RD Pot Luck Jan-Feb 2019

The big chill

Oh so cold this morning. Mist rises in dense clouds on the horizon, generated by the warmer water of the Gulf Stream that slips closer to our South Shore this time of year. So I have been told, yet never asked my fishing neighbours who no doubt would know, for they push into those clouds most mornings during lobster season.

Not this morning, though. Despite record prices being paid at the wharf, I think it is too cold even for these men who are relatively insensitive to pain. I see no sign of boats out there, although by sunrise perhaps some are already far off to sea.

Since late fall leading up to the solstice, this winter has been unusually cold. The wood supply is shrinking at a disturbing clip. Gary Saunders, frequent and much appreciated contributor to these pages (and those of Atlantic Forestry Review), dropped us a note in which he mused about the pleasure he gets out of splitting wood. That reminded me that I have wood cut to length for the furnace, waiting to be split. It also reminded me of the satisfaction that can come of splitting frozen wood when it fairly explodes from internal pressure, like a can of well shaken pop.

And so, instead of hooking the tractor up to my old and trusty Hall Brothers hydraulic splitter, I chose the maul from among the assortment of hand tools inside the barn door. As I advanced on the pile of billets, I convinced myself that in no time I’d have them split to manageable size and stacked neatly by the furnace.

Fat chance of that. The billets are not stove-length but closer to 30 inches long. That makes quite a difference. A bigger difference yet was the fellow wielding the maul. No longer the spring chicken. More of a fall crow. I did manage to bust up a couple of them before remembering it was time for a cup of tea.

A cup of tea and a moment to reflect on current events. Chilling indeed. I fear this fellow Trump is setting the stage for a fascist state. Maybe not intentionally – but I have read that Mussolini did not altogether plan what became of his Italy. Rather, it grew out of civil unrest and the chicanery of people around him who saw the chance to shape events to their own ends. Among opportunists in Trump’s camp, Steve Bannon comes quickly to mind.

The record-long partial shutdown of the U.S. government is so unreasonable. Each day it drags on, we are closer to a blow-up. (Canada is so much in bed with the elephant that events south of the border are indeed a “we” consideration.)

Walls seldom, if ever, serve their intended purpose, maybe because they are erected without enough forethought. Robert Frost raised that in his poem, “Mending Wall.”

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offence.”

All reasonable questions aside, historians battle to this day over whether or not the Great Wall of China was a success keeping the Huns at bay. Without question, the Maginot Line didn’t prevent Hitler’s military overrunning France.

On the other hand, consider the future value of Trump’s monument as a tourist attraction. The Great Wall is up there with the Taj Mahal on the bucket list of legions of world travellers, followed closely by that Maginot Line. Bits of the Berlin Wall, another failure, have become treasured paperweights.

Should all hell break loose in the Excited States, think what a bonanza lies ahead when we in Canada build our wall to keep the refugees and “bad hombres” out. It will be twice as long, from New Brunswick to British Columbia! Will we make the Yanks pay for it, too? That may be asking too much.

Trump says Mexico will pay for his wall by dint of his re-negotiated free trade deal – the one that left Canada swinging in the wind and having to allow more U.S. over-produced dairy product into our country. Canadians are paying for that gift now in restitution to our dairy farmers for their loss of domestic market.

Some Scotsman, maybe Michael Forbes (the holdout small farmer on land Trump wants for a mega golf course and housing development), complained that the trouble with the U.S. president is “no one ever told him ‘No!’”

Wish our free trade negotiating team had said “no” to further chipping away at our dairy industry. Instead, as suggested in an earlier “Pot Luck,” we should have insisted the U.S. consider supply management rather than encouraging never-ending expanded production. Even now, many smaller dairy farmers in that country are being forced out of business as production continues to exceed market demand – driven by mega-dairies dependent upon foreign workers, numbers of them likely undocumented.

As if this were not enough to discourage an aging dairy farmer, should the new Canadian Food Guide be adopted as it is now written, circumstances can be expected to become grimmer still. This is because the guide promotes vegetable proteins over beef. There is a connection. Your last fast-food burger was likely derived from a cull dairy cow. Without that market for beef, dairy margins are further skimmed.

Time to stuff more wood in the furnace. Pay no attention to my rants. Happy New Year. DvL