RD June 2014 Letters

Key to good cheese
RD: A couple of years ago I got interested in making my own cheese. After reading several books on the subject I tried my hand using store-bought liquid, and even powdered milk, often mixed with cream. The resultant cheeses varied from passable to quite good but I’m convinced that my success is severely limited by the milk.
    A professional cheese maker from Prince Edward Island was amazed I was able to make cheese from store-bought milk at all. Everything I’ve read points to the quality and freshness of the milk as the overriding key to good cheese. The only problem is, if you’re not a commercial cheese producer, can you buy raw milk from farmers in Nova Scotia? I’d love to hear from any artisan cheese makers among your readers how they deal with the problem. 
Peter McDonald
Mill Cove,N.S.

(Peter, it is against the law to sell unpasteurized milk in Nova Scotia. Also, there is no reason you can not make cheese from store-bought, regular pasteurized milk. Maybe not exactly the cheese you want, but cheeses such as a cheddar, gouda, or cottage can be made from commercially available milk, although at a ridiculously high cost. Lack of cleanliness allowing foreign yeasts and bacteria into a culture are likely a greater problem for home manufacture of cheese. DvL)

Beware buying chicks
RD: I picked up a copy of Rural Delivery at my local Co-op feed store shortly after my arrival in Nova Scotia in 2009 and have been an enthusiastic subscriber ever since.  I purchased a gift subscription for my brother who still lives in Saskatchewan but has bought property near Digby and is very much looking forward to his retirement so he can enjoy Nova Scotia and all it has to offer.
    The articles are ever informative – but some strike closer to home than others. “Living (and laying) history” (April 2014) may prevent someone else from making the novice error I made four years ago in my enthusiasm to obtain my first very own heritage chicks. 
    I knew what I wanted; my brother raised an interesting assortment of fowl. I was always enthralled with the “Easter Egg” chicken – Ameraucanas. I scoured the Kijiji ads to locate sources. I spoke to the seller I had settled on to find out when “my” chicks would be available and waited impatiently. I then drove three hours and paid $6 each for day-old chicks. They were adorable, although only half of them grew up to be Ameraucanas. They may not be purebred but they are still wonderful and they give me endless hours of enjoyment and the best eggs ever.
    I won’t identify where I got them because the person who sold them to me genuinely believed she was selling me purebred Ameraucanas. Had I been more diligent in sourcing my chicks, I may have fared better. It truly is “buyer beware” out there!
Taylor Ross
Carrolls Corner, N.S.

Something’s wrong here
RD: In March of 2012 I purchased a loaf of bread and put it on the shelf in a 20 degrees Celsius room. In December of 2013, I took my grandson (who is younger than the bread) to feed some ducks using about half that loaf. I still have the rest of the bread and it has not turned moldy yet. It says on the wrapper that it has no artificial preservatives. What natural preservative is preventing that bread from growing mold? There seems to be something wrong here. Homemade bread grows mold in about a week.
Charles Jess
Yarmouth, N.S.

(Charles, I’m worried about those ducks! Good question though and maybe readers will have an answer or good guess. DvL)

Many lives for bale twine
RD: We enjoy this magazine and re-read often; and go back to old issues hunting previous information. I much enjoyed the articles on pruning and greenhouses in the March issue. 
    I am always looking for new ways to re-use that string from hay bales. Most livestock owners have an abundance of the stuff and it has to be taken away or the critters too often try to eat it. Re-using the string from large square or round bales is easier than small bales because of the longer lengths available. And it’s free! I use round bale string to reinforce electric twine if it gets tangled; twine won’t short out. We now have string rug-mats, baskets, sandals, toys, cow halters, picket ropes, tow ropes, dog leads, basketball net and garden net, and still the stuff piles up. The last resort to re-use the re-used? Tramp it in that annoying bog hole in the driveway. Don’t use it for this where critters will get feet caught. 
    Keep up the good printed work!
Dee Gano
Tatlayoko Lake, B.C.

(Dee, our friend Donald Henderson routinely winds baling twine into rope for halters and other uses. We published a story about his accomplishments winding rope using a jig powered by an electric drill in the May, 2002 issue of RD. Will check on making it available by email or mail and let you know. DvL)

Corn Hill has ‘em
RD: In the April issue, Brian Purdy asks where he can get “Pumpkin Sweet” apple trees. Corn Hill Nursery sells them, but he would have to go there to get them as they don't mail trees. I don’t have any Pumpkin Sweets, but I bought a couple of “Bailey Sweets” last year.
Mike Hutton
Knowlesville, N.B.

Recalls Pumpkin Sweets
RD: I read the letter (April RD) from Brian Purdy about Pumpkin Sweets. Yes, I have heard of them. I recall my dad buying them, quite possibly at Hebb's (Indian Garden Farm near Bridgewater, N.S.) many years ago. They had a light pumpkin colored skin with a red blush on their cheeks and sweet flesh that also had a light pumpkin color. It was an early apple, arriving in mid to late August, quite large. One was never enough. I also remember having Bough Sweets, (also called sweet Bough) a greener color, sweet flesh, and the same blush. I haven't seen either one in recent years. ‘Tis a pity.
Arthur Anthony
Port Mouton, N.S.

Supreme “comfort food”
RD: I am writing in reference to Brian Purdy’s letter regarding Pumpkin Sweets (April RD), though we called them Punkin Sweets. In Linden, Cumberland County, N.S., there was a farmer, Calvin Angus, who had a huge orchard and there were two trees of those apples. They were the best tasting apples I ever ate.  That farm was then owned by the Newcombe family. As a kid I visited that home often and enjoyed those apples.   The farm now belongs to a Smith family and I have no idea if those apples still grow there or not.
    I now live in Harvey, New Brunswick. My friend and her husband bought an old homestead back on the Swan Road and in the orchard was a tree of these apples. When I tasted that apple I was a kid again. If anyone finds that this variety still exists, and where, I would love to plant one. They were a comfort food supreme.
   Also, does anyone remember Indian Plums? There was a tree or bush that grew on the road to the shore in Linden. I waited each year for the fruits to get ripe. They were purple when ripe and tasted like plums, but they were only about the size of the tip of your thumb. They grew like chokecherries in clusters.
Bev Weeks
Harvey, N.B.

No time for dudes?
RD: I was taken aback by the sexist tone of the blaring headline of the April 2014 issue of RD: “CHICKS: raise your own for eggs, meat, or fun.” What about us DUDES? What do we get to do? 
Larry Burkam
Maplewood, N.S.

Old breeds “foraging machines!”
RD: Great articles on raising chickens this month. I have had the pleasure of keeping a small flock – 15 hens at the moment – for a few years now. I raised my first batch of Buff Orpingtons over 20 years ago. At the time I had to purchase them from the U.S. After a long hiatus in the city, we returned to our rural roots and started raising birds for meat and eggs right away. I have Buff Orpingtons again along with Speckled Sussex, and Black Giants (aka Jersey Giants). The Giants have turned out to be the most persevering brooders and fantastic mothers in the flock. It was such a joy to see 10 out of 10 eggs hatch out successfully last spring with no fatalities. I find the heritage breeds to be much hardier than the hybrids, and they’re foraging machines.
    Rural Delivery is living up to its name, and I never fail to enjoy the diversity of topics, devouring my copy from cover to cover with each issue. 
Rose Doucet
Barnesville, N.B.

(PS. Thanks for the fracking articles in the January/February issue. We are facing some tough times in rural New Brunswick. I'm heartbroken over our government's unwillingness to listen to reason and its determination to sell out to the oil and gas industry.)

How times change
RD: Thank you for the copies of Rural Delivery. It was a hoot seeing my old chicken feed recipe (April RD) that we had to make and comparing that with today when all I have to do is trot down to the feed store and pick up a bag of Otter Co-op certified organic layer mash. 
    Back in 1977 I couldn't even charge as much money for my free range, non-medicated fed eggs as grocery store eggs because people didn't like the “strong” yolks. Now I can sell my free-range, organic fed surplus eggs for a premium well above the grocery store price.  How times have changed!
Linda Gilkeson
Salt Spring Island, B.C.

Good as a trip south
RD: We look forward to every issue, always good information and interesting things to keep us informed. Keep up the good work. It’s been a long drawn out winter, but the last few days have been as good as a trip down South. Sunshine and warm breezes. The frogs are peeping and loons back in the lakes. Wonderful!
Bill and Mary Alexander
New Germany, N.S.

Amazing Grace
RD: Many thanks for your wonderful Rural Delivery. It’s tops. Looking forward to our next delivery. We read it cover to cover. I’m glad you published “The old Spinning Wheel.” I sang that song at a Christmas concert our Sand Valley School, SS #7, Charlotteville, put on. Many thanks to our wonderful teacher, Mrs. Grace Huson, who taught grade one through eight in a one-room school and put on a Christmas concert each year.
L.A. Polischuk
Simcoe, Ont.

A mess of pancakes
RD: I enjoyed Sharon Cunningham’s letter (May RD) inquiring about the buckwheat pancake recipe. I do not have the recipe that she wanted, but I remember my father telling me a story about the pancake batter pitcher. He grew up in Prosser Brook and had many siblings. They, too, had to keep the pancake batter from freezing in their house. 
    One night his mother, knowing it was to be freezing cold, sent the pitcher to bed with my father and his brothers to keep it from freezing in the kitchen. And yes the cover did come off and the entire batter spilled in the bed! What a mess they had then! I recall him telling this story many times and getting a big laugh every time he told it. I really enjoy the old time stories and love to hear them. 
    I really love Rural Delivery; my husband and I read it from cover to cover. Keep up the good work!
Sandra Young
Petitcodiac, N.B.

(Sandra, Sharon: See page 30 for  buckwheat pancake recipes. DvL )