RD May Letters 2018

A red herring?
RD: The article “So Many Dead Herring,” by Ted Leighton (RD Jan.-Feb., page 36) makes no reference to the fact that, besides the dead herring, dead lobsters, clams, scallops, mussels, flounder, perch, starfish, and a whale washed up along three main areas of the Bay of Fundy shoreline in N.S.
    Media outlets reported that local residents expressed alarm at the wide variety of aquatic species affected. Explanations from DFO included possible disease, infection, parasites, or toxins. They said tests of the fish and ocean gave no answers. 
    Yet, it was almost impossible to find any reference to one obvious industrial common denominator in these three areas: large-scale open-pen aquaculture.
    As Professor Graham Daborn of Acadia University stated, when disease is ruled out, it is time to look at industry. 
    Fish farming companies are legally allowed to use pesticides to treat sea lice prior to their fish being sold to consumers. Pesticides such as cypermethrin, azamethipos, and deltamethrin (neurotoxins) used to kill sea lice can also kill fish, crustaceans, and mammals, and many other aquatic species. DFO’s own research has proven the toxicity of these pesticides and has shown that pesticide plumes can travel kilometres in the open ocean.
    DFO requires notification by email prior to pesticide use, as stipulated in the Aquaculture Activities Regulation Guidance Document, in order to “help inform any investigation of fish kills.” In other words, DFO is well aware of the potential risk. 
    For an investigation to be complete, there are other questions that need to be answered: Were pesticides used at fish farms in these three areas? If so, what and when? What limitations, if any, are placed on the amount and type of pesticides used? Was the Regional Aquaculture Management Office notified, as required? How long can pesticides be detected after non-target species are killed? Are acoustic harassment devices being used at sites in Nova Scotia? 
Sindy Horncastle
Marilyn Moore
Jordan Bay, N.S.

Thoughtful advice
RD: The April 2018 RD issue is probably the best I’ve read; so many good (and fun to read) articles. I’m not sure Water Divining could make it as a full community college course, but I expect it could be introduced and demonstrated to suitable classes... the process worked for friends when they couldn’t strike water.
    I wonder about Perry Brandt wrapping hives in black plastic. Black emits heat just as well as it absorbs, and since the sun shines only a fraction of the day, the hive might be losing more heat overnight than it gains during the day. If Perry put a layer of clear plastic over the black, preferably with a small air-gap, much of that radiated heat will be retained in the hive. Similarly, I have found that clear plastic laid on the soil warms my garden beds better than black plastic.
    Megan de Graaf’s sister could spread some pelletized gypsum such as I found at Halifax Seed to improve her clay soil. I used to have areas where I could slice blocks of pure clay out of the ground and let it harden into rocky lumps. A few kilos of pelletized gypsum has made those beds crumbly and fluffy. Unfortunately, I could only get it in big bags, but it’s fairly cheap and I have plenty more clay I can treat.
Richard Gilbert
Linwood, N.S.






Insightful way to ring in spring
RD: Please find enclosed a cheque to renew my Rural Delivery subscription for three years. I can’t think of a better way to mark the first day of spring!
    We enjoy Rural Delivery from cover to cover. I especially like Zack Metcalfe’s pieces. We were lucky to have him at our local West Prince Graphic newspaper for a time, and he has always been an insightful and engaging writer.
    Thank you for educating and entertaining us with every issue!
Thelma Phillips
Ellerslie, P.E.I.

A lifetime with eyes wide open
RD: At 92 I don’t expect to see the following again. 
    Sixty years ago, I drove under a rainbow. I was crossing the Kennetcook River and the two ends of a perfect rainbow were in the water on either side of the bridge. Awesome!
    Fifty years ago, my daughter and I saw and heard wild geese fly across a full moon.
    The December full moon of 2017 shone in the window, reflected on the glass of an old mantle clock and there on my bedroom ceiling was a picture of the moon with a cloud passing over the bottom of it. Glad I was awake.
Hazel A. Spearing
Walton, N.S.







West Coast readers catch up
RD: Sorry for the delay, the Thomas wildfire did terrible things to the ranch. Today I found yet another fence cut by the firefighters (I hope!). There’s a lack of arborists, so I still don’t know if the 60-year-old Aleppo pine, still bleeding from the scorching on its trunk, will survive.
    If the issues I missed can be sent, please do.
Hannelore Gresser
Ojai, CA.

RD: Sorry about me, I am soon to be 95 years old. So at times the brain is not the best. I sure like the magazine. I don’t have much garden, just flowers – yes, my snowdrop’s blooming, tulips and others on the way, keep me busy and happy.
    I sure like the histories from your area. My late wife and I had a campervan out your way until 1993, three months across the country, some days in N.S., Peggy’s Cove for sure. Not much camping now, but plenty to remember.
    I get the Halifax station on my TV, so see the big winter at your area, not much winter here. Hope you get this. Happy Easter.
Karl Jensen
Oliver, B.C.

Don’t shrug off the Atlas
RD: Re: the idea of geo-locations for farm stories (“Geo-location for the locals,” RD April, page 11). This is a great idea – but I would also highly recommend the Nova Scotia Atlas book for checking out N.S. locations. We use it all the time when we hear an unfamiliar place name in the news – and we “don’t leave home without it,” either!
Maggie Rice
Bridgetown, N.S.

A close second to quilting
RD: I simply forgot to renew. Sorry…I’ve been quilting! RD is a “treat” on mail day! Always a good read from cover to cover. Keep up the good work.
Wendy Smale
Aylesford, N.S.






Ladybug, ladybug, fly away
RD: I read in one of your recent homilies that you have a scourge of ladybugs in your house. So do we. But only in our farmhouse in Clarence, Annapolis County, not in our house in urban Halifax. Why is that?
    Are they invading our house from the outside, or are they hatching inside from eggs left the previous year? If the latter, how did they first get here?
Our best recollection is that the ladybugs started appearing about five years ago. What happened? I seem to recall that these are not Nova Scotia ladybugs, but some import that someone decided to bring in to combat some other problem. Am I correct?
    I find that a hand-held Dyson vacuum cleaner makes attacking these small critters a bit of a game. Can you help me out as to the source of these insects and whether they are cyclical or will we always have to deal with them each spring?
Alan Parish
Halifax, N.S.

(These are good questions, Alan! You are not the only one wondering about these ladybugs that appeared in some people’s houses in March – sometimes in great numbers, flying into one’s hair, etc. Were they hatching indoors, or migrating in? Maybe especially in older and more porous houses? Are they a native species, and presumably a benign presence, as one would expect to see in the garden? We fired off an inquiry to Dr. Chris Cutler, a professor and associate dean of research and graduate studies at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture. Paul Manning, a postdoctoral fellow and researcher in Dr. Cutler’s lab, kindly offered the following explanation:

    “The beetle in the photo is Harmonia axyridis; it is commonly known as the multicoloured Asian ladybug/lady beetle. As its name suggests, it has many different colour morphs. Also as its name suggests, this species is from Asia. It was deliberately introduced to North America to control crop pests. It was quite a ‘successful’ introduction in some respects – this species is now very common and widespread. Whether this species is a ‘good guy’ or a ‘bad guy’ is really a matter of perspective. If you’re a gardener or farmer with an aphid problem, Harmonia axyridis loves to eat other insects, and is a very effective biological control agent. 
    “On the other hand, its proliferation has been widely linked to the decline of many native ladybird beetle species. In addition, it’s not so popular with many homeowners – as your email has pointed to. As I mentioned, they feed on insects – so the larvae will develop outdoors during the summer months. The larvae look a little bit like crocodiles. In the autumn, the adults look for dry, warm places to spend the cold winter months, and often congregate in homes. On warm days (often in the spring) they come out of hiding and begin to fly around. Many people find they smell terrible – particularly if you crush/bother them. 
    “As a homeowner, probably the best way to get rid of these guys is to vacuum/sweep them up, and stick them in an empty container in the deep freeze for a couple of days to kill them. They enter the house during the fall, so sealing up any drafty openings will help prevent them from entering next year.”

    So there you have it, Alan. It seems that short of tightly weatherproofing your farmhouse, you should be prepared to have your Dyson ready to go in March, and add ladybug management to your annual spring-cleaning list. DL)

Poultry poetry from the past
RD: I was recently given a copy of the Farmer’s Advocate and Home magazine, Vol. XXXVI, No. 530, July 15, 1901. Amongst the many practical and informative articles was this poem, which brought a smile to my face – being a poultry-keeping city girl. I hope that your readers will enjoy it also.
Nancy Morin
Upper Kingsclear, N.B.

Maud Muller
(Revised version.)
Maud Muller on a summer’s day, 
Set a hen in a brand-new way.
(Maud, you see, was a city girl,
Trying the rural life a whirl.)
She covered a box with tinsel gay,
Lined it snugly with new-mown hay.
Filled it nicely with eggs, and then,
Started to look for a likely hen. 
Out of the flock selected one,
And then she thought that her work was done.
It would have been; but this stubborn hen,
Stood up and cackled “Ka-doot!” and then
Maud Muller came, and in hurt surprise,
Looked coldly into the creature’s eyes.
Then tied its legs to the box. “You bet,”
Said she, “I know how to make you set.”
But still it stood, and worse and worse,
Shrieked forth its wrongs to the universe,
Kicked over the box with its tinsel gay,
And ignominiously flapped away!
Then a bad boy, over the barnyard fence,
Tee-heed, “Say, Maud, there’s a difference.
“‘Tween hens, you know, and it is that,
One says ‘Ka-doot!’ and one ‘Ka-dat!’” 
Then Maud recalled that the ugly brute
She tried to set had said “Ka-doot!”
And ever since that historic day,
She blushes in an embarrassed way,
To think of the hobble she made once when,
She tried to set a gentleman hen!
- Toronto Star