A NEWSLETTER FROM THE SALT SPRING ISLAND FARMERS' INSTITUTE This is the Farmers' Institute newsletter for the spring edition - as I float around in t

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This is the Farmers' Institute newsletter for the spring edition - as I float around in the garden, just saw a newly planted potato go bobbing by. Well that was last week, now its too hot to garden!
Please FOLLOW THE BLUE LINKS TO WEBSITES OR VIDEOS. Below is a handy content list.
The Abattoir Society is always looking for volunteers. If you have any spare time please email David Astill at cottonwooddavid@gmail.com
The Compost Pile is just dog jokes for this newsletter. I hope Robbie would like that.


Events, Clubs, Updates
The Compost Pile....................................................Jokes For Everyone
Farm Friends Remembered ........................................................Robbie
The Apple Core..............................................................by Conrad Pilon



A Note From The Board

Farming on Salt Spring Island is a vital and valuable part of the local economy. This island has a rich and varied agricultural history and tradition that spans over 150 years, since Confederation. Local food sustainability is ever more critical to all islanders. But increasingly, rising land prices, production costs, aging farm population and problematic government regulations and decisions at the local level are all compromising the viability of Salt Spring’s agricultural economy.

The Salt Spring Island Farmers’ Institute continues to support the growth of associated farming activities that use appropriate environmental and social farm practices and is proud to be a strong and informed voice for farmers’ interests. In the last year, the Board of Directors’ agenda included such matters as: registering water wells to protect farming rights to groundwater, the negative taxation implications on farms as a result of the incorporation, proposed by-law changes to limit agriculture activities in Rural Zones in the Watershed, what famers need to know about farm status and the need to reassert the priority of local food sales at the Saturday Market.

Often these important agricultural issues result in collaborative work with the Salt Spring Agricultural Alliance or are examined in detail by our members, guests and board directors in the Cultivated Farmer. We encourage islanders view our quarterly newsletter on our web site and get involved in the discussion on island farming matters. We all need to build up agriculture awareness and productivity on Salt Spring. We welcome your support, your advice and your help.

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The beloved music stage at the Farmers' Institute went "kablooey" during the Feb. 4th snow storm.
Plans are underway to repair or make a more permanent structure. The Tuesday work group will make short work of it.



Still Growing Strong


by Brian Brett

Every community is a tapestry woven with the living threads of different individuals and professions. When some of these threads rip or die out the entire community can be endangered, and eventually become an old rag doomed for the dustbin, such as many communities in the rust belts. Not all of these threads are exciting or beautiful. Some are just necessary, such as waste disposal, road repair, an agricultural community to feed the public and offer opportunities for work, food, and culture, etc.,

One of the threads within the agricultural community is an abattoir, a task that can be gory and not admired by the most delicate members of a community, yet without livestock even the vegetarian community would be stressed by the lack of manure to feed the gardens. A good working abattoir can also provide composted offal to return all that energy back to our fields.

Not only does it provide a path for productively slaughtering meat birds, including turkey, geese, and ducks, it also recycles no-longer-productive layers. Properly managed sheep can revive, and has been reviving on Salt Spring, the endangered fields tended so ecologically well by sheep. Every community needs forests, mixed shrub lands, housing, and productive fields. The creation of our own abattoir on Salt Spring has seen the sheep return to tend those fields and provide meat and manure and hides, and even some wool. Once there were 10,000 lambs on the island. After the BSE crisis and the ludicrous regulation regime designed to protect the factory-farms, we were soon down to only a few hundred lambs. Because of our abattoir, however, the volume is growing exponentially. The abattoir is now working on expanding into pork and beef production.

If all goes well and the miraculous survival of this adventure continues we will be well on our way to producing our own non-organic and organic meats in enough volume for all islanders and even a few off-islanders.
That the abattoir even got off the ground is a miracle. Though the community generously donated and scavenged a few hundred thousand dollars to build it, we were soon struggling with massive and sometimes mad regulation that sucked up our surplus and left us struggling.

In five years the abattoir has managed to survive and even expand, but now we are struggling once again. There’s not enough of us. Too many members of the community are using the service and not enough contributing. We desperately need new board members for the abattoir.
Several members of the board are suffering burnout from taking on too many volunteer tasks. But it’s actually only a once a month duty, though several of our initial members have gifted us with immense hours of free volunteer labour and knowledge. This is also where a new group of special volunteers (electrical, plumbing, repairing pens, etc.,) could help us with equipment repairs, occasional clean-ups, and unloading livestock. Whatever. A community project like the abattoir needs community input, and we need yours now, or we will fail.

Unfortunately, a business like an abattoir, with unreliable work hours and some not very pretty work, is always losing and seeking staff. Right now, due to the building boom and the scooping up of island workers, we are short-staffed and threatened with closure if we cannot find people willing to do the work.

What we most need is people who want only part time work or who already have an occupation but could pick up a couple of days of work a month at the abattoir.

That’s right we desperately need volunteers, more board members, and potential employees. All three. We’ve spent long enough working beyond the original organizational setup, now we need a regular backup force of farmers and members of the community willing to pick up some extra work on an irregular basis. This could ensure the survival of the abattoir.

So if you are interested in volunteering, are willing to sit on the board meetings once a month, or could use a day or two of work a month, or know someone eager to see a vibrant mixed community like Salt Spring, and can pick up a little work once in a while, please contact us at the following email address: cottonwooddavid@gmail.com

If you would like to join the board (please!), write to Anne Macy at annemacey@shaw.ca

Let’s make salt spring lamb world famous once again! Let’s strive toward food self-sufficiency! Thanks so much for your help.


Salt Spring Abattoir Society AGM
Wednesday June 21
Farmers Institute 7pm
Everyone welcome

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Everyone Welcome

Salt Spring Abattoir Society


Salt Spring Abattoir Society AGM
Wednesday June 21
Farmers Institute 7pm

Everyone welcome

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Saturday June 10 Redwing Farm - Lamb dinner with Chef Steven Overholt

Buy Your Tickets Early at www.plantofarm.org

Duck Creek poster 2017


Wednesday June 28 Duck Creek Farm - Vegetarian dinner with Chef Marcus Gill

Buy Your Tickets Early at www.plantofarm.org

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Saturday July 22 at Ganders Hatch Farm

Buy Your Tickets Early at www.plantofarm.org

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by Elizabeth White

The Salt Spring Island Agricultural Alliance held its Annual General Meeting on April 6. The Farmers’ Institute, as a senior member of the Agricultural Alliance, appoints three directors to the board. This year the FI appointed directors are Riley Byers, Katsky Venter and Elizabeth White. Katsky brings to the board her experience as a biologist and environmental consultant. Also joining the board is Rob Kline, our former provincial Regional Agrologist, now retired and living on Salt Spring. Rob was appointed by the Salt Spring Island Farmland Trust Society, our newest member organization. Other board members are Tony Beck, Myna Lee Johnstone and John Pattison (Island Natural Growers), Mary Richardson (Transition Salt Spring Society), Li Read (Chamber of Commerce), and Doug Muldoon (Salt Spring Community Market Society). Many thanks to outgoing president Paul Minvielle. This year the baton passes to Island Natural Growers, and Tony Beck and Myna Lee Johnstone have agreed to co-chair.

The Agricultural Alliance is in the process of contacting all commercial growers on Salt Spring to find out how much produce (everything except livestock, which was done last year) was grown in 2016. The results will be compared with previous surveys from 2005 and 2010 and we expect to see increased production, but of course we cannot be certain until the data are in. If you are growing commercially, even on a small scale, and have not been contacted by the study team, please get in touch with Tony Beck tonybeckhome@shaw.ca (778) 353-3916. Survey data is confidential, no information about individual farms is shared and only aggregated data are used in the report. This ongoing work to document produce production over time is unique in BC and informs food security and agriculture groups in the entire region.

Some day soon summer will arrive, and with it the Agricultural Alliance’s ever-popular Farm Dinners. This year’s venues are Duck Creek Farm, Redwing Farm and Ganders Hatch. The farm dinners promote local agriculture to the island and beyond, in addition to raising funds for Agricultural Alliance projects. Many thanks to the host farms, your generosity is truly appreciated. Tickets are $60 and will be available at the end of May on the website, or contact any of the Agricultural Alliance directors.

For more information about the Agricultural Alliance see www.plantofarm.org
or contact the secretary, Elizabeth White 250-537-2616 elizwhite@saltspring.com

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Burgoyne Valley Community Farm

The Salt Spring Island Farmland Trust has been busy at our 60-acre property in the Burgoyne Valley, renting garden plots so families can grow food, and leasing larger acreages to local farmers.

New Farm Centre

We are also working on an exciting new project on Beddis Road to provide a commercial kitchen, food processing and storage, so we can expand our community’s local agricultural production.

Check out our new website, which shows you all the things we are doing, going to do and want to do – and sign up for information bulletins or our newsletter.


Connecting Farmers, Farmland and Food.

Shaw Family Garden - Get On The Waiting list

(20’ x 50’) - $40 per year.
For info see www.ssifarmlandtrust.org
Review: Shaw Family Gardens Handbook
for rules and application form.
Email: shawgardens@ssifarmlandtrust.org

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It’s always exciting to be a member of the Salt Spring Poultry Club and the month of May is no exception. Egg incubators are up and running – four incubators now serve the hatching needs of club members ¬– and the Poultry Club will host one of BC’s foremost domestic waterfowl experts in what promises to be a must-see presentation at 1 PM, May 17th at the Farmer’s Institute.

Barbara Houston’s talk titled “What’s So Special about Ducks?” will be an excellent opportunity to learn about the pleasures and benefits of raising ducks in our seasonally-soaking local region. Free for club members and by donation for all others, everyone is encouraged to attend.

Houston raises Cayuga ducks, known for charcoal-coloured eggs and iridescent plumage, at The Good Farm in Cobble Hill (www.farmthegood.com), which recently became BC’s first farm to be certified as Animal Welfare Approved. AWA certification goes to farms that best ensure their animals’ complete well-being at all life stages. Houston’s ducks range freely over five acres of pasture alongside guinea hens, alpacas and other creatures.

Interest in ducks is running high on Salt Spring. Known for their rich eggs, deluxe meat and pleasant disposition, many flocks fared well this winter on Salt Spring. Local duck buff Tim Harvey reports no losses to predators in his flock and “complete enjoyment of all the cold, wet weather – at least among the ducks.”

Harvey is running the club’s automated waterfowl incubator for the second year. The machine holds about 120 eggs. The next opportunity to submit duck or goose eggs for hatching will come in June (call Harvey at 538-8908). The incubator is currently loaded with an experimental mixed batch of duck and turkey eggs, which each hatch at about 28 days and require similar incubation parameters.

The Poultry Club held a meeting in April that touched on hot topics ranging from incubation under broody hens to Ted Baker’s discussion of the virtues of Leghorn chickens (which lay white eggs and have – for those who can find them – white earlobes to match). We learned that Chantecler hens lay well in winter and Cinnamon Girls do everything poorly year-round. Even the club’s junior members, as young as five years old, were left feeling that if one attends enough club meetings, there isn’t a lot you won’t learn about poultry.
Also at the April meeting, there was a call for members to join the club executive as Margaret Thomson continues with her quest to retire from her deft and valued management of Poultry Club affairs. Thomson announced that biologist Sally John, PhD, will join the executive in months to come. John’s well-researched opinions have long been an asset to the club’s Google Group, where lively discussions touch on every aspect poultry-keeping. Recent topics include curly-toed chickens, local poultry swaps and someone’s mysterious offer of “free peacocks.”

Membership in the poultry club is $10 / year, payable at Island Savings or to a member of the club executive. Anyone interested in joining is encouraged to come to Barbara Houson’s duck presentation at 1 PM on May 17th at the Farmer’s Institute, or to visit saltspringpoultry.com. Questions about the presentation can also be directed to Margaret Thomson at 537-4669.

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by Margaret Thomson & Kristen Peebles

The Weavers and Spinners will be front and centre at the Library for the month of May, with a static display of fibre creations that demonstrate a wide variety of materials and techniques.

Ruckle Farm Day on May 7 WAS ENJOYED BY ALL, with another chance to learn what Guild members like to do. Spinning on a wheel or drop spindle, knitting, weaving on a portable loom or handling raw fibre are all possibilities for the public to watch or try. another sunny day on the farm!

Over the winter volunteers from the Guild have taught many beginners the basics of spinning and weaving at free evening classes at the High School. All made a yarn sample or a small woven item that they could keep, and many have requested further instruction.

A 3 day course is planned for June, covering the basics of weaving, including calculation of materials required, winding the warp and dressing the loom, making 2 small cotton towels in plain weave and twill, and hemming the edges. For more information on this course and for photos of the Guild’s year round activities please go to saltspringweaversandspinners.com.
Submitted by Margaret Thomson

Locally spun, dyed, woven and felted items are on display for the month of May in the Library’s window straight ahead as you go in. Space allows for only a small selection of the fibre art created here by Guild members, but the variety of colours and materials, and the potential to make useful and decorative items may inspire some of the passers by to want to learn more about these ancient crafts.

Guild members enjoy showing and teaching their skills at public events such as Ruckle Farm Day, Heritage Day and the Fall Fair. More formal lessons can be arranged for spinning on a wheel or weaving on a table loom. A weaving course for beginners is planned for June, and will be announced on the website. The Guild has daytime meetings on Thursday mornings and twice monthly evening spinning sessions. We welcome new members and encourage them to tell us their ambitions and become involved in making them a reality. For more information see saltspringweaversandspinners.com.
Submitted by Kristen Peebles


Ruckle Farm Day


Happy Weavers

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by Wendi Gilson

The deadline for application was long past when I noticed the announcement for the upcoming Bee Audacious conference to be held in California. One hundred or so participants were being invited to participate in a unique conference to discuss audacious ideas for the future of bee keeping .Just in case , I sent in my application .My audacious ideas included drastically reducing our dependence on imported honey bees and the elimination of industrial agriculture.
When I didn’t hear back from the conference organizers I took a look at their website to find out who had been invited . When I saw the list of people , I thought , “Oh … I get it ..”. I called up Bonnie Morse , the conference organizer to thank her for her work and to wish them the best for a great conference anyway , even though I wasn’t invited .But –guess what ? I was getting invited ! They just had not gotten around to letting me know .I asked if David , my venerable colleague could come too . Bonnie said ,Yes! And we were off !
David met me at the Fulford ferry . It was snowing so we couldn’t do bees anymore.At the San Francisco airport we meet up with Dianne , the regional apiary inspector from the Caribou .Dianne is wonderful and a pleasure to travel with. We got to know each other in the airport while David was taken away to be interrogated by special security due to the other David MacDonald –a wanted criminal . They let him go and we got a hotel on the 11th floor with full length plate glass windows looking down on the city.We went out walking on the city sidewalks that seemed to have glitter embedded in them .I had forgotten about the large portions they serve in American restaurants .When I couldn’t eat it all , I spent some time trying to give the rest of my burritos to homeless people but no one would accept them, and I had those burritos with me for quite a long time…. In the morning we spent a bit more time in the city and then headed off in our rental car towards Marin County.The route was so idyllic we thought we might be lost. Our phones kept ringing with messages from home –frozen pipes and hoses-problems from beekeepers –but what could we do ? Ha ha.

We arrived at the Marconi Centre for the conference –the setting couldn’t have been more delightful, bare west coast desert type landscape.. Our fellow participants included academic, scientists, commercial bee keepers , ngo heads, government representatives, and extension workers like David , Dianne and I. Except for our keynote speaker, Larry Brilliant, a doctor largely responsible for the eradication of small pox !,it was not a traditional conference in the sense of presentations and speakers . Instead we split off into break out groups with a topic and discussion. At the end of each session a group representative would report back to the larger group. I’d like to further explore this way of doing a conference . it certainly generated a lot of ideas and dialogue. Some of the topics we discussed included, value of bees, pollination, business models, extension services, research, regulation and the ongoing questions about bee health.
In discussion ,it became clear that here, in BC , the services for bee keepers offered by the ministry of agriculture are some of the best. No where else has the extension services, lab testing and ongoing practices that help prevent the spread of disease.
As well as David and Dianne, there was Leo from Russia who said our ideas were not audacious enough, Tom Seelys young and enthusiastic PhD student, the guys from Utah who go around capturing feral colonies, commercial bee keeper Tom Klett from North Dakota talked with me about the situation at Standing Rock. Dr. Li from Shainh Hai said that his local beekeepers were not aware of the fact of pollination by insects.
Tom Seely told a joke and because it was Tom Seeley at first we were all thinking,” wait,,, what?”
At the local meadery we got to taste varietal meads made from carrot blossom, radish blossom, chicory blossom to name a few. And more oysters.
David and Dianne and Dr. Li pulled up some chairs to make an audience for the under appreciated musician hired to entertain us.When she asked for requests and it turned out that she did know Poncho and Lefty and she began to sing it – the Americans began to gather around to sing quietly along to this true outlaw song which , from talking to them there , is the kind of song they –and all of us,are really going to need now.
The final night we were treated to yet another feast and the panel discussion for the public at Dominican University.Check out the link and watch it yourself.Ive been to many many bee meetings and this was the best one .
We said goodbye to Dianne at the airport the next morning and flew back to Victoria. David wisely did not mention anything about the “ other” David MacDonald so we breezed through security and caught the early afternoon ferry home

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by Loretta Rithaler

Hello SSI Farmer’s Institute, fellow Farmers, SSI Community Partners, Supporters and Enthusiasts!

Our 4H members have been off to a busy start to their 4H year, February through beginning of May.

February–March – A new year begins. February saw the members selecting their 4H animal projects and finalizing plans for their non-animal projects, such as Junior Leadership, and thinking about topics for their first big Club event, public speaking. Our Club Public Speaking Event on March 11th, had a terrific turnout of 6 intermediate/senior members, and 6 Cloverbuds. The speeches covered a variety of topics delivered to an enthusiastic and appreciative audience. Our Cloverbud group shared some exceptional “Show and Tell” presentations – it is so exciting to see these young people brave the stage to try this program event. As we know, many adults find public speaking a difficult task; but the Cloverbuds showed us all how it’s done. Emily presented her first full 3-5 minute speech and our new member Zia had made a short presentation as well. Two of our senior members were eligible to continue on to the District Public Speaking event. Unfortunately, one member fell ill the day of the event, but the other carried on to represent our Club on April 3rd. William earned a third place finish, achieving a bronze medal, a Certificate and recognition from a District Sponsor, as well as a spot as the alternate for Regional Public Speaking in the Senior Competition, held in Duncan this year. We are always so impressed at the quality and content of our 4H member speeches and presentations. It’s a true testament to the value of their 4H program and project work – “Learn to do by Doing”. Well done members – keep up the great work!

Surviving the Challenge Camp – March 23-26th - Three of our members, Liam, Quinn and William, attended this exciting 4-day Regional Leadership Camp at Strathcona Park Lodge. This year, this popular event was coordinated and facilitated by our own Junior Leader, Anna. The members returned full of excitement and enthusiasm with stories of all the activities and skills they acquired, not to mention the great food. This is a great opportunity for Intermediate aged campers (aged 13-16) to experience so many of the hands-on skills and opportunities that a 4H camp has to offer. It also presented Anna a chance to put her own 4H skills to work in a leadership role, right from fundraising through to closing evaluations submitted to Regional and Provincial Councils. Attendees provided a snapshot of their experiences to the Club upon their return and we hope to have members attend again next year.

AgriCareerQuest – This 6-day camp held May 4-9th, for members aged 16-21, provides an opportunity to experience the diversity of BC agriculture and explore the many careers the agri-food sector has to offer with this program, a partnership between 4H BC and the Ministry of Agriculture. This year, for the first time in many years, two of our senior Club members were successful applicants for this program. They have just returned from this event and will be reporting on their adventures this coming week. We look forward to hearing all about it from Helena and Joely J

Junior Camp – May 20-22 – Having been selected as a Camp Facilitator for this well-attended camp, our Junior Leader, Anna spent the weekend of May 13-14 with 6 other 4H alumni leader-facilitators at Camp Pringle, Shawnigan Lake, preparing and planning for their upcoming roles at 4H Regional Junior Camp, being held May 20-22, 2014 for 42 junior 4H members, aged 9 to 12 years. They will be a very busy bunch, and we look forward to hearing about it all when she returns.

May 7 – Ruckle Farm Day – (Report submitted by Anna) This annual event in our 4H Club Calendar is an enjoyable one. We missed our two senior members who were away at AgriCareerQuest, as well as some of our dancing Cloverbuds (they had a recital that day) but the rest of our members participated and brought some of their animal projects along. Some of the projects on display included: a piglet, two yearling sheep, ducklings, chickens, rabbits and several lambs. The visiting public enjoyed the display and the Cloverbuds and their parents helped to “person” our ever-successful concession sale with lots of yummy home-made baked goods and beverages. We appreciated the amazing weather and were so excited to be included in this great Saltspring tradition. Our next big event will be Judging Field Day.

May 27 – Judging Field Day – several of our Club members will be participating in this annual District event. They will be participating in Judging classes for the day at Saanich Fairgrounds, alongside approximately 150 of their district 4H friends of various ages. This is an opportunity for members to develop their judging skills, using comparative language and following specific guidelines for assessing the quality of various classes. This year, the classes will include: photography, beef, lamb, poultry, Small engines, swine, cavy, rabbit and fibre arts. Our members have been doing very well in this event over the last couple of years, honing their judging skills – so we wish them well in this fun event.

Next: “Getting Ready for Fair Season”

NOTE: We are seeking judges for the upcoming SSI Fall Fair in the following projects: Fibre Arts, Honeybee, Cloverbuds, Poultry, Photography and Sheep – if you have skills in any of these classes, please contact Loretta at lrithaler@telus.net. We would be delighted to hear from you!
Yours in 4H,

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At Ruckles Farm Day


Everest engaging the audience


William at public speaking event


Quinn giving a talk

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Tug of War

In 1914 a tug-war team, with several members from Salt Spring won a trophy for winning against several teams from the Greater Victoria area. That trophy is now in the museum at the Farmers Institute. On Heritage day this year, which will be held on Sunday, July 16th, we are planning to hold a tug-war contest between teams from Fulford, Ganges, Vesuvius and Fernwood. We are hoping that this will become an annual event. Teams should consist of four people, two men and two women on each team.We need people to volunteer to be on the teams from each of these general areas . I would like one or two people from each area to take on the task of putting together a team, with perhaps two alternates in case anyone drops out. If you are willing to help with this please contact John Fulker at 250-537-4895 or e-mail jandifulker@gmail.com

This year the Salt Spring Farmers Heritage Foundation has been approved for a grant from the Canada 150 Fund to build a media room as an extension to the museum. The primary purpose for the room will be to show films etc and put on talks aimed at groups of students from the island schools. There will also be pictorial displays and information boards giving detailed information about the agricultural heritage of Salt Spring. This will enable us to give better information to regular visitors to the museum than we can with the present displays which mainly consist of artifacts. If we are able to get all of the necessary permissions then work will start on the extension early this summer.

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A guy was driving around the back woods of Kentucky and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house: ‘Talking Dog for Sale’

He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard.

The guy goes into the back yard and sees a nice looking Beagle sitting there. ‘You talk?’ he asks. ‘Yep,’ the Beagle replies.

After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says

‘So, what’s your story?’

The Beagle looks up and says, ‘Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA and they had me sworn into the toughest branch of the armed services… the United States Marines. You know one of their nicknames is ‘The Devil Dogs.’

In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders; because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running, but the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger. So, I decided to settle down.

I retired from the Corps (8 dog years is 56 Corps years) and signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals. I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I’m just retired.’

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

‘Ten dollars,’ the guy says.

‘Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?’

‘Because he’s such a liar… He never did any of that stuff.

He was in the Navy!’

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Farm Friends Remembered

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Ruckle Heritage Farm has lost another of their wonderful border collies, Robbie passed recently at 12 years - gone too soon.
Robbie sired 3 litters, many of his puppies are beautiful border collies here on Salt Spring Island. He loved to attend the annual Fall Fair, and revelled in all the attention from those passing by to say hello. Robbie was a real pet, a devoted pal. He was fearless working with the cattle; not so keen with the sheep after being injured but always worked when he was called upon. Like his father Nash, and his "Uncle" Mario, he will be so missed at Ruckle Farm.


Robbie taking a break

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The Apple Core

World Wide APPFACTS, Part 2

by Conrad Pilon

In my first batch of World Wide APPFACTS I sought to reasonably explain why Apple is called Apple, to describe the ultimate appleholic's labour of love (an apple tree with 250 varieties) and to research the future of apple consumption in slices! Here are three more interesting gems I inadvertently bumped into while trolling the the world wide web for fruit cultivation material to include in past articles. Confirming once again that the world wide web is impressive for one thing: random browsing of random things. Sometimes those things are incredibly boring and sometimes, well, somewhat intriguing.

Malusdomesticaphobia (the fear of apples).

While looking up information for a January 2015 article on canker and other bacterial diseases that regularly scourge West Coast orchards, I came across one humankind's rare maladies. For those wondering if there is an actual Fear of Apples it is called Malusdomesticaphobia, derived from the scientific name for apples, which is ‘Malus domestica’ and the Greek word ‘phobos’ meaning ‘fear'. Phobia is often described as a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it. In this case, it is the fear of all apples, large or small, sweet or tart, and sometimes also associated with the fear of eating apples.
For me, the taste and smell of apples is connected with happy memories of late-summer days on my uncle 'Calvret' Thibeault's farm near Mont Laurier, Quebec. But for some, however, APPFACTS found that the smell and/or taste of apples can trigger Malusdomesticaphobia. A condition that is, more often than not, connected to a life changing experience such as choking on an apple while eating it, or if apples were one of the few available foods when young, the person may express anxiety about returning to that part of his or her past, dread the memories; or, just plain sitting under an apple tree and being the unwilling victim of gravity as the cursed fruit makes contact with the cranium (as documented in the scientific laws of Sir Isaac Newton).
One web site implores the browser that if he/she should know anyone suffering from Malusdomesticaphobia they must let them know that “they are not alone”. The source states that this condition is abnormal but statistics show that one in 342 people have at least a mild case. (Based on this formula, a quick calculation would suggest that on Salt Spring there could be as many as 30 islanders suffering from Malusdomesticaphobia). Who knew!
The apples are coming to get you, but the web's own Apples Anonymous claims that...“together we can conquer our fears”!

The Origin of the Apple (A very Brief History).

In January 2014, in the Article Apples from Seed, I briefly referenced the name of Johnny Appleseed, a figure that is embedded into the lore and history of apple cultivation in North America. His real name was John Chapman (1774-1845) from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and if you had been on the Ohio River around 1806 you just might have bumped canoes with this temperamental businessman distributing/selling apple seeds and trees to settlers. By the time he died, he had established a chain of apple nurseries from Pennsylvania through Ohio and into Indiana. Truth be known, APPFACTS found that the popularity of pioneer apple cultivation had more to do with cider than apple pie. Settlers were indeed strongly inclined to cider and the apple was held to high esteem on all frontiers...there was hardly anything else to drink!

But I am centuries ahead of myself and already into too much detail, this piece is intended to be A very short history of the Origin the Apple. So, in brief, the apple is recorded in the diet of early humans in anthropological research, fixed in the biblical story of Adam and Eve and listed as the popular fruit of choice by Ancient Greeks and Romans. APPFACTS found that anthropologists have established that humans have been eating apples as far back as 6500BC. While the apple is popularly known as the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden, it is not specifically mentioned anywhere in the Bible. Though some scholarly scripture scrutineers did single out one reference in the Song of Solomon 2:3 : “As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so [is] my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit [was] sweet to my taste.”

While there is debate about and some suspect apple connection in the Bible, there is complete agreement in both the scientific and scholarly communities around the world as to the place of origin. The greatest biodiversity of any species is typically found in the place where it first evolved, in the case of the apple, the 'center of diversity' as botanists like to call it is Kazakhstan.

The origin of your favourite Salt Spring apple can been traced back to the wild apple genes gathered in the Kazakh forests over hundreds and thousands of years. Cross pollination, climate, various botanical factors, trade and commerce and good old human ingenuity notwithstanding!

China and world apple production.

According to World Wide APPFACTS on deciduous fruit, the average person eats 65 apples a year and Turks go through the most number of apples per person in the world. So, to meet this consumer demand the planet produces (in 2012) 76, 378,700 tonnes of pomme fruit. The top apple-producing countries are China, the U.S., Turkey, Poland, and India. China harvests more than half the world's annual apple production (the USDA post forecasts China’s apple production at 43 million tons in marketing year 2015/16), while Canada ranks 35th in world production with 269, 837 tonnes.
China is one of the earliest and most important centers of origin of cultivated plants in the world. Many deciduous fruits such as peach, Asian pear, apricot, plum, jujube, chestnut and filbert that are grown today are native to China. Among deciduous fruit crops grown in China, apple is far ahead in acreage and production. Pomology is an agricultural science that started in China nearly 6000 years ago. Of note, the Fuji apple makes up an astonishing 72 % of Chinese commercial apple output. In North America, the Red Delicious apple is among the most widely commercially grown apple varieties.
In an informal survey of apple producers, Chinese horticulturalists in one Province found that about one-third of apple producers lose money, one-third break even, and one-third make money. They indicated that the determining factor is the farmer’s management abilities and willingness to adopt improved production methods along with good agricultural practices. However, some growers follow the old adage that if a little is good, a lot must be better. When applied to chemicals and fertilizer, this philosophy creates residue and environmental issues for the farmer and sometimes for neighbours.
In comparison, back on Salt Spring Island, Morton Stratton described in Farms, Farmers, Farming, the peak periods of apple production. In 1913, the harvest totaled 20,000 boxes, assuming 40 Lbs boxes at 2 Cents a pound, the yield would have netted $16,000 !
Author's Disclaimer

The information provided in the APPFACTS articles are designed to provide helpful and humorous information on the subjects randomly discussed about the very broad field of pomology.
I wrote and submitted the January article on APPFACTS, Part 1, to the editor of the Cultivated Farmer, Mr. Mike Lakin, Esquire, at least one week prior to the "Alternative facts" phrase used by U.S. Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, during a Meet the Press interview on January 22, 2017, in which she defended White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's false statement about the attendance at Donald Trump's inauguration as President of the United States. To be implicitly clear, APPFACTS have NO connection, link or remote association whatsoever with new trend and tweets of "Alternative facts".


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May 2017