RD March 2015 Letters

Well circulated
RD: Please find enclosed a cheque for a three year subscription to Rural Delivery. I pass each issue on to my mother, who says it reminds her of the Family Herald. It next goes to a lady who is in a seniors’ home so each issue is enjoyed by many. My mother is 92 and often remarks that old habits (composting, canning, recycling) are coming back, giving her hope for generations to come. Continued success to all.
Thelma Phillips
Ellerslie, P.E.I.

(Thelma, we like to hear about copies of Rural Delivery getting passed around. I wonder what individual subscriber copy gets handed off to the greatest number of readers. DvL) 

Favorite mechanic
RD: What a surprise to see my favorite mechanic, John Nice, featured in George Fullerton’s latest contribution (“Have tools, will travel”).  It was a nice gesture that John would mention the folks at Hall’s, as well.  As someone who loved the farm I got to know Ted Hall and his two sons, Ralph and Gordon.
    Today you won’t find much in the way of farm gear at Hall’s, but there are still two sons, Russel and Wesley, to cater to those who need the usual expertise made famous by their fathers and grandfather.
    John has worked here under an umbrella when rain or snow was pelting down, and has (even) turned around on his way home when a better remedy for some problem on my old Kubota came to mind.  His sons, mentioned by George, are also musical, and contribute to the community as swimming instructors at a local school pool.  Our two grandkids are among their many enthusiastic pupils.  Nice Mechanics?  You bet and nice folks, as well.
Sandy McAllister
Cambridge-Narrows, N.B.

Whose are they?
RD: Just received “Rural Delivery” (fantastic, as usual), which reminded me to ask you who your illustrator is. The watercolor/ink illustrations that
are dotted throughout are beautiful, funny, and extremely well-done. I’ve looked for the illustrator’s name but never found it. Thanks very much.
Pam Heath
Notre-Dame-de-Lîle-Perrot, QC

(Pam, the scribbles are mine and as you are the second person in the past month to ask – the other spent a lot of time looking on the Internet, figuring they were stock illustrations from somewhere or other – maybe it is time to take responsibility by initialing them. DvL)

    In our October 2014, issue we published a photo of Olen d’Entremont at work knitting a herring net at the Acadian historic village in Lower West Pubnico, Nova Scotia. To treat the net he had a bottle of catechu, something used by fishermen in the past. What was the recipe? Full strength? Diluted? If cooked, how long? Subscriber Richard Buggeln adds to what we know about catechu in the letter that follows. As for a recipe, the quest continues. DvL

RD: You’ll not believe this, but I just ordered one pound of “Black catechu” from a small company in Toronto! The following is a “shaggy dog” story which begins in Honolulu, Hawaii, in the early 1960s when I was a graduate student at the University of Hawaii. 
    I befriended a fellow student, Milton Murashige, who was an avid sport fisherman and who also “tied” his own throw nets!  Milton drew comprehensive and very detailed instructions (three pages, which I still have!) for tying a throw net.  
    At that time, linen twine was used and it had to be treated to retard rotting.  I spoke with Milton a few nights ago and he confirmed that we treated our nets with a very foul smelling (like vomit), brownish liquid made from persimmon berries.  This liquid came in quart bottles from Japan.  Nets were placed in pails and the berry juice was poured over them, covering them completely; nets sat in the juice for several days before taking them out and drying them in the sun.
    Now we fast-forward to 1969 when I first arrived in Halifax, still interested in sport fishing and net-tying.  At that time, linen twine was unavailable (to me), so I made a smelt net out of twisted synthetic line.  Still, I was very interested in what local fisherman used to treat their linen and cotton nets, many of which were still in use.  They told me they used “cutch,” a name which I remembered (who knows why?).
    Two years ago I met Olen d’Entremont at Le Village Historique Acadien de la Nouvelle-Ecosse (see Rural Delivery, October 2014, pg. 42), a delightful man. During our chat about old time net tying, he mentioned the net preservative, “catechu,”a name which I had not heard before. After a little research I learned that indeed catechu, extracted from the bark of a species of Acacia tree found in South East Asia, e.g., Indonesia, has other common names, including “cutch.”
    I am guessing that nets would have been boiled in catechu; from bottles like the one Mr. d’Entremont has, or which arrived as a powder or in brick-like form from Asia and then was dissolved by boiling in a vat of water. The net boiling process would have occurred periodically as the tannin would slowly leach out of nets when they were in the water, and over time the preservative benefit of the catechu would be lost.
    What is interesting to me is the contrasting historical connections which lead to net-treating substances being sourced from two different places; S. East Asia and Japan. I hypothesize that the Maritimes and New England states carried on trade with S. East Asia, thus sourcing catechu from there where the liviers in that part of the world probably discovered and developed it for their own net/fabric preserving purposes. 
    A possible explanation for sourcing an equally potent net preservative, persimmon juice, from Japan is more straightforward.  Thousands of laborers were brought from Japan to Hawaii to work in the sugar cane fields during the last half of the 19th century. Workers with net-tying skills and a bent for fishing would have known about persimmon juice from back home. Voila!
Richard Buggeln
Lower Three Fathom Harbour, N.S.

“Tractor Book” takes a bath
RD: Please send me another year’s subscription of your magazine. Also, one for my parents. As you can see, in the enclosed photo; they are enjoyed by all.
    My nine-year-old grandson often leaves the bathroom door open so he can watch tv while taking a bath. Once, I snapped this picture, while investigating as to why he was in there so long! This only happens after we receive “The Tractor Book” as he calls it.
Bonnie Cabel
Napan, N.B.

Turkey doings
RD: An excellent article (“Pot Luck, Jan./Feb, 2015). Here is a bit more information about what has been going on.
    Last spring they (the Nova Scotia Turkey Marketing Board) began telling people that it was against regulations to sell or even give away so much as one turkey if you did not have a license through them, even though the Turkey Marketing Regulations clearly state, “These regulations shall not apply to any producer who markets less than 25 turkeys in any control period.” 
    They even forced anyone buying turkey poults to sign a “Purchaser Guarantor Agreement” which stated that they would not sell any turkeys. Gordon Fraser’s shop was not the only place told to stop processing turkeys or face a $5,000 fine. There were many more across the province. Another local processor came home to find the TMB Inspector had gone through his shop and barns, even his freezer, then left a letter sitting on his counter. 
    Even though vendors of turkey poults would collect and submit the $1 per poult levy, they (TMB) sent an invoice for that same levy to the out-of-province supplier who supplied many of the vendors. As a result, this supplier will no longer do business in N.S., making it much more difficult to find poults to sell this spring.
    Unfortunately for small farmers, the TMB has found a good friend in Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell. Any question asked of Mr. Colwell get the standard response, “It’s about food safety” – if it gets any response at all. He has also stated in interviews that government had no authority to stop small processors like Gordon Fraser, but the TMB does have that authority, and he fully supports them. Mr. Colwell has also said that he is meeting with the TMB to change the regulations and hopes to have them in place by spring, he has declined every invitation to speak with farmers on this issue. Is it any wonder small farmers in this province are getting nervous?
Mike Sangster
Scotch Hill, Pictou County, N.S.

Like small farm articles
RD: I just received the latest copy of RD. I can tell you it makes my day as I very much enjoy reading every page. I started receiving RD after meeting two of your faithful readers, Shirley and Don, from Nova Scotia, while on vacation some years back. We haven’t missed a magazine since. I am particularly interested in small farm articles as we farm 50 acres in Ontario. We have visited N.S. a number of times and never hesitate to go again when we can. Thanks again for a wonderful magazine! 
Gerald and Mary Townsend 
Arthur, Ont.

(Thanks to you, Gerald and Mary – and to your friends Shirley and Don for introducing you to Rural Delivery. I’m sure readers would like to hear about your 50-acre farm up there in the wilds of Ontario, should you have time to write one of these long winter nights. DvL)