RD: Thanks for printing my letter as a thank-you to Shirley McGill re. her bread pudding recipe. I have a batch in the oven as I’m writing this. My neighbor Alonzo Sturgeon and I were surprised to each find the other’s submission in your magazine this month (RD May). A happy coincidence.
You asked how I make almond milk. This is what I do: I soak my California almonds (don’t use regular almonds, only those labeled California almonds, available at Bulk Barn) in a quart jar of water overnight in the refrigerator. They can stay there for several days, but you will need to rinse them each day. When you're ready to make almond milk, rinse the almonds six times with cold water. When I first started making almond milk, I used my blender, but as I found myself making it almost every day, we bought a Soyajoy G3 (soy milk maker). This machine is great, easy to use and clean, and I have been using it for four years now with no problems. We bought it online. It takes about three minutes from the time you start the machine until you have almond milk. Then you strain the milk (strainer and accessories included), add vanilla and a bit of honey if preferred, and that's it. Rinse the machine. Dry.
I also dry the leftover almond pulp and grind it in a coffee bean grinder to make flour. There is no waste. That’s it.
Upper Derby, N.B.
(Trish, there must be other good almonds. Those orchards in California are helping suck the state dry. What do you think, another source? DvL)
Smiley Bates fan
RD: In the May 2016 issue of Rural Delivery (Volume 40 #10) under “Letters to RD” (Re: Vole free, at last!), Mike Pachara from Cranbrook, B.C., was seeking information on Smiley Bates. On the back of my 1973 record, it tells that Smiley Bates is a Canadian from Kirkland Lake in Ontario. He started performing as a teenager on jamborees and local television shows in Northern Ontario. And he was voted top instrumentalist in Canada by the readers of the monthly “Canadian World of Country Music” (though no year was given).
His work can be found under “classic country” at the Music Barn (PO Box 223, Stn. Main, Keswick, ON L4P 3E2; or visit www.countrymusictreasures.com.) The price you pay at the Music Barn is the price you see, for prices include all shipping, handling, and applicable taxes. Hope this will help!
Cumberland Bay, N.B.
Remembers the old Westney farm
RD: Love the 40th anniversary issue. Especially interesting to me was Frank Macdonald’s story about the Westney Farm in Ontario. I had the privilege of knowing one of the Mrs. Westneys (she was my kindergarten teacher over 45 years ago), and of stopping by there for a drink of cold water with a bunch of us kids on our way to the local swimming hole. So sad to hear of its demise.
RD: Loved the reprint of Rural Delivery #1 in the 40th Anniversary issue. Good to remember a time not only before the Internet but postal codes and civic addresses. Above find a “Write Your Own Ad” from RD#2 (July 1976), complete with editorial comment from DvL.
Bruce Blakemore and Hugh Jones
(subscribers since Day 1)
Purgatory Point, N.S.
Crying over spilt mead
RD: In response to your request for stories about homemade fruit alcohols in the June 2016 anniversary issue, I thought I’d write in to describe a really marvelous batch of mead that my husband made a couple of years ago. My husband has been brewing beer from scratch for years, and in the last few years has expanded to try his hand at mead and liqueurs.
The one mead that he made that really stands out is a batch of Chaga cassis (Black currant) mead, which he aged for a year before we were allowed to open it. Chaga, as your readers probably know, is a fungus that grows on birch trees and contains very high concentrations of cancer-preventing anti-oxidants, and cassis just tastes delicious. The combination was amazing, but, alas, the keg sprung a leak one day in our root cellar, and we had only consumed about half before we lost the rest. Very sad, but I have hopes he’ll make it again.
Megan de Graaf
Harper Settlement, N.B.
RD: I am usually a couple of months behind in my magazine reading, but when the 40th anniversary issue came in, I had to take a peek. I read Rupert Jannasch’s article immediately. It was well written and brought back a lot of memories.
Before we retired last spring, Essie and I were certified organic for 25 years. We too were inspected by Monique Scholtz, who shared a meal with us and lots of advice. The same was true of Elizabeth Dacombe, who inspected us many times. I believe Rupert was our inspector once too. Inspectors in those days were friends; we never tried to put something over on them, nor did they try to give us an easy ride. Although we still knew most of our recent inspectors, being organic “veterans,” the inspection became more of a business situation than a meeting of minds.
The best advice we ever got was from Jennifer Scott, who, while inspecting, said that we should be getting more apple production than we were, and suggested testing for boron. We did, and discovered like most Maritime farms, we were deficient in boron (which promotes fruit set). It only took a teaspoon of boron per tree over five years and our orchard had quadrupled its output. We never did get a chance to thank Jen for that, so here it is!
Nowadays, there are some people in organics to get the organic sticker, as Rupert says, and charge that organic premium. Although the great majority of organic farmers do obey not just the letter but also the spirit of the organic standards, there are a few you wonder about. Organic inspectors are more professional now, and the consumer expects them to be so, but we have lost a sense of community and the feeling of working together for the same goal. When money gets involved, then things will change. Inspectors will do a more rigorous job, and farmers will have to get new information from conferences and the Internet.
Mike Hutton and Essie Lom
St. Andrews, N.B.
Mowing with scythes
RD: I’ve been mowing new grass since mid-May and feeding it out to my livestock. I pulled the scythe out of the garage and didn’t even peen it. I grabbed a manufactured stone, gave the blade a whetting, and started mowing. The new grass is a real pleasure to mow. It falls easy, cuts easy, feels good, and you finish with a real sense of accomplishment.
Here are some mowing-season reminders for new mowers:
Peen your blade if it hasn’t been done in a while. More than four hours of mowing would be a while.
Set your hafting angle, two inches for a 24” blade. That is lots for new grass, less will cut more if all is going well.
Start on the right and establish your curve/arc first before you get into too much tall grass. You want to draw a semi-circle from your right side to your left side (unless you are left-handed and have a scythe to match).
You want to slice the grass, not chop it. Your blade should continue parallel to your original curve with each stroke.
Let the back of the blade slide on the ground, keeping the heel/beard end a little lower than the point.
Don’t start too wide; a small well-formed arc is better than a messy, sloppy wide one, and is a lot easier to mow.
If you started mowing early you will have second-cut grass to practice on for any competitions that use second-cut for the big day. Enjoy your mowing season.
Stay sharp, whet often,
(Thank you, Peter. There are two mowing events we know about this summer in Nova Scotia, at the Northville Farm Heritage Centre in Northville July 30, and the Maritime Hand Mowing Championships at Ross Farm, New Ross, August 27. This annual Championships event is sponsored by Rural Delivery in partnership with the Ross Farm Heritage Museum. Would be helpful to hear from anyone planning to take part in the Championships so we know how many prizes to gather up from area merchants. Already have a scythe, blade, stone and scabbard from Lee Valley Tools, and would welcome other donations. DvL)
RD: I would like to see a pet page in Rural Delivery. Have a nice day.
Making a living, having enough
RD: Just a note to thank you for writing as you did in “Forty years and counting.” Your last paragraph expresses well what Cathleen and I always felt about making a living and having enough.
In your hands, Rural Delivery has faithfully expressed a rural culture that I really miss – but am thankful for having experienced. Best wishes for your “retirement!”
RD: Hey Dirk, congratulations on doing anything for 40 years, let alone juggle handfuls of publications and people! Amazin’. What a fine achievement.
Thought you might enjoy this comment by Andy Borowitz apropos of the circus to the south: “The GOP establishment’s appalled reaction to the rise of Trump is like someone letting their cat piss on the carpet for 10 years and wondering why their living room doesn't smell better.”
In 1980 Sue and I were two of the 10 votes by which Bernie won the mayoralty of Burlington (Vermont), launching the more mainstream portion of his political career. Ain’t this gonna be one wild election.
P.S. With every new outrage, DNR continues to demonstrate that they are just a dysfunctional deer camp. That piece by Jamie Simpson about SFI certification (“A tale of two certification schemes,” May 2016 Atlantic Forestry Review) is appalling.
RD: Congratulations!! Wonderful magazine my family has been taking for almost 40 years.
RD: Happy Anniversary to a great publication and for your good works in highlighting our country issues.
RD: Just a quick note to say congratulations on 40 great years! Quite an accomplishment. Continued success!
From a farm poet
RD: It’s cloudy and cool here in Kilburn, N.B. this Friday of June 3, and as I’m catching up with RD May 2016 reading I came across “Farm and food poems.” I'm not from Nova Scotia and it’s after April 29!
So, as I fast approach the beginning of Psalm 90:10 by one more day, I’ve decided to send along “When I Was Young” as a contribution for your kind consideration to use in a future issue of Rural Delivery if space permits. In any event, I sincerely enjoy your publication.
When I Was Young
How to quilt and how to cook
How to hunt and set a hook
Making bread, pancakes and beans
Use a file and fix machines
Divide the housework by the day
When to sow and cut the hay
Learn to sew and iron clothes
Be taught the stuff a good man knows
While one sister scrubs the floors
Me and brothers do the chores
Monday “washday” must be fine
To hang the clothes out on the line
My other sister checks the hens
It’s my job to clean the pens
Pitch stable manure out on the pile
Kinda grudgin’ all the while
Milk the cows in time for school
Done by hand on a one-leg stool,
Separate it by the pail
Cream-check comes by Royal Mail
Its mix the mash to feed the hogs
And table scraps go to the dogs
Mother’s supper sure tastes good
When she cooks with “biscuit wood”
Father faith’ly works the fields
To guarantee the biggest yields
When I was young, that was the way
It sure is different, now ... today!