RD Pot Luck October 2018

Value added

Adding value to resources is the way of Canada’s economic future. Opportunities abound. Just how they abound came to me the other day while weeding the asparagus patch. Crawling through the thicket of ferns, I wore a hole in the knee of my britches. Ordinarily, this might call for artful patching. However, with value-added in mind, I’m thinking a better bet will be to run the trousers through the wash and donate them to Value Village. VV can hang them on their fashionable jeans rack and watch the mad scramble for a legitimately worn-out garment.

Hefting hay bales, hitching them up by knee to throw on the wagon, quickly transforms a standard pair of pants into threads much coveted by indigent urban wannabes. Where’s the imagination to tap into that market? (Where are there square bales and folks to throw them?)

Repairing clothes and many other things is long out of fashion. All the same, I can’t believe a fix-it shop patching jeans, darning socks, turning collars, etc., would not find a slew of customers. Clothes are no longer manufactured with repair in mind. Same holds for bedding. Fitted sheets, for example. Once they’re threadbare, their sleepwear days are over. There was a time when a well-worn flat sheet could and would – by frugal and resourceful homemakers – be ripped down the middle, its less-worn outside edges sewn together, adding useful life to what otherwise became a drop cloth or garden drape.

As for garden drapes, frost visited northerly corners of New England and the Maritimes the first week of September, no doubt turning garden landscapes into patchworks of sheets, tarps, and whatever else might protect tender vegetables. Meanwhile, the western end of Nova Scotia’s South Shore suffers through a well-sucking drought. Come on, Flo! Bring us some rain.

No one wishes more for a destructive hurricane than Donald Trump, who apparently unleashed a (Twitter) storm of denial and protest following publication of Bob Woodward’s book about the presidency, titled Fear. Anything to re-direct public attention. Better a whopping hurricane than a forceful intervention in, say, Venezuela or North Korea, or Iran; or throw a dart at a world map.

Mr. Trump benefitted from the recent unfortunate actions of a Canadian diplomat and a normally highly-regarded newspaper. The diplomatic faux pas was Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s use of her Twitter account to publicly scold Saudi Arabia for its abysmal civil rights record – specifically the imprisonment and treatment of Raif and Samar Badawi.

Regardless of the offense, using Twitter to try changing a foreign country’s actions runs counter to the meaning of diplomacy, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as, “Skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility.” Trump’s bullying way, unsavoury as it is, may work for him. He carries a big stick. For us to follow suit is wrong, silly, and counter-productive. It says to the world that we think Trump has a good idea about how to conduct foreign policy.

How about scotching the deal to sell the Saudis armoured vehicles, and letting it be known through proper diplomatic channels why the action is taken?

As for newspaper screw-ups, the New York Times’ publication of an unsigned scathing criticism of the president was a doozy. What better way to give credence to dangerous accusations that the press can’t be trusted? Why would they do it? I’ve a theory that the Times feared losing ground to the Washington Post in the wake of hoopla over Woodward’s book. Desperate to stay in the “dump Trump” game, they threw good judgement to the wind.

I can’t leave Trump without mentioning NAFTA, and the president’s unfounded attacks on M•I•L•K. United States dairy farmers produce millions of gallons more milk than the population consumes. As a result, store prices are depressed and the industry looks for overseas markets.

Supply management buoys the price of dairy products in Canada. The U.S. dairy industry drools at the thought of access. Might there be another answer? In the summer issue of Farming magazine, writer and philosopher Wendell Berry supports the idea of supply management for U.S. dairy farmers.

One wonders if our NAFTA negotiating team has put that proposal on the table. This is doubtful. More likely, more concessions will be granted, chipping away at supply management – as happened in negotiating the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the Europeans. We will all end up contributing, as happened in the aftermath of CETA, to a compensation package intended to quiet angry farmers in the short term.

In the long term, I’ve doubts supply management in dairy or poultry will be around a decade or two from now. Too many negative forces – illuminated in Berry’s essay – are laying waste to small farms and rural economies across North America.

I have issues with supply management, and I think change is in order – to curb the sale of quota to ever-larger farms, and to open more doors to newcomers.At the same time, it rankles that we may alter how we do things in Canada under threats from Trump.

Closer to home, a sad note from northern New Brunswick: Peter Vido, of Lower Kintore, known to many readers for his unmatched support of all things related to hand mowing, has died at age 68. Word came to us Sept. 13 by way of Peter Redden, who writes, “I don’t know if you heard, but a friend of ours passed away this year. I’m not sure exactly when, but Peter Vido, according to his brother Alex, is ‘a mower no more.’ The hand mowing community has lost an incredibly great resource and worldwide promoter of scything.... There is a little post on the http://scytheworks.ca site from Alex.”

A bountiful harvest to all, and keep those sheets handy these coming cold nights. DvL