RD June Letters 2017

War on nature
RD: I would like to thank Dr. Av Singh for his timely article on glyphosates. Other than the dangers that he mentioned, there are some additional considerations:
    1. Once we have killed all the weeds that are susceptible to glyphosates the only weeds left will be the resistant ones. These will pose an even greater hazard. (This is analogous to the situation we have created with the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in humans leading to resistant “super bugs.”)
    2. Secondly, as everyone knows, glyphosates were originally discovered as a descaling agent for pipes and later found to have antibacterial properties. As we spread them (glyphosates) indiscriminately on our crops we do not know what they are doing to the bacterial life in the soil. Bacteria play a vital role in soil health. We kill them off at our peril.
    It is time to stop our “war on nature” and learn to live in harmony and holistically with all that nature has to offer.
Bruce Wright MD, FRCPC  
Bridgewater, N.S.

Seeking alder advice
RD: Would you happen to know the best dates in June to cut alders so that they won’t revive? I heard someone on the radio a couple years ago, I believe, mention after the leaves in June is the best time to do so. Hoping you can either confirm, or maybe give me some other helpful advice.     
Marnie Hazelwood
Torbrook, N.S.

(Marnie, the jury is still out on when best to cut alders so that they won’t revive. The majority of opinions gleaned from our readers indicates late August – preferably around or after the full moon. However, there are proponents for cutting in June, including the N.B. Department of Natural Resources and Energy, which did a study in 1985 that found cutting on the new moon in June to have better results than cutting on new moons in July and August. Dare we say this might be one case where there are as many opinions as there will be new alder shoots springing forth whatever time of year you cut… You can always consult DvL’s book Getting Rid of Alders (available at Rurallife.ca) for a more in-depth discussion. Good luck. MB)

Back seat reader
RD: This is a photo of my two-year-old, Deacon, who very much enjoys your magazine.
    My dad used to subscribe until he passed in 2013… so there are a few copies kicking around, and my son loves them.   
Gail Oickle
Pinehurst, N.S.

Primer from the past
RD: The “Bringing home the bacon” item on page 23 of your May 2017 issue makes me wish somebody would write a good account of operating one of the many small farms in the 1940s and 1950s.
    Many of the farms were slowly graduating from a horse operation to having a tractor too. It was a huge financial commitment to purchase a basic two-plow tractor with no frills and very few implements at first. The farm had to produce enough to pay for that tractor. At the same time, power and phones were coming in, so more had to be produced to pay for those conveniences. Not a lot of grain was produced until that tractor got plows. And that grain was reaped, stooked, and threshed. What a lot of work. A lot of mangels were grown for feed. Cream was sold and the skim milk was fed to the pigs. The number of cows on the place was limited by the hay you could grow (loose hay) and the manure you could pitch. Vegetables you could sell were worked and picked by hand and it might include a bean contract or a cucumber contract for a food processing plant. A few logs and a few cords of pulp were usually supplemented by a few cords of firewood to be sawed, split (no woodsplitter) and sold, all from the home place or from somewhere within walking distance for the horses. And remember that power saws were just coming in. Also, any doctor or hospital bills had to be paid from the production on the farm.
    I truly believe that a good understanding of what it was like would help our young generation to lower their expectations of what equipment and services it would take to farm within their means.
Charles Jess
Yarmouth, N.S.

Thrilled to read Vern again
RD: It was with surprise and pleasure to find Vern Faulkner’s article “Not to buy but borrow” in your last issue (April). We have missed Vern’s wit and humour since his sudden and unexplained departure from our Charlotte County papers. His passionate commentaries on politics from a local development perspective were always worth reflection. His stories about the challenges of DIY building an off-the-grid homestead were always entertaining. We are glad to see him joining the ranks of writers for RD, a great match in outlooks, and look forward to reading more from him in the future.
Beth Buerkle
Chamcook, N.B.

Opining on opinions
RD: I enjoy the magazine and usually read it front to back each month. I have even shared an opinion every so often. I have noticed that a couple of your letter writers recently have taken issue with your editorials (and Frank Macdonald too) for your criticisms of Donald Trump. I am sure I speak for the majority of your readers when I say, “Keep doing what you are doing.” We need to keep reminding people what’s going on down there and how it will affect us. 
    When memes on Facebook say things like “and the weather forecast is – tweet storms overnight and a 20 percent chance of apocalypse by morning,” what you have said is quite mild. I would certainly say that the ordinary politicians tend to ignore the working man, paying attention only once every four years, and then going and doing what they originally planned to do. However, this man in Washington and his crew are monumentally unqualified to do their jobs; they will change the world all right, and I am sure we won’t like the results!
    There – that’s my point of view. Again, make sure you and Frank keep doing what you do, with humour and insight. Thanks for all you do to keep us informed and “educated.”
    I just wanted to make two or three points relating to the April issue:
    1. Seed libraries – We are in the process of setting up a seed library in St. Andrews, N.B. It will be available for seed withdrawal on May 20. From what we understand, it will be the 12th in N.B. Maine has over 100! Thanks to Fedco, Salt Spring Seeds, and Hope Seeds for their donations!
    2. Swallows – In the early 1980s at our farm, it was normal to see up to four  dozen swallows on our power line in front of the house in August. By about 2010, we didn’t have any. The habitat at our farm didn’t change, so there must have been other causes – habitat where they migrated to, climate change, I just don’t know.
    3. Anne’s food column mentioned bagels close to St. Viateur Montreal bagels. If you want even closer to the real thing, substitute “potato water” for tap water. Potato water is the leftover water from cooking potatoes – the starch from the potatoes is maybe the “secret” ingredient in Montreal bagels? And, hey, in the picture, where are the sesame seeds or poppy seeds?
Mike Hutton
St. Andrews, N.B.

(Mike, thanks for sharing your thoughts. At a point I fear alienating readers who come to a publication like RD looking for relief from even talking about other than what’s growing or pecking about the yard — and really who can blame them?
It is deeply disconcerting to have a couple of children – one in age, the other by temperament – in a position to trigger unimaginable mayhem. 
    It is equally disturbing that our much-vaunted educational systems in the West and maybe world-wide fail to instill curiosity, skepticism, and concepts of critical thinking in our young people. Thanks again. DvL)

Rabbit up our sleeve
RD: A friend of ours gave us several issues of Rural Delivery. We found an article about French Angora rabbits in the November 2014 issue. The article is called “She’s knitting in class!” It says that one Angora rabbit can produce up to 400 ounces of wool in one year. We were wondering if there was a mistake there. The article was about Timothy, Dawna, and Emily Riding. We would greatly appreciate hearing if it was a mistake or not. If you cannot find out, please send us Timothy Riding’s address or phone number. We appreciate Rural Delivery.
Titus Gerber
Richmond Corner, N.B.

(Titus, according to Dawna Riding at Feathers and Fiber Microfarm, “Angora rabbits at peak would produce 454 grams of wool per year. It depends on the variety of Angora as well. French produce up to a pound but German can produce several pounds a year, and English are 10 ounces or so per year. There are five different varieties of Angora rabbit. Four of those are sanctioned for shows with the American Rabbit Breeders Association.         Four hundred ounces would work out to approximately 25 pounds of fibre, which could potentially come off of an Angora goat, but would still be quite a feat. With the goats it’s usually five to 15 pounds per year.” Hope that clears it up. MB)

Literary pedigree
RD: Thanks for the magazines. I give RD and Atlantic Forestry Review to my son now, so have not really stopped subscribing. Favourite childhood reading – van Loon’s Lives – what a surprise to find DvL is the grandson of the author.
Mary Burnett
Annapolis Royal, N.S.

Keep on keeping on
RD: We’d like to see an information update on bats and our future without them. The articles on bees were very interesting. Please keep “What’s that?” It’s very informative and we can learn about the past. 
    In the May issue, “Kitchen cleaning tips” was a great idea! Keep “Echoes” going. I love the info that someone took the time to find and more from the past. I was born in June 1950 and we always heard different music styles while growing up: country and western, classics, hymns, and rock and roll. Keep up the great work, we look forward to each new mag.
Sharon Holt
Petitcodiac, N.B.

From the heart
RD: I may not be a farmer but at heart I am. Your magazine keeps me fulfilled. Keep up the great work.
Tamara Duke
Long Point, N.B.