RD Pot Luck Jan-Feb 2017

Welcome two thousand seventeen!
    Growing up, as much as I accomplished in that department, we always anticipated what was known as “the January thaw,” a few days of spring-like weather such as we’ve just experienced – and that the weatherperson says will come to a sudden end this evening. Mother would say “winter’s letting go for a new hold.” We will soon have our shoulders pinned to an icy mat and be begging for mercy from beneath drifts of snow.
    Which reminds me of the story mentioned before in these pages of Vermeulen Farms in Canning, Nova Scotia, where two springs back workers from Mexico were handed snowshoes to strap on so’s to climb over mountains of snow to repair and re-assemble high tunnels in time for the coming growing season.
    Hard to resist drawing men in sombreros, snowshoeing over snow-blanketed hill and dale. 
    Which brings to mind yet another topic that should become a theme in this new year in which there’s an added push on for immigrants. That’s to do with migrant workers. The recent move by the Trudeau government to scrap the previous administration’s so-called “four-in, four-out” rule – which denied temporary foreign workers permission to work more than four years in a row before having to stay home for four ­– is a step in the right direction.
    That right direction is through a door leading to permanent residency and citizenship. Hell’s bells, they come here and do our work so we can live well. They deserve a permanent berth.
    So does Courtney Webster, who, with her Canadian husband Adam Webster, lived and farmed in Port Williams, N.S. That is, until Immigration kicked her out before Christmas because of some technical flaw in her paperwork. She is from the U.S. but has been in Canada 10 years and married to Adam for three.
But don’t you know? There are rules!
    Some may say it was a terrible mistake, but when I came to Canada in 1969, crossing the border by car at St. Stephen, New Brunswick, my wife and I were asked, “Do you want to be landed?” We had no idea what that meant but said “sure,” and were given a paper or two to fill out. That was it. Some time later we were notified that our Landed Immigrant status had been granted. There was no physical examination, nor great amount of background information required. Certainly no fee at any stage.
    A decade and the launch of Rural Delivery later, I applied for, and was granted, full citizenship. 
    Hundreds of U.S. citizens from “the Boston States” would love to emigrate to Canada, and not just because of Trump. It’s been this way for years. But, as if to bolster the work of growing legions of bureaucrats, the rules, the hurdles, the outright barriers to immigration have blossomed. 
    Unlike honeysuckle, the result is a stench emanating from Ottawa not unlike that from the six-foot-tall blossoming Amorphophallus titanium (Latin for giant malformed penis). This odd plant from the rainforests of Indonesia blooms rarely, and when it does, smells like rotting flesh. Lucky thing it only flowers every six years or so.
    One report we came across on the Internet said only 157 blooms were recorded between 1889 and 2008, and yet “for some unknown reason” there were seven last year in the U.S. No, eight. Trump.
    I can’t leave him alone. The ugly American writ large, as described in the best-seller by that title published in 1958, in which the American diplomat was described as “pretentious, loud, and ostentatious.” We could have our own home-grown example if the run for leadership of the Conservative party dragons-on too long. 

Trump’s environment

Top the mountains,
Frack the depths,
Drill the Arctic,
And devil take the hind-most,
As merrily we turn resources
Into gold toilet seats.
Is there a higher purpose?

     The largest indoor farm show east of Quebec, our own Atlantic Farm Mechanization Show in Moncton, March 9-11, has found a way to fit more exhibitors into the Coliseum than ever before in its history, and yet is sold out again! Congratulations to show manager Frank Reade and the show’s board of directors for bringing 165 exhibitors to the Hub City.
    There is a special up-beat flavour to the Farm Mech Show, making it both fun and informative. No other ag-related event comes close to bringing us all together at a dark time of the year when everyone needs a boost. 
    One neat thing about this event is the overlap with New Brunswick’s spring break, allowing it to be a family affair for people in that province. As time passes and the number of farms continues to shrink, this becomes critically important. “Was a time when there were 10 farms along this road. Now we’re the only one left.” 
    Who said that? Many do and have said that, so we don’t have to pin it on any one farmer. It is the reality, and in an important way it is why this gathering has remained so important.
    As I write, another reality strikes. When it comes to many financial decisions on the farm, he may be in love with the idea of purchasing that new tractor or computer program. She, however, keeps the books.
    (It may be the other way around so far as gender or power structure is concerned. Suffice it to say important financial decisions are a shared responsibility, and at the Farm Show, like as not, all who share in that responsibility are present.)
    When Rural Delivery was just getting started, the late Richard Melanson of Maritime Farm Supply, a key player on the Show’s board of directors, gave us a leg up by allowing a pallet of skinny magazines to be dropped in a back door of the Coliseum. For the next three days we littered the place with our propaganda. What a generous move. I blame Richard for our having survived past our third or whatever early year that was.
    From there, a few shows later, we were offered an information booth on the Agrena floor, while Farm Focus, well established at that point, carried on with their own information booth in the Coliseum. This year DvL Publishing Inc., as publisher of both Rural Delivery and Farm Focus, will be staffing both booths. We look forward to greeting old and new friends and readers of the two publications – one our commodity newspaper, the other our farm and country journal celebrating its 40th year.
    Best wishes to all throughout 2017. DvL