RD May Letters 2016

The source of seeds
RD: Has Rural Delivery thought of doing a story on the seed business, both international and local? Apparently there are two or three companies in the world which own most of the seed businesses. Seeds are grown in large acreages all over the world, maybe South Africa, maybe Israel, depending on climate for maximum production. Seed companies large and small order from these sources, then grow the seeds out in trials to see which ones work best in our climate. 
    To make ends meet, some small local seed companies may also be ordering some of their seeds from the same sources, repackaging, and not saying much about it. If you go to a Seedy Saturday event assuming that all seeds on offer are grown locally, you may be wrong. Some are and some aren’t. Apparently there’s more money in merchandising than in growing seed. 
Catherine Pross
Indian Path, Lunenburg, N.S.

(Catherine: A good suggestion. I am reminded of an account in a recent issue of Farming magazine (Mount Hope, Ohio) from a young intern on an organic farm in the U.S. who had to quit his good job when he was expected to repackage produce from far off places to look as if it was local farm-grown.  It may be worth simply looking the purveyor in the eye and asking, where was this grown? Where does this seed come from? DvL)

Two-dog mittens
RD: Just a note to say how much I enjoyed the recent issue of RD – even more than usual. Yesterday I turned an old wool pullover sweater into two dog sweaters, two pairs of mittens, a pair of baby boots, and several Christmas tags to put away until next December. And I have been turning plastic shampoo bottles and the like into a variety of useful little gadgets – Pinterest has been very helpful with “upcycling.”
    My husband says the secret to really good bread is the shortening – not margarine or lard or butter, but shortening.
Monica Graham
Scotsburn, N.S.

Grind your own
RD: Always enjoy my Rural Delivery! And the articles. I have a special interest in “The daily grind” by Jane Fowler (April 2016). I have been making my own bread for years, since my dear wife had to stop due to a heart problem. I refuse, so far, to be without my good, “very good,” homemade whole bread.
    As it is getting more difficult to get whole flour, except in very small expensive quantities, I am most interested in grinding my own. If possible, I would like to be able to contact Jane Fowler for more information on grinding my own flour. I will give you my email address and if you could pass it along to Jane I would greatly appreciate it. If she cares to contact me I would be very grateful.
Jim Carter
Pugwash, N.S.

(For you, Jim, and others who may wish to know more about the remarkable things Jane Fowler and her husband, John, do on their farm in Bear River, N.S., we recommend following the “Blueberry Hills Farm” link at www.RuralLife.ca. Incidentally, a story about John’s woodlot management and fine woodworking appeared in the March issue of Atlantic Forestry Review. DvL)

Vole free, at last!
RD: This is in answer to the vole problem that Bruce Blakemore mentioned in the past issue (Letters, RD April). I had the same problem for years. Voles were eating 150 lbs. of vegetables a year in my garden. I tried a variety of cures to combat the problem, including the castor oil mixture which worked for a few years, but it didn’t solve the problem. 
    I then saw an article in my seed catalog that suggested using an electronic vole and gopher repeller. I bought four and installed them in my garden (3,000 square feet), and last year was the first my garden was vole free.
    The unit is battery operated, costs $24.95, and is available from T&T Seeds, Box 1710, Winnipeg, Man, R3C 3P6. Phone 204-895-9962. 
    On a lighter note, on your page about country music from the past (“Echoes”), I would be interested in seeing any information on Smiley Bates. I bought a few CDs of his and really enjoyed them.     
Mike Pachara
Cranbrook, B.C.

Rare birds
RD: Re. Alyson Champ’s letter (“Rare breeds collage,” RD April). Paid a visit to Gordon McCarthy in Snow Road Station, Ontario. He’s been trying and recently sold a spare pair of Beltsville Small White turkeys. He’s a regular on “Lacey’s Trading Post,” on Lake 88.1 FM (Perth) every Saturday morning. These birds can be traced back to the University of Guelph flock.
Craig Bolton
Smith Falls, Ont.

Thanks, Shirley
RD: I would like to pass along a thank-you to Shirley McGill of Grand Bay, New Brunswick. She submitted a recipe for bread pudding a few issues ago. It had been a few years since I had made bread pudding for my husband so I decided to make this recipe and he loved it. Now I make it about once a week. I make it with almond milk which I make myself and I use only 1/3 cup sugar, but otherwise I follow Shirley’s recipe. Thank you, Shirley.
    We both look forward to and enjoy Rural Delivery and we have shared our issues with friends. There are always interesting and informative articles and we learn something with each issue. Thank you for such a good magazine. When I was growing up on a farm, we used to get the Family Herald. Everyone looked forward to it and there was something in it for everyone, even for the kids. I was wondering if it might be a good idea to have a page for the kids now and then. 
Trish Allin
Upper Derby, N.B.

(Trish, thank you. How do you make your own almond milk? I have bags of stale bread in the freezer and must call up Shirley McGill’s recipe for bread pudding. And please, you and other subscribers, do share your copy with friends. The cost of mailing is outrageous. The answer? Pass it on! Give a copy of Rural Delivery such circulation it becomes a tattered shadow of its former self. DvL)

Prefers “home-grown” stories
RD: Rural Delivery continues to interest and entertain me. 
    In the March issue Anne Mol suggested, in “Letters to RD,” some subjects for future publications. In fact, in past years you have published the types of articles Anne suggested. For example, you printed articles that I submitted including “A Boy, His Dad and a Chicken” (Sept. 1996), and “Make Your Own Pruning Saw” (April 1997). “Lee Valley now sells the blade and handle to make such a saw, and suggests a hockey stick will work for the handle.) Plus many other stories by a variety of people.
    Over the years there has been a steady increase in articles by “professional” writers, writing about other people and their activities. In all honesty, the earlier content mix was preferred. I am in total agreement with Anne’s suggestions. Thank you for your consideration. 
H.A.H. Pamplin
Elgin, Ont.

New boots!
RD: Regarding “Pot Luck” in Rural Delivery (Mar. 2016), Little Hope Island light, Port Mouton, “a victim of rising waters and a subsiding continent.” 
    We’re constantly bombarded by global warming and climate change media hype. Can anyone provide unbiased statistics to prove the Atlantic Ocean has risen or Nova Scotia has subsided? I’d like to know before I buy new rubber boots.  
Jim Marr
Moncton, N.B.

(Jim, at low tide the beach below my house exposes ancient peat bogs and the stumps of old trees emerge through the sand. I’ve a pair of hip waders hanging in the shed, just in case. DvL)

No fueling
RD: Fascinating article about recycling (“Midden,” RD April). We’ve been using more fuel, trucking plastics and aluminum, than are contained in materials.
    I asked a recycling truck driver last year why the beer cans aren’t supposed to be flattened. He said: “We get to make more trips if the cans are round.” Kinda like the Oil Sands. . . Using more light fuel to remove the heavy fuel from the ground.
    Anyway, thanks for your article. Now I don’t feel guilty for using plastic for starting bonfires instead of buying kerosene.
Phil Thompson
Musquodoboit, N.S.

(Strictly for “ceremonial purposes,” right Phil?  DL)

Farm and food poems
RD: Anne Mol’s letter in the March 2016 issue of Rural Delivery requested stories that were reminiscent, and re-told stories from the past. I think she would enjoy “Open Heart Farming,” poems by residents of Nova Scotia related to farming and food. 
    I like to think of the poems as “kernels” of stories; it never fails to amaze me how (in few words) a poem can evoke such strong memories and emotions. I recommend poems by some people I consider farm elders, such as Lois Brison-Brown, Sylvia Mangalam, and Ed Belzer. I hope Anne and others will enjoy reminiscing with these and other poets. Four issues of “Open Heart Farming” are on the web. 
Mary Ellen Sullivan
Open Heart Farming poetry harvester
Halifax, N.S.
PS: Residents of Nova Scotia reading this before the deadline of April 29, please consider submitting a poem for our 2016 issue.

(To read past issues of “Open Heart Farming” or for details about submitting a poem for the 2016 issue follow the link by that name at RuralLife.ca.)