Pot Luck December 2015

Fall harvest

Lingering doubts about global warming have been dashed once again on this shore. A foot of snow, we hear, struck  Riviere-du-Loup last week, but here cattle are still on pasture and, but for a couple of mornings, there has been no need to break out the windshield ice scraper. Hot dog.
    Ducked into the garden last evening to harvest late carrots, leeks for dinner, and to dig up a clump of parsley to move to the greenhouse where we might have a fresh sprig or two longer into the season. The greenhouse is not heated and before long most of the vegetables growing there will take a frigid bow and exit the stage. New lettuce may survive beneath row covers.
    Migrant workers not busy harvesting Christmas trees have exited as well, heading home to Mexico, Jamaica, and other points south where we can hope for their sakes that the Canadian dollar was strong enough over the summer to hold them over winter. It is encouraging to know some people are calling on Ottawa to let these people and their families – those who wish to do so – settle here, take up farming here, and spend their money and pay taxes here. We have the land, they have the skills and work ethic. What are we waiting for?
    The talk, hand-wringing, and fear-mongering over Canada providing a home for .007 percent of Syrian refugees is disturbing. Twenty-five thousand resettled in Canada will do little to lessen the misery of millions. Money we will spend finding new homes, jobs, and all the rest for this pitiful fraction of the displaced, would go a lot farther helping Turkey, Lebanon, and other neighboring countries look after Syrian refugees, most of whom, once the fighting is over, will be anxious to return home and rebuild. 
    I am not opposed to those refugees coming to Canada, and am not fearful after the attacks on a Russian airbus, a bombing in Beirut, or mayhem in Paris that we would be increasing the risk of terrorist attack here. What I do find sad is mainstream media, including CBC, playing up the hysteria of every Don, Brad, and Cruz. 
    Here is a broader perspective from Mark LeVine, a professor of Middle Eastern History at University of California, Irvine, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Lund University.

    Al Jazeera, Nov. 15 – “By all means, let us blame Islam for the carnage done in its name. But let's be honest about how much all of our most cherished ideals, identities and ideologies have contributed to the death and destruction piling up around us. And then, let's figure out how to recapture the sense of justice, mercy and compassion that have always existed – too often in the shadows – at the core of Islam, Judaism, Christianity and many of the world's other great belief systems, before there's nothing left to fight over.” 

    An immigrant from Hungary and good friend and contributor to Rural Delivery, Ed Deak, from Big Lake Ranch, B.C., died in June. We received word only this past week in a hand-written note from his wife, Marta. “Ed passed away 11 of June '15. He left this world peacefully. His ultimate wish was: Things have to get better! . . . I cherish every moment in our long 70 years together.”
    Ed, an organic farmer, cabinet maker, fine artist, economist, and writer, contributed many articles over the years. They were full of original ideas and instruction, how to build a better greenhouse or cattle gate or turn a pre-war corn harvester into a wood chipper, how we might save the world from ourselves. Ed was 88 when he sent a personal note in May to say he was very ill and there was “no way out.”
    “It was very nice to exchange ideas and contribute a few things for the magazine through all these years,” he wrote, “and I feel very lucky that it was possible. I'm not quite ready to go yet, but it won't be very long. All the very best and cheers, Ed.”
    A fine tribute can be found in The Tyee, British Columbia’s highly regarded on-line magazine to which Ed was a regular contributor. http://thetyee.ca/News/2015/08/01/We-Miss-You-Ed-Deak. 
    In the tribute, Colleen Kimmett writes: “Nearly every story we published . . . included some version of his (Ed’s) general credo: ‘Wealth is the temporary control of energy. Wealth cannot be created, only taken from other sectors, the environment, or the future.’”

    Congratulations P.E.I. for having landed PM Trudeau’s choice for Minister of Agriculture. Lawrence McAulay, who once upon a time milked cows, has won nine terms as MP from Cardigan, and has in past Liberal administrations held the reins on ACOA. It's a major portfolio. Let’s imagine the new government is sitting, and here we are in The House.

    Question Period: “Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Agriculture tell Canadian dairy farmers what’s to be done with the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement now that, according to Island Farmer columnist Ian Petrie, Health Canada says it cannot stop rBGH fluid milk and milk products coming into Canada, where use of the growth hormone on our cows is banned?”

    Sure enough, the devil is in the details, for Petrie also discovered, in addition to the agreement (not ratified) allowing an additional 3.5 percent unfettered importation of dairy products, that after five years there is provision for a percent a year increase on dairy imports for 13 more years. One percent of what is not clear. Nothing was said publicly about this at the time the agreement was reached and Harper was crowing its virtues from atop a teetering perch.

    Birders from as far as Halifax will gather here this coming weekend to carry out an annual count of ducks, geese, and anything with feathers. Bird Studies Canada (BSC) and the Nature Conservancy of Canada combine efforts organizing the count that last year recorded 126 Harlequin ducks off  Keji Seaside and Hemeons Head, the highest number of this colorful species since 2011 when the Port Joli count began.

    Harlequins are fascinating for the way they dash and dive in the surf as it crashes over the rocks on exposed headlands.  They are so busy avoiding getting drowned in that wild habitat they’re probably easy to shoot, which could be a reason they became a “species of special concern” for the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Sue Abbott, BSC's Nova Scotia program coordinator, says the Committee reported last year a 350 percent increase in the number of these ducks wintering in eastern North America since 1981.
    Here, in this Port Joli IBA (Important Bird Area), the count of Canada geese was down, “likely due to unfavorable (low) tidal conditions during the count.”
    We might also consider a warming environment to explain the low number of geese. Last week in Truro, from the sound of the cackling (it was dark), there were geese by the hundreds tending on the flood plain at the head of Cobequid Bay. Fifty years ago, when this time of year there would have been several thousand geese in Port Joli, that meadow by the bay would have been a frigid place to hang out. Too, 50 years ago we were not planting acre upon acre of corn up that way as we are today. A field of harvested corn is ripe for gleaning. Why would a goose with half a brain fly south to chew on Eel grass roots when there’s a daily crop-full of high-energy corn at the ready?
    I was in Truro to pick up a bull to breed my critters. He’s a Belted Galloway bull from Quebec, and in his canister was gentle as a 4-H calf riding in the passenger seat of my Yaris. Du Rapide Legacy is gorgeous, cool even. I left him in Bridgewater where our vet Rob Wentzell is looking after him. It will be love at first sight when he arrives home and the girls can draw straws to see who’ll be bred first.
    A very merry holiday season to all, regardless how you celebrate with lights and love this darkest time of the year. DvL