Still waiting for summer


My “cool” garden. Not doing too bad. Those are potato plants in the foreground, mulched with straw to deter potato beetles, and add organic matter to the soil.

My “cool” garden is doing okay despite the unusually cool, wet weather. After all, up to a point that’s what early-season crops like peas, potatoes, onions, kale, and lettuce like – up to a point. But they won’t thrive either without their good, old-fashioned share of sunny days and warm weather.

I’ve lived in southern Ontario for a good many years (indeed, I’ve got another birthday coming, and that will make me of an age that surprises even me) but I’ve never seen anything like this: Continue reading

Surrounded by wildlife in Hope Ness


white-tailed deer have been feasting on my sweet peas

I noted with more than passing interest the news that black bear have been making appearances and causing problems in the Shallow Lake area, brazenly killing and eating chickens close to homes, and breaking into wooden garbage containers at Sauble Beach.

There certainly are black bear up here in heavily-wooded Hope Ness, on the Georgian Bay side of the Bruce Peninsula, where I live. I saw a big one from a safe distance crossing the Hope Ness Road out by Bruce County Road 9 a week or two ago just after setting out for a trip to Owen Sound. Most of my  neighbours live out there, compared to where I am at the end of Cathedral Drive. That’s a “No Exit” road that leads to the Hope Bay Forest and a fairly popular section of The Bruce Trail through the mature hardwoods to a wonderful lookout from the Niagara Escarpment cliffs above Hope Bay. Continue reading

On weeding the garden, here and there


The well-tended potato plants are starting to bloom north of the border

There’s a lot to be said for growing a garden, especially one as big as mine here at Cathedral Drive Farm in Hope Ness, on the Bruce Peninsula, in Ontario, Canada. It’s like ballet, or any other creative discipline that requires your absolute devotion and attention for hours a day, every day. You can get lost in it, but not aimless. It can be an escape for a while from the world of cares and woe and discouraging news about how the future is likely to unfold; and these days it’s not very good at all.

And, yes, I am referring to the infernal T-word. Continue reading

Seeds of hope, rural roots


Irish Cobbler potato plants looking good, June 7

Let’s look on the bright side again.

Let’s plant some seeds of hope.

Let’s do what we can, where we can, while we can.

Here at Cathedral Drive Farm, surrounded by Hope in reality and spirit, the garden is starting to look good. I can look out my second-floor office window and see multiple rows of sweet corn that a week ago emerged, including quite a bit of seed left over from last season. Continue reading

Keep going


The “new garden” at Cathedral Drive Farm, Hope Ness

Sometimes, in the absence of joy that comes from being in love, or otherwise feeling down for whatever reason, you just have to keep going.

Yes, there’s something to be said for simple endurance and survival, for just putting one foot in front of the other, for the knowing from experience that your life will get better, possibly in the very next moment.

Continue reading

Me and the wildlife


That old chicken coop, or rabbit hutch, or whatever it used to be is long overdue for demolition, I tell myself for the umpteenth time, as I look outside my second-floor, office window. It’s an eyesore, even if it is somebody’s home.

Lately, I’ve noticed a groundhog has borrowed it. That’s my way of putting it anyway. The groundhog itself would regard it as a long-term residence as long as I leave her or him alone. Continue reading

Save the bees from neonic pesticides

I’m beginning to wonder if we’re watching the steady and painful (for bees and beekeepers) death of Canada’s once flourishing honey industry, as honey-bee colonies “collapse” with many millions of bees dying at an alarming annual rate,  especially in Ontario.

The Ontario Beekeepers Association says the loss rate in Ontario during the winter of 2013-14 was 58 percent, three times the national rate, and much higher than the average annual rate of 15 to 18 percent before 2007. The association says that corresponds to the large increase in corn and soybean field crops planted in Ontario and the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides.

There are concerns about the high rate of collapse of honey bee colonies in the U.S. as well. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of California are cooperating with Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency in a “re-evaluation” of the approvals for the use of neonicotinoids, sometimes called simply “neonics,” to kill insect pests that might otherwise do costly damage to cash crops.

Initially, when first approved and put into use, primarily in the late 1990s, neonics like imidacloprid, now the most used pesticide in the world, were thought to be less toxic to birds and animals than previous pesticides. But neonics have become increasingly controversial in recent years as a growing body of research finds evidence of the deadly threat they pose to bees and other beneficial insect pollinators. Continue reading

Routine use of antibiotics in global agriculture a big problem

Coincidentally, I was having my essential morning coffee and listening to my favourite public broadcasting, information radio programming when I caught an item about how some people, children especially, get painful ear infections, while others don’t. The medical specialist being interviewed referred to the use of antibiotics to treat such infections. He mentioned bacterial infections that get into the tiny bones of the inner ear are “difficult to treat.”

I can relate to that, having had a bone infection in a finger a few years ago that was not stopped by antibiotics. I ended up having to make several trips to London, Ontario, the last for a surgical appointment to remove the infected bone. Otherwise the infection would have spread.

I say “coincidentally” because for a couple of days before I caught that radio item I had been immersing myself in an important news topic: the recent discovery of a new gene that has sent shock waves through the medical-scientific world community. The worry now is that because of its make-up and method of transference from one genetically different bacteria to another, the gene, called MCR-1, will eventually make all medicinal antibiotics ineffective. Continue reading

Foolish $9 Billion Plan to Build New Jails

If you live in a rural area, as many of us in this area do, you’ll maybe know the old saying, “the (insert name fruit or vegetable here) want picking.” Well, I’ve got rows of beans that “want picking,” and hundreds of pounds of potatoes virtually crying out from underground to, “please, please, please dig us up soon or heaven knows what we’ll do.” Continue reading