Friday, July 12, 2024
Chris Judd

Are we “green” yet?

Ten days ago I was invited to participate in an Irish parade in Quebec City. It sounded like a fun event and they sure needed a little help, even though there are several large Irish settlements close to Quebec. Then I thought that there were dozens of Irish celebrations, suppers, and parades hundreds of miles closer than Quebec City. Many of those were in our own Ottawa Valley which became the new home of many Irish immigrants more than 200 years ago.
Even the Rideau Canal (which was the largest project in North America at that time) was constructed with mostly Irish labour. Yes, there were English, Scots, German, Prussian, French, and people from a dozen other countries who came to the valley and made it what it is today.
Most of us have one or several ancestors who have fought for our freedom in one or several of the bloody conflicts that we had to endure to keep this world free. Some are still buried in some foreign land where they died so we could be free to make our own decisions in things like language, religion, culture, or who we loved and married. No matter what country our ancestors came from, they all brought skills that were unique to their homeland. Each pioneer brought a song, music, dance, different food, or a unique skill that only they had. Those unique skills make the Ottawa Valley one of a kind in so many ways. Even our music and our language can be distinguished wherever we travel. I played out before I could partake in all the festivities in the valley just for St. Patrick’s Day but wherever I was, I was surrounded by people who spoke different languages, practiced different religions, had ancestors from different countries, but they all enjoyed being together, sharing stories, drinks, and foods. As my son once said on St. Patty’s Day, “either you have a little Irish in ya, or you wish you had.”
After a week or two of Irish parties and parades, formal activities may wind down, but the stories, music, dance, and Blarney will carry on in the coffee shops, bars, and halls wherever a few Irish descendants gather. After you hang around with some of those Valley folks for a while, you may think they don’t have a care in the world, but the Irish have a habit of keeping their worries to themselves and not showing any stress. They keep their friends close, and they love chats with close friends.
Price hikes in housing, food, and fuel have had an effect on the mental fatigue of our world population, and a spike in suicides has our health professionals quite worried. Working from home has its good points, but the loss of social interaction with coworkers has caused more stress in peoples lives. In grandpa’s time, farmers stopped at the fence to give the team a rest while a couple old farmers had a chat and a little social time. Today, there is no break time for the horses and not enough chat time. A cell phone is no replacement for face to face chats. Take time to chat with your friends and realize that you are not alone with problems that many of us have.
Your farm friends may not mention their concern about the maybe early spring, but they are very concerned because it is too early. Some of us received a little snow cover which was gladly accepted to slow down the thawing of the ground. Too much thawing and freezing can break off the very deep roots of the farmers’ alfalfa hay crops and kill the alfalfa plants. There are now many acres of winter wheat that was planted last fall and is now turning green. A few severe frosts in the spring after the wheat is growing again, after being dormant all winter, may kill off large areas of winter wheat. An early spring can make fruit trees like apple, pear, and grapes bud or flower early, and a hard frost can kill those buds and flowers resulting in a very poor fruit crop.
British Columbia has declared that their grape and fruit crops are already destroyed by early frost for this year, and maybe the trees and vines are dead forever. I recently talked to a traveler who noticed that because of drought conditions the Florida orange crop is now very small and picking is finished for this year. Luckily, much of the orange juice that is consumed in North America is made from oranges grown in South America. Those type of conditions may not cause increases in fruit prices now, but in the near future there will be increases. All those wild swings in temperature, droughts, and too much rain at critical times may have been caused by climate change, but increases in food prices that those changes made are real for everyone.

Chris Judd is a farmer in Clarendon on land that has been in his family for generations.

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