here an incredibly devoted and able parent. Another can take a car apart and put it back together blindfolded – and never took a mechanics course. In the country it’s maybe easier to see the individuality and creativity of our fellow Canadians as we drive down most any lane. ”Ordinary” is a rare commodity.

    In April 1943, German troops led by Nazi SS Group Leader Jurgen Stroop turned soldiers, tanks, and flame throwers against 60,000 Jews blockaded in the mile-square Warsaw Ghetto, a handful of whom were lightly armed. 
    A month after the assault began the ghetto had been reduced to rubble. Seven thousand Jews – men, women, and children – had been killed. The Germans lost 300 soldiers. Surviving Jews were rounded up and imprisoned. To what fate? Stroop reported to his superiors that 56,065 Jews had been captured “and demonstrably liquidated.”
June 30, 2014, Israeli jets began bombing the Gaza Strip where 1.8 million Palestinians are blockaded on a piece of land roughly the size of Montreal (population 1.6 million). Militants fired back with largely ineffectual, unguided rockets. Israel retaliated with missiles, drones, artillery fire, tanks, and thousands of well-armed troops. 
    Little more than a month after the assault began the Times of Israel reported “At least” 1,867 people in the Gaza strip had been killed, 75 percent of them civilians. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers died; three civilians. A temporary cease fire has broken down. The blockade and the mayhem continue.
    The situation in Palestine seems far removed from our own tribulations, like arguments over fracking. And yet, when aboriginal people in New Brunswick rise up in protest over testing for gas on their ancestral lands, is the distance so great?
Speaking of fracking, Nova Scotians were offered a chance to speak out on the issue during a recent round of hearings. I don’t recall seeing a tally but know that very, very few spoke in favor. Government has not heard the last, for the Ecology Action Centre is collecting the names of 100 organizations opposed to injecting unknown chemical soups underground to extract natural gas.
    When completed, the list, along with a letter calling for a 10-year extension of the current moratorium on fracking, will be presented to the Energy Minister. At last count they were more than a third the way to their goal. (More information about the sign-up and how to take part can be found by following the EAC list link on www.RuralLife.ca.) 

    Rural Delivery will be delving into energy questions in October with a focus on heating and saving heat in our homes, barns, and outbuildings. We would like to hear from readers about innovative solutions that save money and energy, and who get around roadblocks like shortages of firewood for domestic use, as absurd at that sounds. Absurd but true as our hardwood gets ground into chips and squeezed into pellets for shipment overseas. Other factors are at play. We hope to shed more light on that and other heating topics – with the help of readers. 
Happy canning, DvL