Letters to the editor – December 24, 2020

Prairies experience drought and flood

As a primary food producer in Western Canada, any article regarding the climate, like “North American farmers warned to prepare for a long dry spell” in the Dec. 3 Western Producer, catches my undivided attention.

Through my school years and from my father-and-uncle years, I was told about drought and how weather affected our farm and the region.

The earliest drought I was taught about was the Palliser Expedition of the 1850s. Palliser led a group that travelled across the southern Northwest Territories. He viewed the flora and fauna plus kept records about the weather. He recommended no settlement in the southern districts of Assiniboia, later Alberta and Saskatchewan, because it was a drought area and would not support settlement.

The next drought I learned about was in the 1880s. Then, toward the end of the First World War, we were in a wet period. By the mid-1920s we began a droughty term. By 1929, fellow farmers in western and southern Saskatchewan had no crop. That escalated into the Dirty Thirties. Until this point in the article, I had 100 percent agreement with the piece.

The 1950s were wet. In 1954, my father and uncle planted a crop. By harvest they had to wait until freeze-up to combine. And, even then, their combine would break through the frozen ground and get stuck. 1955 was worse. They could not seed because of wetness. In fact, roads washed out that year. They had no 1955 crop.

The next drought was in the late 1980s. Drought, yes, but there were some minor wet periods. Drought was sporadic. The next drought was in the very early 2000s, ending in 2004.

From about 2008 until 2016 we were in a flood period.

We are already in a drought term. It started in 2017 — 2017 and 2018 are the second and third driest years we have had in the past 40 years.

In fact, a weather knowledgeable person told me recently that he believes we are headed into a 30-year drought because we are due or overdue for a major drought, and it will be intensified because of various farmer activities that have reduced our water supplies on the Prairies.

Weather will always be like a windshield wiper. It will go far right and far left, never just over the centre of the coverage area.

Delwyn J.J. Jansen

Humboldt, Sask.

Fighting intolerance during COVID-19

They came because of COVID-19. Rather than stay in the city, they arrived to spend the long haul of the COVID-19 lockdown on the prairie farm of Nana and Papas. With lots of work to do they could earn some extra money, but the integration process required 14 days of social isolation from their grandparents in the basement.

They were willing victims as our newly renovated basement contained a 65-inch TV with a games centre, surround sound and a reclining theatre type unit with complete access to movies and games. Life in the grandparents’ basement circa 2020 was reasonably well confined. The meals were carefully served from the top of the stairs and various home-made snacks and baking were provided. The grandchildren were living in style in isolation. So far so good.

However, soon the protests began. Loud groans of discontent arose as they described the awful aromas with detail, and the various sounds from trumpets to Gatling guns and loud kabooms. Digestive discontent of such a resoundingly disruptive nature was blamed on lactose intolerance.

The source of which was fortunate enough to gain his own bedroom, his companion choosing the couch over the king size bed. It seemed odd to me, and quizzing parents revealed that none of them had been that lactose intolerant coming into the isolation.

However, could it be that one with a slight lactose intolerance had now developed into a full-blown digestive discontent. No more cheese or ice cream, please.

But after the unnamed source of the invasive conditions cut back on the ice cream and cheese, the condition had not eased. More questioning was in order of the pervasive condition.

Then it dawned on the cook that it was likely not cheese, but pulses. You see in my kitchen, I cook with a lot of lentils, whole and split and in flour, every day in some form — as a vegetable, an ingredient in dishes or in soups and even baking. I serve not only lentils but a pulse in some form. For some people, the adjustment period to pulses in the diet tends to have an impact on the bacteria in the gut, and flatulence is a notable result. And so it was discovered that the lactose intolerance was a lentil intolerance. Holy moly.

Luckily for the basement dwellers, the isolation period lasted only 14 days. Being outside really helps, and as miracles of the diet are, the gut adapts to the new food and the tumultuous impact becomes subdued, as in most cases the gut adapts to the new food group and the disruption of gas less intense.

And so it was with the basement dweller of no-name (names not published to protect the innocent but he does play a mean defence in hockey).

Other than the basement moments, we had a super experience with our COVID-19 basement dwellers, and we had lots of great help and time to get to know the grandchildren. Best of all we now have grandkids who truly appreciate the farm, learned some new skills, built and finished projects and even one that thinks rural life is quite amazing. And, indeed, we have grandkids who definitely appreciate the benefit to gut bacteria of pulses in their diet — once the gut adapts, of course.

Vicki Dutton

Paynton, Sask.


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