Sunday, November 30, 2014

Who is cowboyjunkey?

In the late nineties as I started getting on the internet and signing up for sites I needed a username. I'm not sure when exactly or for what site this happened but I tried "cowboyjunkie" after the band The Cowboy Junkies. No luck - it was already taken. So I tried mis-spelling the ending and it worked. I don't recall a site yet where it hasn't worked over the past 15 years. I had stumbled upon something original. At the time I didn't know how much of an influence they had or would have over my life.

I listened to them through high school in the early nineties after getting hooked by their version of Sweet Jane. In university there was almost always one of their CD's in my stereo  There is something about their music that speaks to me. I love so many artists and types of music but I always come back to them.

Currently they are doing some blog posts on the recording of the Trinity Session. When I first heard this story of how the album came together many years ago it got me even more hooked on their music. I don't think the way they did it is better than anyone can do it today - its the process and the story that I love. They were, after all, using a high-tech microphone of the day. Everyone was setup around it - "If someone had a solo section they were asked to play a little louder during it (in the case of an electric guitar) or move physically closer to the mic (in the case of something like a mandolin).

Take some time and read the posts below:

A Look Back At….The Trinity Session (history – part 1 of 3)

A Look Back At…The Trinity Session (history – part 2 of 3)

A Look Back….The Trinity Session (history – part 3 of 3)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Neonics, bees, & agriculture

The recent announcement by the Ontario government looking to reduce neonicotinoid use in agriculture has got a lot of people up in arms. CropLife Canada claims this will bring about widespread tillage and loss of productive soil. Grain Farmers of Ontario claim that it will lead to the end of the family farm. Many farmers on Twitter are upset its more government regulation.

The fact is there have been problems with neonics in Ontario and some changes need to be made. In most areas in the rest of Canada seed treatments with neonics and bees live in harmony.  Ontario farmers have made changes and things have improved. Whether more regulation is needed I'm not sure but I do know if the technology is that valuable farmers will find a way to keep it.

This isn't a ban. Farmers will need to prove their need for it. Its all about good agronomy. Start doing your work now to show what pests you have and why you need it. The coming season gives you a chance to try test strips without the insecticide and evaluate.

And don't forget to participate in the consultation over the next couple of months. Make your voice heard. But please make it a calm and rational voice. Shouting matches between all parties doesn't serve anyone.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Seed starting for my garden

This year I got inspired to start seedlings again from Gardenfork with the videos on this post:

Last year I tried putting them in the garage window (south facing) but they ended up not doing so well and through the videos I learned why - not enough light. 

I started in March with a setup in the furnace room.* I used adjustable shelving so that I can set the height and change easily when needed. For next year I can put a shelf on top of the hanger that hold the lights and put some more hanger higher up for another light.

(* actually I initially started on the kitchen counter with one tray under the counter light. But that soon got crowded. However it did serve the purpose of getting my son interested in starting his own seeds.)

A few weeks ago I decided to move them to the garage to start acclimatizing them to cooler nights and cooler day temps. The garage is not heated but it only goes below 0C when the outside temp is below -10C. So with some freezing nights on the way I wasn't too concerned until I realized that when I open the garage door they could be hit with a momentary blast of freezing air!  Then I got an idea ...

I had some auto shades left over that I cut to fit behind and then ...

... I built a frame from stakes that marked oil & gas pipelines in my fields and attached the auto shade to it with staples.

Not only are they protected from a blast of cold air much more of the light is reflected back in!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Loose leaf tea without the mess

Loose leaf tea needs to be brewed ... well ... loose so that the leaves aren't matted together and water gets around them. The problem I have is that after dumping the used leaves a  fair amount is still stuck in the strainer. This means more water for washing and leaves that go down there drain to water treatment rather than to my composer where they belong.

Then I got an idea. Press a basket style coffee filter in. The filter easily breaks down in my compost and is easier to remove. Below are some pictures of making it work. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ten years as a Western Canadian

Ten years ago I arrived in Western Canada. I'll still never forget breaking through the tree line of Northern Ontario and seeing the wide open spaces of Manitoba! I was amazed to see a full 100 car train all at once. And I was so excited to to wake up to -25C in Winnipeg. I loved the cold, crisp air and the sound of the snow out walking. Never had needed to plug the car in before in my life. Though there is no place like home, I knew I had arrived. Over the course of this year I'm going to try to tell some of the stories of my first ten years.