Pot Luck Jan-Feb 2016

“Year in Review:”  It’s free!
    Happy New Year! In celebration, a first issue of DvL Publishing Inc.’s “Year in Review” has been included as a bonus with your subscription to Rural Delivery. This first-ever review is a collection of stories, photos, commentary, and other gleanings from 2015, intended to provide a taste of all four of our rural life magazines. The idea for the review came from Chassity, our general manager, who marshalled the help of everyone else in the organization to put it together. Our thanks to advertisers who made it possible to publish and distribute the “Year in Review” at no cost to readers.
    This is a year of change at DvL Publishing. Over in the Atlantic Beef & Sheep barn we are pleased to announce that Heather Jones, for many years editor of Farm Focus, has accepted the position of editor of the only magazine in the region devoted to improving the lot of beef and sheep farmers. At the same time, our thanks to Rachel Brighton, AB&S editor for the past year, who, on leaving that post, will have more time to pursue writing projects as in the past, primarily for Atlantic Forestry Review and Rural Delivery.
    Which brings us to changes in the wheelhouse where I’m sitting way back in an easy chair while Chassity Allison, as general manager, sees that the engines are running (or the sails are full), and Dave Lindsay, newly-appointed managing editor, holds the ship on course. Dave has been editor of Atlantic Forestry Review and will continue in that role. He also will be the editor of Rural Delivery, and in fact he has been just that for the most part going back months as I stepped away for repairs and to work on an update of “Small Scale Pig Raising” for Echo Point Books in Brattleboro, Vermont. Dave will also be the editorial advisor for Heather Jones and for Lisa Hines (Atlantic Horse & Pony), should questions arise. 
    As publisher what will I do? Little as possible. No, not really. I’ll be writing some and illustrating some and taking some photos, but mostly firing a pea shooter from the back of the wheelhouse, each pea asking “Did you do this?” and “How’s that coming?” and “What do you think about maybe we should do the other?” A right pain in the butt.
    The pig book update is not in the bag, but getting there. That project will continue to eat up time for the next month or two. Then there is the Harrison Lewis Centre, and this small farm that needs so much attention to make up for neglect over decades.
    The over-arching matter is succession. It is such a common theme these days. I feel far from alone. I and the baby boomers behind me have had a great run and have started many things over the past 30 or 40 years. Quite suddenly it is time to wrap these up, tie bows on the packages, and leave them on young fellers’ and gals’ doorsteps – ring the bell and quick, hide in the bushes!
    Shannon Jones (author last issue of our story about growing and selling cut flowers) directed me to some interesting websites about people finding young eagerlings to take over their farms. One farm in Alabama, a goat farm and cheese works, invited would-be new owners to submit $150 and an essay on, “Why I, or my organization, is the perfect fit to continue the farmstead goat cheese tradition.” The winning entry would take the farm and the cheeseworks, and $20,000 in cash. The hope, of course, was that enough people would enter the contest and pay that fee to allow the present owners to ride off – well, not into the sunset, but in their case to Latin America as missionaries where they’d help local farmers raise goats and make cheese. 
    I need a young couple or early-retired older couple to run this farm and grow food for themselves and nearby farmers’ markets and (although I have not even shared this with the board of directors, it is my hope) take up managing our non-profit, registered charity, the Harrison Lewis Centre. That would be a very nice dream come true. There is so much potential in what I and we have started, and what a darned shame to have it come to naught. 
    You were one of the three Powerball winners? Great stuff. “Come on down!”
    You missed out on the millions but are still interested to know more? I’ll be happy to hear from you.
    Great news on the butter and eggs front this past couple of weeks. There is a shortage of butter and so why not grow more colored cows – the Jerseys, Guernseys, and Brown Swiss that can up the percentage of butterfat on your farm? The shortage, according to Island Farmer’s “Foodchain” writer Ian Petrie, has come about as a result of a flood of milk protein “isolates” being imported by large dairies to make cheeses. To make cheese these companies needed more butterfat. Canadian dairy farmers answered the call, produced more milk but got less for it because there’s no great demand for those isolates imported more cheaply from U.S. and other foreign farmers. (They’re allowed to use growth hormones to stimulate production. Canada so far, and rightly, says no to this practice.) Anyway, why not switch from low-fat Holsteins to these other (butter) breeds?
    On the chicken front, a couple of interesting developments, one close to home and the other part of an international move away from caged or so-called battery hens toward open, free-range (although indoors), egg factories. The first has to do with Egg Farmers of Nova Scotia announcing a “New Entrant” program under which quota for up to 500 free-range, free-run, or organic hens will be offered by lot to farmers meeting various criteria. How many allotments or how many hens in total we are talking about was not part of initial announcements. 
    McDonalds and the bakers of Ritz crackers are among international players announcing their intention to do away with eggs from caged hens, according to a report aired recently on National Public Radio. Regulations are not driving the move away from hens in itty-biddy cells but rather public pressure. Consumers want to believe the pork, beef, eggs, lamb, and chicken came from livestock that led maybe short but fun lives providing lots of opportunity to romp over hill and dale with green grass underfoot and clear skies above. 
    There’s a way to go for that day to come. Meanwhile bio-security signs pop up on every farm ostensibly for safe food and to prevent the spread of disease, although at times it would seem the intent is to keep nosey consumers at bay lest they go off half cocked at the sight of a lame cow, or a dead pig awaiting dead-stock pick-up.

    Speaking of lame, but not cows, Fred (“Echoes”) Isenor is recuperating in hospital in Middle Musquodoboit, N.S., after severely shattering his left leg in a nighttime fall down the stairs at his home in Lantz. That was in early December. Surgeons in Halifax’s QE II patched him together with plates and pins prior to shipping him off to the eight-bed hospital 20 minutes from home. There he faces weeks of rehab, but it could be worse. The hospital is next door to Braeside Home where Fred performs regularly with his cousin Wilf Carr’s band, Sunrise. Lots of friends around makes Middle Musquodoboit “just like going home,” Fred reported to his wife Audrey whom he adoringly refers to as “the Warden.” Best wishes from RD and fans for a full and speedy recovery, and thanks to Cousin Wilf for providing this month’s “Echoes” column.
    And that’s all for now. Keep your friends close, your snow shovels closer. DvL

P.S. - FarmWorks’ fifth investment offer is now open. Hundred-dollar shares support Nova Scotia farms and farming through a Community Economic Development Investment Fund tied directly to agriculture and food related businesses. Phone Linda Best at 902-542-3442 for details, or follow the FarmWorks link at RuralLife.ca.