RD September Leters 2016

A correction
RD:  Thank you for the interesting July-August issue of RD which I always read as soon as it comes. I want to make a small correction to the identification of the bird caught in the net on your cover. This is not a “confused fall warbler.” It may be confusing to those who use a field guide to ID birds, but it is a female American goldfinch, which lives here all year round, not a warbler which migrates south in winter. The finch-shaped beak is the clue.   
    I would caution fruit growers who use netting to make sure they extract captured birds by pulling them backwards out of the net, retrieving them from the side they went in. If you put the palm of your hand on the bird’s back, and first and second finger around the bird’s neck at the back (the “bander’s grip”), pulling gently away from the net, the bird should come out easily. Make sure you don’t let it go until you are well away from the net, as birds in their panic will often fly right back in.  
    As a licensed bird bander, I deal with birds in nets as part of my research, and have netted thousands successfully. To lessen the fatal effects of nets, make sure they are taut and visible to birds, or you may find you have a horrible slaughter which will take hours to clear. Check the nets several times a day. Dead birds hanging in nets will not deter other birds, except for crows. Even getting caught and released from a net will not scare a bird from a good source of food or even from landing in trees that are within its territory. Birds will not see the net unless it is a heavy, dense small mesh. It should be held away from the berries by a frame, and come right down to the ground with secure pegging. Many birds like sparrows and robins get to berries by hopping on the ground, so you will want to deter those birds and not catch them under a net canopy. I would venture to say that the whole netting idea is not worth the work and hassle. I would like to hear the experiences of berry growers who use them.
Dorothy Diamond
Stanley, N.B.

(Thank you, Dorothy. I understand and see the wisdom of your recommendation for netting fruit, “held away from the berries,” and “down to the ground with secure pegging.” But when I look at my sprawling highbush blueberry bushes I think there is no way that can be reasonably accomplished. For many, frequent checking to remove trapped birds may be the way to go, removing them carefully, following your directions. I hope we will hear from others on this. DvL)

Vole free, thanks to readers
RD: I would like to thank the readers from Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec who offered suggestions on cutting down vole and mole activity in the garden. We tried all three methods and so far we are vole/mole free. It is great to harvest potatoes and beets that have not been chewed.
    RD started out as a classified ad exchange. The exchange part is certainly still going strong between the letters, “Household Notes,” and the music page. That speaks volumes to what a wonderful and helpful readership RD inspires.
Bruce Blakemore
Purgatory Point, N.S.

She’s not cowed
RD: Your magazine is very popular in our house, even with our little 18-month-old granddaughter, Naomi. On a visit she spotted the magazine and a pic of her favorite “cows,” and immediately climbed into grandpa’s chair and started looking for more cows!
Pat Veinot
Pinehurst, N.S.

RD: Having just finished reading your 40th anniversary (!!) issue (RD June), I hasten to say how very much I enjoyed yet another of your splendid collections of articles. Three in particular touched me with their humanity.
    Beth Saunders’ article, with the inimitable Gary’s photographs, was wonderful on their experiences of “abused” old houses and the rugs on their floors.
    Frank Macdonald on urban sprawl was spot on. So very well observed and written. One of his finest I’d say.
    And the restoration of the International Harvester tractor by the friends of Jerome Forbes was just so good to read; it affirmed so much that is admirable in humanity.
    Thank you for all these years, now decades, of Rural Delivery. I believe I am one of your charter members and readers, and deeply grateful for your existence!
Janet Baker
Halifax, N.S.

“Draw, pardner”
RD: I applaud your efforts to help readers identify various bits and pieces found around their properties, so in advance of anyone being surprised when digging up these old acres after I’m gone, I hope to manufacture a device I may find useful when addressing weeds.
    Because I have several styles of hoes and other hand-held weed removers, I find a need for a community holster of sorts that I envision either strapping on like a Kevlar vest with loops at an angle to keep tools upright while one bends to the work, or a device that straps to the body like a safety harness featuring a rack not unlike those seen in macho trucks holding rifles on the back window.
    Then, like a dentist, surgeon, or other professional who wants the right tool right now, one may possibly whip out the eight-inch turnip hoe, or the slender finger hoe to get between corn rows, or even the old screwdriver that excels at thistle and dandelion extraction. Possibilities are endless.
    The weight of the “hoe holder” when loaded, and degree of mobility of the subject worker are, of course, matters best left to the Chinese when, after a session on “Dragon’s Den,” the drawings actually reach a distant shore. Perhaps that’s where they’ll be buried and not among the stony furrows so common around here.
Sandy McAllister
Cambridge-Narrows, N.B.

Preparing for climate change
RD: It would be useful to have a discussion on climate change in the magazine...something you think might be useful or even necessary for us all in the future. The government creeps around this idea…but we need to get ready in all sorts of practical ways. We need to stay warm and fed. We could use ideas like Eliot Coleman and “The Winter Harvest Handbook.”
    Anything else you might find relevant...
Barbara Green
Victoria, P.E.I.

Popsicle plant closure
RD: Should be a write-up on the closing of the Scotsburn dairy plant in Saint John, where 50 employees will lose their employment in September. The location is the old General Dairies plant on Station St. across from what used to be Union Station, where most of the dairy products arrived by train. I can recall as a boy delivering large milk cans by horse and sleigh. There may be some photos of the old General Dairies plant around. 
    Agriculture and the family farms played a big role in the ‘40s after the War; however, the Saint John City Market is perhaps the only survivor of a changing time. Keep up the good work.
Blake Palmer
Saint John, N.B.

(Blake, we hope people may root around in their attics for photos such as those you suggest relating to the General Dairies plant and send them to us for a future story. DvL)

More embroidery
RD: Many thanks for your wonderful magazine; I read it cover to cover. I was brought up on a mixed farm: chickens, ducks, geese, strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelons, mushrooms, two cows, and two horses. One was a carriage horse, Dolly, and a workhorse, Dick. Ten acres of forest, and a creek with fish. Not now. If you had space, a column with embroidery patterns would be appreciated. I enjoyed your music column and “My life with trees.” Keep up the good work. Happy 40th Anniversary.
Lily Anne Polischuk
Simcoe, Ont.

Light logging…
RD: Today, I received the July-August edition of Rural Delivery and just finished reading two very interesting articles by Jane Fowler. I have seen these small farm machines at the Northville Farm Heritage Centre Equipment shows, but did not have a full appreciation of their capabilities. These two articles by Jane were very informative. Thank you Jane and Rural Delivery. I will continue to read other articles in this issue, but wanted to respond now to Jane’s contribution to this month’s magazine. I also look forward to reading the next publication when it comes out. It’s always interesting and informative.
Ron Corkum
Canning, N.S.

…and heavy quaking
RD: I liked the article about the two-wheel tractor. Thanks. Then the following one (also by Jane Fowler) about a small logging tractor, but it had no price. Could the two-wheel tractor be used to pull out small logs maybe? My neighbors cut firewood chunks in the forest and bring these out on ATVs.
    Bit of news: I was in coastal Ecuador when the April 16 earthquake hit. I was sitting outside at a barbershop at the time, and it was nearly 7 pm (dark). Everybody ran outdoors as I called them, and the land was gently rocking. The ground opened up around us and a group of women clinging to children could not be moved…just moaning and immobile while the nearby building was starting to break up.
    That night I was laying in my bed during aftershocks, the house shaking back and forth. Everybody else was camping in the park. This house, built with the local design, post and beam style, rocked in the quakes, but still it was an anxious time in my chest. My smaller red brick buildings had collapsed, as did two of my cement brick garden walls. The dogs were okay. After a week of eating bread (bakeries stayed open), a half-rotten potato, and a green pepper, I left town, as my bank had still not opened. Some people died in this quake. I saw houses pancaked, the third and second floors on the ground, the first floor crushed, unseen. The mind plays funny games in times of disaster. After the quake I kept asking myself, “What did I do wrong?” After a week you ask yourself, “What was in that gap before the tractors tore down the wreckage?” It is depressing to see your town so damaged. 
    I spent a month in the mountains before using my return ticket to Canada. It was an act of God, some say (no warning though), or an act of Mother Nature, but really it was an act of geology. This area had been spared a major quake for a very long time. Rigid new masonry construction was broken badly in places. Old, neglected, traditional buildings also fell. They had been patched for years and painted like an old face. Any re-building I do will have to include flexible wooden posts so the energy of the quakes is dissipated. The second story has to be lightweight, of wood, and cannot be heavy bricks, although these became the fashion in the last 20 years. I have learned to keep to tradition. 
    Some people adapted quickly, others treated it like a camping holiday. One new tropical beam cost $50 before the quake, and I salvaged an entire truckload with helpers after the damage. Is Canada so much safer with the storms we receive? Canadians were quickly distracted by the preventable fire in Fort McMurray, May 3.
Robin Day
North Augusta, Ont.