RD Jan-Feb 2016 Letters

Taking time
RD: What an excellent article “Efficient enough” (RD Dec. 2015). Right on, extremely important to remember. It goes along with making time to sit and stare with mouth open in appreciation of a rainy day during haying, or a snow day when all the kids stayed home.
Marty Alpert
Antigonish, N.S.

Pleasure to read
RD: I just have to tell you that Gary L. Saunders’ article “Mars, anyone” (RD Nov. 2015) is about the best I’ve read on our collective situation on planet earth. It was so well-written, informative without ranting, and a pleasure to read and to contemplate. Rural Delivery continues to surprise and delight this Alberta subscriber (married to a Cape Bretoner). Thank You!  
“Bob’n the dogs” Chelmick
Onoway, Alta.

Perfect card
RD: I haven’t gotten further than the cover of the December issue of Rural Delivery but I just had to write and ask if you would ever consider using that sketch and making Christmas cards (for next year, of course). I send very few cards now and I’m very particular (some call it picky) about what I choose to send. This would be perfect!
Betty Thibodeau
West Quaco, N.B. 

(Fun to think, Betty, what might be lifted from December cover illustrations going back to 1976 and suitable for a card. Thank you for the idea. DvL)

On creating wealth
RD: I would like to offer a refinement to (Ed Deak’s) comment about wealth in the latest (RD  Dec.) “Pot Luck” offering. I offer that wealth is created every day by the planet/universe, with or without human intervention. Someone once proffered that agriculture accounts for 70 percent of all new wealth created in most cultures. When one sees the transformation of a seed into an edible vegetable/grain/fruit one can only marvel at how the world creates this wealth. The other resource sectors (forestry, fishing, mining, oil/gas extraction) account for the other 30 percent.
    We can only manipulate the creation of this wealth through our behavior. Trees will grow, animals will reproduce, and oil will continue to form if we just let it be. Our role in this wealth must be one in which we help create conditions for it to continue ad infinitum. Our current behavior is not working. From sick forests, run-out agricultural land, over-fished oceans, etc., we have done a poor job to date.
    I read that when Nova Scotia joined Confederation it was the richest province. I do believe it was because of our abundant natural resources and our willingness to extract them and sell them around the globe. We are now one of the poorest, or so the economists of the world would have us believe. We still have the land base and most of the natural resources, albeit somewhat diminished from past centuries. What we need to do is recognize that wealth is not the accumulation of money but the increase in capital of our natural resources.
    Brian Ives spoke to young farmers many years ago about increasing the wealth on the farm. I was ready for another lecture on economics but was pleasantly surprised to hear him equate wealth with soil fertility. He encouraged us to increase the health and fertility of the soil and animals on the farm. That 70 percent of new wealth created can only come from healthy, sustainable farms. Our dominant current paradigm uses more wealth from the resource sectors than it creates on the farm, a negative energy/wealth equation. Great when fuel was cheap and soil was fresh and rich, but not sustainable in the long term.
Doug Brown
Granville Ferry, N.S.

More Fred!
RD: I have never been a farmer, except for a small patch in the backyard. I enjoy reading your magazine, I find it contains a lot of good reading. However, could we possibly hear from Fred Isenor’s “Echoes” a little more? We enjoy his column immensely as we are both long time, die-hard music fans, especially of country music. My wife enjoys the recipes and tries one once in a while. Thanks again for a great magazine, keep up the good work.
Alfred Poirier
Cap-Aux-Meules, Que.

(Alfred, we are sure Fred will appreciate your note as he convalesces in the eight-bed Musquodoboit Hospital where he has been since before Christmas after taking a fall down stairs that resulted in a badly broken left leg – more in Pot Luck, DvL) 

Spreading good news
RD: Issue after issue, Rural Delivery arrives and I devour every article. I have a dog, two cats, two vegetable gardens, and do my own landscaping, maintaining stone walls primarily; usually something in RD covers some of those. Oh, I’m also an avid birder, but beyond all that, here’s what I find interesting. I read stuff that doesn’t relate directly to my own situation at all, be it chickens, tractors, or boats. However, the people and their lives are what grab my attention, and how authentic and well written their stories are. Thank you so much for spreading such good news in these difficult times.
David Walmark
Rose Bay, N.S.

For robins, 
for ourselves
RD: In regards to the letter about robins in the spring (RD  Dec.) I noticed that the robins came as per usual this spring. I never really noticed them much during the summer and this fall I hardly saw one in my yard up here in the Hanwell area of Fredericton.
    My good friends Arnold and Joanne in the Upper Vaughan area of Nova Scotia talked to me about their spring robins arriving to snow and no food supply, so they fed them berries and worms that they purchased. On a visit to their home in the fall I commented on the amount of beautiful berries on their giant holly bush and we talked about the reason: No robins were eating them as they had always done in the past.
    I wanted to pass this along and jog everyone’s memory to not miss the opportunity to take responsibility to get at it and turn these events around by becoming a better guardian of our planet for both the robins and ourselves. This is a great magazine and I look forward to saving some ink and passing my copies along for others to enjoy. Thanks and a big “Hello” to my friends in Upper Vaughan.
Ken Salter
Hanwell, N.B.

A bone to pick
RD: “Wearing my woolies” (RD  Dec.), was a nice, albeit sentimental, memory of woolen knitting. But I do have a bone to pick with Coburn’s comment, “My mother and grandmother were both masters; seeing somebody knitting reminds me of comfort and home and loved ones missed. It’s something I see younger people doing less and less, a skill that was once so commonplace becoming less known, like many of the so-called country skills.”    
    His ignorance about the skill of knitting is so great that I don’t know where to begin. First of all, knitting is not a “country” skill, although it is an ancient skill. Second, young people, both women and men, are taking it up with great enthusiasm. Just check the shelves of your local magazine or bookstore, or public library. Hundreds of new books on the subject are being published every day. Our library here in Shelburne, N.S., just ordered 10 new knitting books. Knitters are learning new techniques and working with new yarns (linen, silk, camel, hemp) as well as all kinds of wool from all over the world.
    This is just the beginning. Perhaps it was RD’s ignorance about the subject that set my knitting group (made up of about 25 women) astir with indignation. Readers have been asking for knitting patterns in RD for as along as the magazine has been in print. How about listening to our interest. Maybe Coburn might then realize his mistake.
Susan Hoover
Shelburne, N.S.

PS: My friend Vicki just finished a pair of trigger mitts for a local hunter!

(Susan, there you go. Make one small slip in a knitting pattern and a mitten turns into a mitt with a digit! More seriously, in addition to concern about who would proof-read a pattern to make sure we did not lead knitters afray, it may be that we simply have failed to invite knitters to step up with ideas for stories about knitting and needles and fibers and blends. There must be lots to talk about and ideas to share aside from patterns. DvL)

Stoking fear
RD: Glad to read your perspective on refugees. I couldn’t agree more. I find it damn shameful U.S.A. is so fearful and must screen even more thoroughly. It now takes years to get through the system. The refugees are just that, refugees!
    And I too hate the damn newscasters adding to the fear.
Happy New year.
Punch Woods
Tucson, Arizona

Hulling barley
RD: I have heard the first grain that man ate in Europe was barley. I would like to know how they took the hull off the barley in them times – not the modern way today. Also I wanted to know if you have an old cookbook back from the early days, what the price would be for it.
George Young
Matheson, Ont.

(George, the “Rural Deli Cookbook” that we offer (see book page 27) is a collection of recipes from our readers in earlier days of the magazine.  These tested recipes are for delicious foods made from ingredients found in most kitchens. As for hulling barley, don’t know but among our readers we can hope for an answer. DvL)

Taking our pulse
RD: I really enjoyed and appreciated Av Singh’s article in the December Rural Delivery: “Saving our world, one small farm at a time.” I’ve just written a book with a similar “saving the world” theme that is called “The Power of Pulses: Saving The World with Peas, Beans, Chickpeas, Favas and Lentils.” It will be out this spring and is distributed by Douglas & McIntyre.
    As Av says, agriculture is a large part of the climate change problem and a key part of the solution. If we consider that more than half of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to agriculture and our global food system, then, if we are to really address climate change, we must consider the foods we eat and how we grow them.
    I agree totally with Av that it’s high time that agricultural policies should be restructured to favor small-scale agriculture. I agree too with the December editorial (“Pot Luck”) that talks about encouraging migrant farm workers to become Canadian farmers.
    After 30 years of considering the best all-around crops to grow for a local and sustainable agriculture, I still believe that pulses head the list and that they should become a more substantial part of our diet.
    Pulses have a lot going for them. They renew and enrich the soil by simply growing. They can be easily cultivated without herbicides or pesticides. Highly nutritious, they are gluten-free and totally digestible – if you don’t eat beans that have been sitting in stores for a long time. They have a 10,000-year track record of feeding people sustainably and well. At the end of the day, they put a lot of money in your pocket if you’re buying them instead of meat or dairy products.
    One of my most surprising discoveries as a seedsman happened just two years ago. I learned that Canada had become the world’s largest exporter of pulses. We grow them for many other countries, where they are highly valued, but we hardly appreciate them ourselves. In fact we, consume less than 10 percent of what we grow.
    Our farmers are obviously already adept at growing pulses. If Canadian consumers learned how to appreciate them as does much of the rest of the world, that would go a long way towards an agricultural system that is “climate smart.”
Dan Jason
Salt Spring Seeds

(Dan, we look forward to seeing your new book. Please ask Douglas & McIntyre to send us a review copy. Have to add, though, that I do like an all-meat frank with my beans. DvL)