Archive for January, 2009

If you wanna reach the Co-op, boy, you gotta get by me

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Farming can be a tough life, but if it doesn’t work out …

… well you can always become a pirate on the river Saskatchewan (arrgghh).

(more Arrogant Worms here)

Blog header image

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

In the approximately year-and-a-half that I’ve been blogging, I haven’t done anything about the appearance of my blog, i.e. I’ve been using the default template that comes with WordPress.

I think I’ll stick with that template for now, but I decided to add a header image, to get away from that boring blue background.  In keeping with the “Philgrim’s Blogress” title, I’ve modified an image based on John Bunyan’s classic allegory.

I’m not entirely happy with the results.  For one thing the colour seems too garish.  Also it seems too busy.

I’ll leave it there for now – but maybe I’ll ask one of my artistic kids to design a header image for me at some time in the future.

Northwest Passage from Stan to Obama

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

I’ve been listening to some of the nominees in CBC Radio 2’s 49 songs from north of the 49th parallel contest, and there have been some good ones, including a couple of Neil Young songs.

However I hadn’t heard any mention of that very Canadian song “Northwest Passage” by the late great folksinger Stan Rogers.  I saw him perform it at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival sometime in the early 1980s, probably a year or two before he died.  The song gave me goose bumps then and it still does.

I checked out the “Obama’s Playlist” website, and yes Northwest Passage by Stan Rogers has been nominated, so I don’t need to do that. However I’ll be sure to vote for it.

I wish I could offer up a YouTube clip of the full song, but all I could find that actually had Stan Rogers singing (instead of covers by other singers), was this short clip that only includes the chorus.

Youtube does have a somewhat longer version, albeit not including all the song’s verses, as background to a montage of icebreaker shots on a CBC documentary that ran on “The National”, that can be viewed here.

UPDATE: I belatedly realized that just because a song had already been nominated didn’t mean that it would make the shortlist (duh), so I emailed in my nomination.

Mack Williams – woodlot role model

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

For the one or two of my readers who might have an interest in private woodlot management, I refer you to the Mack Williams Woodlot Story.

It’s inspiring to read about how Mack transformed a degraded Ontario farm into a thriving mixed forest.   As he states,

… As I age I relax on the property much more than ever before, with a folding chair at various points on the trails. I may read, or just enjoy what Mother Nature has been doing. It is exciting to see, within my adult lifetime, a transition from an open, windswept eroding sandy landscape, to plantations up to 59 years old, some with dense sugar maple understory. I have seen quality logs from trees planted by myself and by family members. I see it becoming a sheltered place of peace and refuge from a hectic world. I am aware of gradual changes happening in the soil. I marvel at the contribution I am sure it is making to quality of air and ground water. I dream that it may become a place for teaching health, biological and artistic subjects. I can see the potential growth that lies ahead, including both the maple syrup and timber potential of the hardwood parcels. I can also see much work I could have done, had I had more time and energy, to make the stands even better. I can see other courses of action I could have taken, with equally exciting results. 
I marvel that Canada is a nation of trees and forests, an ecological, economic, social and spiritual treasure. I wish more Canadians could share this awareness and appreciation. I wish more landowners could have similar dreams and the energy and skills to make them happen. I wish that society might recognize how much it benefits from such a forest, perhaps much more than the individual owners, and how it might benefit greatly from offering realistic support to those engaged in private land forestry …  (ref)

Inspiring stuff for a someone who is just a year into being a private woodlot owner (part-owner).  Mack is a role model worth emulating.

However it’s discouraging to consider that he bought the land in 1946 when he was 22 years old.  I recently had my 52nd birthday, so when I reach Mack’s age (84, 85?), any trees that I plant this year will still be juveniles.  However his story ends with this encouragement …

… And I would hope that landowners everywhere will understand that it is never too early or too late to start.  (ref)

I suppose that if I plant fast-growing hybrid poplar I could still be around to reap the benefits.  However I’m more likely to choose slower-growing native species, and hope that my children and grandchildren will appreciate the results.

Tradition – the democracy of the dead

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

I have never been able to understand where people got the idea that democracy was in some way opposed to tradition. It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record. The man who quotes some German historian against the tradition of the Catholic Church, for instance, is strictly appealing to aristocracy. He is appealing to the superiority of one expert against the awful authority of a mob. It is quite easy to see why a legend is treated, and ought to be treated, more respectfully than a book of history. The legend is generally made by the majority of people in the village, who are sane. The book is generally written by the one man in the village who is mad. Those who urge against tradition that men in the past were ignorant may go and urge it at the Carlton Club, along with the statement that voters in the slums are ignorant. It will not do for us. If we attach great importance to the opinion of ordinary men in great unanimity when we are dealing with daily matters, there is no reason why we should disregard it when we are dealing with history or fable. Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father. I, at any rate, cannot separate the two ideas of democracy and tradition; it seems evident to me that they are the same idea. We will have the dead at our councils. The ancient Greeks voted by stones; these shall vote by tombstones. It is all quite regular and official, for most tombstones, like most ballot papers, are marked with a cross.

G.K. Chesterton – Orthodoxy

Deus Absconditus

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Truly you are a God who hides himself… (Isaiah 45:15)

“I have wished a hundred times over that, if there is a God supporting nature, [nature] should unequivocally proclaim him, and that, if the signs in nature are deceptive, she should suppress them altogether” —but nature prefers to tease, so she “presents to me nothing which is not a matter of doubt” (Blaise Pascal).

For an interesting article on  faith and reason, check out the article The Skeptical Inquirer (If Only Atheists Were the Skeptics They Think They Are), in the Touchstone Magazine archives here.

Anno Domini 2009 – Happy New Year

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

The 2,008th year AD is history.  May this 2,009th year of our Lord be a good one.