RD Jan-Feb Leters 2017

Two cents’ worth
RD: I was just reading your article “Midden” in the April 2016 issue. One of your comments reminded me that when I came to Canada as a boy in 1957 I could buy a bottle of pop for 10 cents and would pay a two-cent deposit on the bottle. I could take the bottle back and get the deposit back. I was told that the bottle went back to the pop company to be cleaned and reused. As you mention, that kind of reuse seems better than smashing the bottles up and making new ones.
Patrick Ryall
Hubley, N.S.

Ringing in on Ring-necks
RD: After many years of seeing your magazine in various places, I finally subscribed to Rural Delivery for the next three years. Excellent reading! I particularly enjoyed the article in the November 2016 issue regarding the Ring-necked pheasant. Here in the Cow Bay area we have a very high concentration of them. Not sure how they came to be here, but the rumour is somebody at one point bred them and then they were released. It is not uncommon to look out our window to see a couple of males and seven or eight females all foraging on the lawn together. 
    Thank you for publishing such a great magazine.
Sandy Hickey
Eastern Passage, N.S.

RD: I read Emily Leeson’s “Watching the weather” (pg. 40 RD Sept.) with some dismay. The five-year study she writes about was looking, we read, for places with very particular ranges of rainfall and temperature, with an eye to promoting viticulture and other high-return agricultural practices. You’d think somebody planning for the future of agriculture might give some serious consideration to climate change, but no, the fellow doing the study says climate change means “We can grow crops that we couldn’t grow before, it’s just that simple.” Well, it isn’t, to say the least.
We don’t get to see the data collected by the study, but I can tell you a bit about the weather in my part of the country over the last five years. One winter, we had an ice storm a few days before Christmas, and that ice was still thick on the ground in March. A couple of summers ago, it rained so much so fast that passengers on commuter trains had to be rescued by boat. And this past summer, a three-month drought reduced our crops to tinder. All of this was unprecedented.
Farther afield, thousands of people died in record-breaking 50 degree C heat in India. The municipal government of La Paz, Bolivia, made its temporary water-use restrictions permanent, because the glaciers that provided the area’s water for millennia have almost disappeared. One and a half million farmers driven from their land by drought swelled the ranks of the urban poor in Syria, helping to precipitate the situation we hear about daily. And Canada had its own climate refugees when temperatures 20 degrees C higher than normal fuelled the giant forest fire around Fort McMurray. Again, all unprecedented.
    And it’s going to get a lot worse. It takes between 10 and 30 years for the effects of greenhouse gas emissions to be felt – let’s split the difference and say 20 years. That means the extreme weather of the last five years is the result of greenhouse gases emitted between 1991 and 1996. Since then, annual global greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 60 percent. The one thing we know for sure about the consequences is that they won’t be pretty. We don’t need to be thinking about how to grow grapes to attract tourists. We need to be thinking – hard, now – about how to reduce the impact of climate change on future generations as much as possible, and about how we are going to keep producing food when the weather is beyond prediction.
    Thank you for your excellent magazine.
Jim Gronau,
Milford, Ontario

RD: How strange to read in the September issue of Rural Delivery that “... climate change is curdling the weather. Northeastern North America is no longer blessed by a climate that delivers a little of this and a little of that, just about the right amount and every kind of weather spread over time. Instead come violent extremes of storms and droughts and drownings and so on...” (pg. 2). And then to read a completely uncritical article about a multi-community collaborative project to collect and use past weather data, rendered irrelevant by climate change, as the basis for future agricultural and economic development (“Watching the weather,” pg. 40). And how frightening, given our prospects for peace, for the protection of global food security and all other human rights, given our very prospects for survival, depend on adequately responding, through agricultural and economic planning, to global climate disruption.
    Planning to develop high-value perennial “niche market” crops with an eye to expanding tourism in the Southwest Nova region, as the Southwest Nova Scotia Weather Study group is proposing, is completely absurd... Tourism is founded on and promotes the burning of huge amounts of fossil fuels for recreational purposes. In the real world, not the fantasy world of (un)economic development, this pushes tourism past the point of simply being a sunset industry, and into the realm of being a crime against humanity.
    The countries, including Canada, whose emissions are responsible for the climate-change plight of the people of the global south, should be getting prepared to receive and feed millions if not billions of climate refugees. All this has far bigger implications for land use and agricultural planning in the microclimates of Southwest Nova than the interests of developers focused on what cannot possibly be anything more than short-term profit, or the proclivities of wealthy people still deep enough in denial about climate change to be tourists. 
Rosalind Adams,
Milford, Ont.

    Jim, Rosalind, thank you for your thoughtful letters. As I am the scientifically challenged person who wrote about curdled weather, and because I live on Nova Scotia’s South Shore (thankfully well above sea level), I take it upon myself to respond, in part, to what you have to say. Southwest Nova Scotia, and much of the rest of the province, has had forever to live with the attitude that agriculture is the Annapolis Valley and the rest of us are a joke when it comes to growing food. The ongoing investigation that Emily Leeson ably reported on has been gathering valuable support for arguing that no, there are are options beyond the borders of the Valley. This will be good news for climate refugees who end up on our shores. DvL  

Dean Butterfield 101
RD: I just picked up my December copy from the mailbox and the first article I read was “Wood Splitting 101.” Dean Butterfield is one to make you grit your teeth, splitting wood by hand at his age. Having said that, it can’t be denied that it is both a satisfying and body building exercise. Good on him for still swinging the axe. 
    My main purpose in writing is to ask that some or all of his colloquial terms be explained or defined for the uninformed… “Doughty” – what a wonderful description of “punky” wood, but what does that mean to an oil burner? He is a treasure of lore and idioms that need to be explained to the modern reader.
Jim Haywood
Vaughan, N.S.

RD and more under the tree
RD: Merry Christmas to all and thanks to Santa DvL, for the great offer. We have a budding horse lover who is already looking forward to getting the Horse and Pony magazine.
    Of all the farming-related magazines, we like yours the best – there are always interesting articles and great recipes. It is so good to see the entrepreneurial spirit so many of your articles highlight. 
    Keep up the great work! We appreciate it.
Julia Snell,
Spring Bay, Ont.

RD: I have to say I was very disappointed to see in your editorial (Pot Luck, RD  December) yet another of the innumerable hysterical anti-Trump screeds that have flooded the mainstream media for the last year. You obviously have a lot of out-of-touch friends. Maybe you can explain this to me, because I can’t figure it out.
     Yes, Trump has a big mouth and puts his foot in it often. He can be uncouth. He can be offensive. Who cares, when the alternative was Hillary? How is it possible that people are more offended by him saying that some of the illegal immigrants from Mexico are rapists, or that a beauty contestant is fat, than by Hillary’s wars that saw hundreds of thousands of women and children die? Or her allegiance to big banks that caused millions of Americans to lose their homes in the 2008 crash? 
     For the record, I hated Bush, hated Stephen Harper, and actually voted Green in the last election. I am a university educated civil servant trying to transition into organic farming. I have friends of all races, religions, and sexual orientation. I am not partisan, but I’ve followed politics since childhood and I just try to be objective when assessing a person’s character. I love your magazine and have been a subscriber for several years. Please refrain from the political rants until you’ve taken the time to actually learn who is almost assuredly on your side and who definitely is not. FYI, you won’t find any truth in the mainstream media. None.
     Regardless of what Trump may be able to accomplish, the West is in decline and our lives will be getting harder. We need to come together, not stoke old divisions.
Jim Dickie
Kingsley, N.B.

Foiling Blue jays
RD: My suet feeders are often plundered by Blue jays. They land on top, then work their way down. This year, as a test, I roofed the log with a foil container. (see photo) No plundering since. They come, but don’t try. Whether it’s the rustling sound it makes in the least breeze (I just punched the hanger through it), or them seeing their reflections in the crinkles, or something else, I don’t know. But the chickadees and woodpeckers mind not at all. I suppose a round foil plate — jay guard plus shelter — would be better.
Gary Saunders,
Clifton, N.S.
Hull of a note
RD: I’ve seen in your magazine Rural Delivery on page 52 (RD Oct.) an ad for a Codema dehuller for spelt, oats, buckwheat, etc. Would it also take the hull off barley and leave the bran and germ in it? Would it take it off the old way, not the modern way? Awaiting your early reply. 
    P.S. What price would it be by hand power or electric?
George Young,
Matheson, Ont.

    George, we can tell you that the manufacturer's spec sheet for that impact huller indicates it is indeed designed to handle barley, as well as oats, sunflower seeds, spelt, hemp, buckwheat, canary seed, cocoa bean, etc. The machine works by passing material through a rotating impeller that has grooved vanes, propelling the kernels into an “impact ring.” The impeller has variable frequency drive, so it can be can be programmed for the precise speed desired, and the machine may be equipped with an impact ring made of stone, ceramic, or polymer, depending on the application. Power is supplied by a 7.5-hp or a 5-hp direct drive motor. Sounds like you could make it work with some degree of finesse. For more information, you should contact Sean McGivern at North Valley Ag & Mill Equipment: 519-820-2309. DL