Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I get paranoid about big brother.....

I was listening to The Survival Podcast from Monday, the listener feedback show. A listener linked an article about a proposed traffic study to take place in the Bay area of California. This study would look at the feasibility of charging drivers based on mileage, where each vehicle would have a tracking device installed in them and be tracked by roadside reading devices. This plan has been touted as a way to reduce traffic and pollution, as well as raise much needed funds for local government coffers. It is no secret that many cities in California are declaring bankruptcy and the state itself is getting close to the brink as well. The layers of government are trying to find new and tricky ways to sell the citizens with hidden taxes based on security and the environment. Why am I talking about a situation that is happening in California? Well if you haven't noticed, we tend to emulate our neighbors to the south on things such as the environment, taxation and the like.

Our own "Carbon Tax" has been around since 2008. Besides raising the price of gasoline at the pumps, significant changes to our driving habits have not happened. I see huge V-8 pick up trucks on the road constantly. We use a lot of gas and diesel, as well as natural gas and heating oil, in our daily lives. Our infrastructure is set up for vehicle traffic. We have sprawled out from cities to make a daily commute of a half an hour or more a normal thing. Using lots of gas, thus giving the Provincial government a pile of tax money. I know the Carbon Tax is supposed to be a neutral tax, with cuts to our personal income taxes to make up for it. The idea is if you use less fossil fuel then you save on taxes and that puts more money in your pocket. Fair enough. I like the idea of consumption taxes. We should have more of them. We should have a consumption sales tax in communities to contribute to paying for landfills and recycling. If you haven't thought about all the trash that increases in an area when a box store opens, maybe you should. New products replace old ones that end up where? You guessed it. All the packaging and shipping containers need to be recycled, costing lots of money. Where does it come from? From us, each and everyone, even if you buy very little.

I am getting off topic. The idea of a tracking device in a vehicle is already here. Toll bridges, like the new Port Mann over the Fraser River between Surrey and Coquitlam, you can have a tracking tag that is affix to your vehicle. Every time you pass the sensor it registers you and a bill comes once a month, or your credit card is charged. That is all fine, it speeds up the traffic. Stopping and physically paying an attendant takes time and can cause delays. Now what if the municipalities decided that a way to add revenue for transit could be to tack on another dollar every time you cross the bridge. Maybe not on the bridge, but once you enter the municipalities borders? Okay fine, we need more transit to get people out of their cars. I can handle that. What if you accidentally speed while in this town and pass their sensor. Pretty easy technology can track how fast you are travelling. No more looking for ghost cars. Then you have been tracked driving 50 kilometers around the city. More charges? This is all an easy thing for municipalities to implement once they convince the residents that it is the only way. Governments can spin things so fast it will make you head spin and before you know it we are getting charged a kilometer based levy. To pay for road improvement, for transit, for green initiatives? Not bloody likely. It will be to raise money to help get the governments out of debt.

With Big Agriculture lobbying all levels of government and telling them what is good for us to eat, we have epidemic levels of modern diseases. Diabetes, some cancer, auto immune diseases, obesity, and heart disease can be a product of eating this modern agricultural diet. We are eating ourselves sick and the government subsidizes these corporations who create the poison we put in our mouths. Then we pay through the nose to help people get better with our health care costs. Our measly little contribution to health care that we make monthly is peanuts compared to the true costs. And we pay for those in our income, property, sales, and other hidden taxes like fees and licensing. More and more jobs take place in front of a computer with less and less physical effort. Another contributor to an unhealthy society.

Where am I going with this? Of course to the bicycle. I am worried about big brother getting involved in my life, tracking my where abouts and taxing me for going on a road trip. One reason to ride a bike. You will save the cost of fuel, tolls, carbon taxes and in the future mileage tax. The government needs to finance infrastructure for us on two wheels. It doesn't mean building segregated bike lanes everywhere, costing a fair amount on themselves. I propose using less busy streets, signed as commuter routes, to keep interactions between busy traffic and bicycles. Arterials for bicycles in and out of an area would be good, between communities. Bicycle infrastructure cost one 10th of what is built for autos. These are great investments for the future. Eventually we will have gasoline and diesel that will be to expensive for average people to purchase, and it will be needed to move products not people.

By promoting bicycles as a safe, viable transportation model that is cheap for everyone, needs no corporate subsidies, does not pollute and can help to reduce our overall size of the residents(in terms of mass not population).

And a side note. I heard that if you put up a "No Smart Meter" sign on your house, you WILL get a smart meter. BC Hydro will not allow people to keep the old ones for long. Maybe a year? Probably not long, and apparently once they come back to install the smart meter, you will be charged to have the meter put in whether you like it or not. Sorry to say, but if you were stealing power from the utility for a grow op, which smart meters are supposed to be able to pin point, wouldn't you say no to a smart meter? Just saying......

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Adventure 29- Homesteading skills

Number 1 helper
This week we did a little bit of a different adventure. The previous day Natalie and I went for a long bike ride and a hike up Bradley Creek in Union Bay. Our goal was a wonderful waterfall on the aforementioned stream. With limited time to make it to my Grandma's house for a celebration for her birthday we had to cut the hike short. We will return and visit a place that meant so much to me as a child. A late night left us a bit tired and I had purchased twenty pounds of fresh, crimson canning tomatoes from Bates Beach Farm, on Saturday that needed to be processed.
The weather was forecast for showers and cooler temperatures, a perfect summers day to spend in the kitchen canning and playing with different things. We started the day with our first visit with Marshall to the new dog park in Cumberland. We all had a blast in the cool moist morning air, a nice respite from the heat that has been around that past few weeks. With Marshall sufficiently exercised we came home for breakfast. I made the best Paleo pancakes yet. Whipping the heck out of some egg whites really added to the fluff factor of the cakes when using ground almonds, plus no sugar. I did us plenty of maple syrup though. Natalie decided to make herself a smoothie because for some reason she dislikes pancakes? Weird kid. Maybe it is because I forgot to buy bacon this weekend.
Proud stitcher
After breakfast it was time to start on the tomatoes. I boiled a pot of water to scald the fruit as to assist in the removal of the skins. A tedious process, skinning and cleaning, but it makes for a much better product. Natalie helped me for a while but she was grossed out by the seeds and watery mess. I let her run the blender and put away some dishes. Soon the pot was full of cleaned fruit and simmering. I added a bunch of herbs from the little garden on my deck for seasoning and kept it simple. I will add other vegetables when it gets used for cooking later on.
Finished product
Natalie saw all the cherries out on the neighbors tree. It's branches spill into our backyard and she went out to sample them. I can not remember a year where this giant tree has had so much fruit on it, and she could reach some with a little booster step. They tasted good. Sour cherries. Out came the ladder and we soon had picked two pounds. That was fun. I have since pitted half of them and they will make glorious dried cherries. I am dreaming about pemmican with them. Natalie prepared some yam for the dehydrator for storage and to take on camping trips. Dehydrated vegetables and beef jerky make a great camping soup for us caveman eaters.
Zucchini chips
Natalie had learned to sew at daycare, her and Shawna made a few things and Natalie has been bugging me about doing more. I thought that I had a sewing machine in the crawlspace. Unfortunately it was not there when we went to look. A bit disappointed I said that she could sew with a needle and thread. I know how to do that! So she found an old tee shirt and I showed her how to tie a knot and start working the needle back and forth. I worked on some other stuff, and low and behold, she made herself a pillow! That was so cool. It is amazing how a young child can teach themselves things. I think the traditional skills are in all of us, and all it takes is a little help from an adult with half a clue, me being the guy with barely half a clue about sewing. I finished off a wooden spoon that had been waiting for some more whittling for sometime now. It turned out well too.
My spoon

We managed to dry a big batch of vegetables, prep beef jerky for drying overnight tonight, build an ingenious  cherry pit tool, pressure can our sauce, sew, and do some house work. It was a very productive day capped with a mouth watering dinner including wild mallard duck, local organic new potatoes and cauliflower and one of the left over tomatoes. The duck was a gift from my Uncle Gerry. Natalie loved it. I am super happy as duck hunting is a favorite past time of mine and I hope to put some in the freezer this winter.

I would like to see more adults introducing their children to the traditional skills of our grandparents. Either it be food preservation, baking, gardening, wild harvesting, or old time crafts, there is a lot to learn and to keep those skills alive with the next generation so there are not lost forever. Plus it is a really cool way to learn stuff with your children and spend quality time with a nice end product. Find Adventure.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Preparedness and Food Security

Lacto Fermenting. Garlic Scapes, dill pickles, and chow chow.

I have been wanting to write about the subject of food security for a few months now. This subject has come to the forefront in my thinking since watching "Island on the Edge"  a film that looks at the possibility of no outside inputs to bring food to Vancouver Island. On the Island we only grow about 10% of the food locally that we eat throughout the year. So what happens if we have a major storm event. A huge cold front from Alaska hits a warm current in from the Pacific, a winter weather bomb. Massive snow, hurricane force winds, power outages and impassable roads. Nothing is moving for potentially days, maybe a week. Your power has been out for three days, your children are cold and hungry, food in the freezer is starting to thaw and the perishables in the refrigerator have all been consumed. So what do we do?

This situation is pretty extreme for the Pacific Northwest. I have never seen such an event in my years of living on Vancouver Island, at least the mid to southern parts. I know the north end has been hit with many huge storms that can close off the lone highway between communities and the rest of the rock. Could something else happen, or something worse? Of course. Earthquakes are a real possibility, so are forest fires, or floods. There are other worldly things that could possibly happen, but you get the picture. We need to be ready, in a pinch, if and when something out of the ordinary happens. Do you have three days, a week, a month of food on hand at all times. Food that will not spoil, in long term storage? What about water, heat, cooking? So many possible situations.

For years the idea of having food items long term stored in a pantry has been an interest for me. I have canned some fruits and jams, frozen berries, fish, and veggies. As a hunter/gatherer I have had many bits of wild edibles around, including deer meat, salmon, wild mushrooms, ducks and nettles. Long term storage has  basically been about freezing with some dehydrating involved. With the purchase of a pressure canner last summer my long term storage food preparations have gone up a couple of notches. Salmon, mushrooms, other meats are safely canned, and soups, stocks, sauces and stews can be bottled and put away for future use. A properly home canned product will last easily for a year or more. It is safe, easy and fun. Just follow the instructions to a tee with the recommended times and pressure. Low acid foods can not be safely processed in a water bath canner. They need to be brought above atmospheric pressure and above the boiling point to actually kill all the bacteria that could potentially spoil your food and make you very ill.

Other means of long term storage include lacto fermenting. Lacto fermenting uses the naturally occuring bacteria that are found all around us to cure the product. Fermenting is only limited to ones imagination and the amount of salt you have on hand. A few extra containers of coarse sea salt is something that every home should have in your cupboard. It is crucial in the preserving with lacto fermenting, as well as drying meat. Salt curing is on my list of things to try this winter when I have some deer meat around. The salt will pull the moisture out of the meat and allows it to be stored out of refrigeration. It is similar to jerky but it takes much longer. Biltong is an example of this kind of curing. Hams and salami are other types of cured meat using salt and wood smoke. I have never made any of these items, and they are also on the list of interesting things to try.

Many simple things that people can do to prepare for a bad "week". I suggest keeping a plastic tote somewhere safe and dry with various bits of storage foods in it. Include a bag or two of rolled oats, some whole wheat pasta,, canned fish like salmon or tuna. Sardines are another option. If it is within your means dehydrate a mix of vegetables and mushrooms. They are great additions to a soup that is easily made by boiling water, adding some jerky, pasta, bullion cube and dried veggies. Jerky is as easy or as complicated as you want to make it. Recipes abound on line and find one that looks tasty. Just remember to remove as much of the fat as possible. The fat will go rancid and ruin your prep. Plant a garden to help with your own food security. Start small, every little bit helps. If your municipality allows for backyard hens, leap at the opportunity.  Eggs are one of the greatest sources of protein and healthy fats, plus hens will eat almost anything. Kitchen compost scraps are great food for your flock, turning waste into food. I plan on having backyard hens as soon as we can convince our municipal government that they are okay.

The greatest thing that we all can do is to support our local farmers. More food that is grown locally the greater our food sovereignty. Less inputs from off the island means we are potentially less affected by major interruptions in transportation. Buy in season and put stuff up by canning, freezing, dehydrating and a combination of the methods. Don't be afraid to try things. If you don't have success, you will have learned something so next time it will be better. Read, ask questions, and play in the kitchen. It is so fun and satisfying to look in the cupboard and know that if there is a disaster, you, with your own hands, made it possible to eat even if SHTF. Getting out and meeting your neighbours is so important. The closer relationship you have with the folks is your community, and show them that you are a good person is the best security one can have. People will have to band together and help out. It is much easier with people you know and care about. It is much easier to feed your neighbours than to.....well we don't need to get into that. Keep it Local.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Adventure 28- Bullhead Fishing

Dusty came with us too, of  course
The other day Natalie asked me if I could take her fishing in the ocean. With a grin I said absolutely. After her last experience fishing in Lower Campbell lake a couple weeks ago she is hooked on the sport. I just can not believe how she has gotten turned on by the sports that she showed a complete lack of interest in before. With biking, backpacking, and fishing, she has turned into a very great partner for more adventure than I though she was up for. And I am beaming about it!
Is that a mermaid?
We scooted down to Union Bay this past Thursday to try our hand for some bullheads, or sculpins. They are a small bottom fish that can grow up to about eight inches long. I have seen some really large ones caught over the years. As a kid if you caught a really big one, we called them cross skulls, you were part of legend. I fished the waters around Union Bay all summer between the ages of 10 and 13, catching more bullheads than I can ever remember. We were not the kindest to these little, strange looking creatures. I will not go into detail, but we were terrible pre-teen boys trying to impress each other. The muddy, relativly flat bottom of the boat launch area of Union Bay is prime habitat for these little ambush hunters. A bull head will eat pretty much anything that it can possibly get in it's mouth. Our favorite bait back in the day was to use hotdogs. I remember finding week old hotdogs in my tacklebox, dryed out and smelly. Once I even found a dead bullhead in my box. I thing it still has that odour lingering, even after two plus decades. Bullhead tails were a favorite bait, as were crabs, "China Hats" or limpets, perch or salmon bits. Invariably we would always have a "meat line" out. A heavy twine with either a full bullhead or a salmon head and giant hooks. We were shark fishing and would often catch dogfish in the same area. Now that was excitement!
Mt. Arrowsmith, Guardian of the Salish Sea

With the traditional fishing set-up of a light spinning rod, a couple of spinners, hooks, weights, power bait and a bag of Miss Vickies we were set for some action. I allowed Natalie to thread the line up through the eyes on her rod and tie up the hook. We added a bobber to the line and bait on the hook. We were fishing. We devoured the chips in no time and were having no luck with the bobber set up. So to make it more fun for Natalie I switched the bait and bobber for a spinner so she could at least cast and retrieve. Much more fun and interactive. I remember as a kid I loathed trolling. It was all my dad wanted to do. I read fishing magazines and stories of guys catching salmon on Buzzbombs and Zzingers, driftfishing. That was what I wanted to do. Drop a lure to bottom, jig it up and down and see what you can get. My uncle used to let me do just this and once I caught an eight pound chinook bottom bouncing for bullheads at Pallister Rock. That was cool!

She casted and casted. I took pictures and regaled her with stories of when I was young. The tales of hotdog bait and dogfish and how terrible we were back then, wasteful. She totally gets it. I know one thing for sure. All my conservative talk has rubbed off on her(not the Steven Harper kind). I love that she gets that we need to look after our critters, plants and finned friends. She understands how impactful we can be as humans and that change needs to happen. This is where the change will happen. I can try to influence people from far and wide but our next generation will be where the real differences are going to come from.
So many memories for me, and for her now too.
We managed to get a total of no bites and no nibbles. Natalie had lots of practice tossing out the line. She snagged rocks and seaweed but learned how to free the hook from its impediment. I enjoyed just being at the ocean with the magnificent views down Baynes Sound, Mt Arrowsmith and the Beaufort Range. Tree Island and Denman just blocking the Salish Sea and Texada Island. What a place I grew up and to share with my daughter one of my most favorite hobbies as a youth was incredibly special. We will return, with small marabou jigs tipped with bait. Those little suckers live on the bottom, so we will go down to them and next time she will catch one, and that picture will be the most precious that I could take. Find Adventure.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

G.A.B.S. Bicycle saddle

My bike with the G.A.B.S. saddle
I have been curious for a good many years at this odd bicycle saddle that a Courtenay man invented called the G.A.B.S. bicycle saddle. I have seen this fellow and his saddle featured in the local papers and driven by his house in downtown Courtenay several times, never stopping, but knowing that one day I would. The G.A.B.S. would have a vehicle in the holiday parades in town for the past bunch of years and I was not sure if this was a going concern or mostly a R and D kind of thing. Last summer while on tour I suffered from a horrible case of saddle sores. I was unable to comfortably ride after the first day. With so many more kilometers to go and hills to climb, it was pain that I do not want to re-visit. Thoughts of this strange saddle danced in my head as I grimaced up another kilometers long hill, trying to keep the weight off my backside to relieve the pain.

A few weeks ago after the Farmers Market, I was puttering about town and decided to stop in and see this invention for my own eyes. Maybe try one out. The sign said "Open" and I rang the bell. An elderly gentleman answered the door, and introduced himself as George. We had a chat and soon he had me sitting on his bike that was attached to a trainer. I spun the pedals and we talked about the mechanics of how a saddle should work and his experiences with bicycle touring. Upon retirement from his job as a plumber with the school district George decided to ride across Canada to raise money for a charity he was involved with. After completing that ride he under took many other long distance rides around Canada. All these kilometers in the saddle, while fun and exciting, were uncomfortable. He tried 17 different saddles on his journey across Canada and never found one that worked the way he wanted, including Brooks, which is the go to for most long distance riders. The idea behind the G.A.B.S. saddle was born and soon George had a patent and was even featured on CBC's "The Dragons Den"

My meeting with George resulted in the purchase of a saddle. I love home grown bike products and the simplicity. There are no gels, shocks or strange high tech materials. A firm foam cushion and a vinyl cover is all the the saddle has. The feature that makes it stand out from the competing manufactures is the lack of a horn, at least a horn that will impede the rider. Instead of the frame of the saddle running under the horn and the seating area, the G.A.B.S. has a plastic frame and the seating area is built on top of it. The only contact that ones rear end makes with the seat is right on the seat bones. Very comfortable and unimpeding. No perineal contact what so ever. If you have ever gotten numb from a bike seat, this will correct that. I can get off the bike after a long ride and walk like normal not feeling like I have been on a saddle for an hour. The parts of your legs that move do not contact any part of the saddle, making for a chafe free experience. At first the saddle will feel somewhat hard, and that is because the other saddles most are used to have so much padding to try to make them more comfortable. The problem is in the contact parts not the cushioning.

I highly suggest if you do any amount of riding to give a G.A.B.S. a try. For $75 these saddle are competitively priced with other manufactures and they are built in our town, by a local. A great product George, I hope you get many more sales and I am working to spread the word on you wonderful product. I would like to give it a shot on my mountain bike too. Find Adventure.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Adventure 27- Berry picking

Bowl of beautiful
With my focus gaining momentum on supporting local agriculture and wanting to be more self sufficient with my food supply, the local farms offering u-pick option for strawberries was a no brainer. I was chomping at the bit to get picking and fortunately for Cumberland residents, Ashberry Farm is just down the hill, on the Royston side of Boulder Hill. I had visited the farm twice over the July long weekend, the second time in the pouring rain. With rain gear on, I was able to pick around 15 pounds. What a treat for the freezer. With Natalie still camping I was not able to bring her with me.
Big grin
Natalie arrived home from a great camping trip, and I didn't have her for a night again until Thursday we had to plan our adventure carefully. Her mom requested that Natalie join her for the next weekend at a family gathering, so our Sunday would be a no go. Thursday it would be. I phoned Ashberry for permission to come and pick after hours as it was my only chance to bring her with me. I picked up Natalie from Hanna's house, where she spent the day. I asked Hanna and her older sister Olivia if they wanted to join. Of course they said "Sure!"

The day was brilliant, hot sun, not a cloud to be seen. The berry picking was sure to be great. Russ had gone earlier in the day and picked his buckets in about 5 minutes. Wow. Soon our empty pails were weighed and our patch was picked for us. Trying to keep three children picking and not skipping over the ripe berries was a challenge in itself. Olivia was on the ball, and had her ice cream bucket full in no time and offered to help fill Natalie's. The eight year olds were more random, not wanting to follow the "rules". The rules are really simple. Pick all the ripe ones and if you find bug eaten berries it is asked that you pluck off the bush and toss them aside. Pretty easy. And stay in your section. It only makes sense. The farmer wants to control where the picking has been based on ripeness and amount of berries. They don't make any money if a row sits full of ripe berries and no one picks. Neither do they want a customer to be un-happy with rows with no fruit

While we picked I asked the kids if they knew what organic meant. Olivia had it pretty much spot on, Natalie was close. Hanna was out of range, picking at the top of the row. I stress how important it is to involve the next generation in our food system. They need to see where it comes from, not from a box or bag. They need to understand that things can be grown with-out chemical inputs. Weeds and crops can grow in unison. The strawberries at Ashberry have chick weed and various grasses growing through out the plants. It is very natural and we were encouraged to move the plants about to look for the bright red berries. Often the farms ducks will wander around the crop, eating bugs and slugs. That is organic pest control at it's finest.
My crew
It was a bit of a tough time for Natalie. She started getting itchy from the grass and the plants. Her eyes were itching also, and sneezing. That poor kid got my allergy problem. I was feeling the effects of the hay fever that has plagued me for several weeks. Such is life. I tried to encourage her to ignore the symptoms, but that is hard for a child. It is hard for me! Hanna and Olivia helped her and soon we had our containers full. To the weigh station. We picked $80 worth of berries in around an hour. What a haul. A couple of photos and away we went.
The haul
Natalie and I arrived home and spent time to pluck the green tops from the berries and bagged them for the freezer. Sitting at the table, listening to the radio and talking. What a wonderful time with my girl. She was practicing using a paring knife. She had her hands on our food. She asked if we were going to vacuum pack them, because she was my helper when I processed a big lot of salmon earlier in the spring. I am excited to teach her about canning, butchery, lacto-fermenting, and involve her in shopping locally. She will join me on a couple of deer hunts this fall. By the time she is ready to leave me for the real world, an appreciation of our food and the people who produce it will be part of her DNA. Find Adventure and Keep it local.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Adventure 26- Trout fishing

Pink fisher girl
Natalie was invited to join our friends for the July long weekend to spend four days at Lower Campbell lake. Her best pal Hanna was going to be there with her family. She was pretty excited. She left on Thursday night with them and I had the weekend to myself. What Natalie didn't know was that I planned to travel north and meet the friends at the lake and spend a night. Surprise.
All smiles
Work was pretty slow this past week so I was fortunate to leave at noon of Friday. A couple of quick stops in town and I was able to leave. I had not been car camping in quite sometime. In the past couple of years it had been either hike in or bike camping. This was kind of a nice change of pace. I packed her little pink, 3 foot spinning rod in the car, along with mine and my big pack full of camping gear. As I rolled into Campbell River I stopped at the Riversportsman to buy Natalie a couple of lures and a small tackle box for her to pack around. The campsite is approximately 28 kilometers from the store and I was soon up General Hill and on the gravel. I was originally hoping that if I had Friday off of work I would have gone by bike. Getting a late start with iffy weather basically made the call for me. I think it was the right one. Rolling into camp at 8 pm would have been tough.
Mid cast
Natalie was not too sure about me when I got there. I think she was shocked, not as excited as was anticipated. She was probably hoping for independence from her parents, but tough luck. I gave her the tackle and rod. That lit her face like a beautiful light bulb. "Can we go fishing dad?" was the first thing out of her mouth. Down the trail we went with Hanna and Hanna's parents. I was head coach, leaving my rod in the car for this night. It was Natalie time. She picked up on casting right away (I cautiously crimped her barbs just in case of an accident) and was soon tossing the lure with pinpoint accuracy. She wanted a fish so bad. After a while she could see little sculpins darting about, chasing her rainbow spoon. And she accidentally foul hooked one in the belly! I got it off easy and her and Hanna each had a chance to look at it and hold it before we released it back into the lake.
They kept asking me if you can eat bullheads...
It was time for dinner so back to the site. As I was cooking my home made dehydrated soup, Natalie came running. "Dad I found a crawdad, on the beach!" I asked the kids to go catch it so I could cook it. Never tried it before, so what the heck. They brought it back and into the boiling pot it went. After several minutes its shell was a bright orangey, red. Just like a Dungeness crab. I peeled the tail and let the three hunters share it, and I tasted the claw meat. Not much on the critter. It was delicate meat. Almost exactly like crab or prawn. Shockingly tasty. I must create a trap for next time we visit the lake.
The next morning Natalie managed to snag three lures on the stumps of the lake. Lower Campbell is part of the impoundment that is for the John Hart generating station run by B.C. Hydro. It is a very large lake, and combined with John Hart, Upper Campbell and Buttle lake, comprise of the largest impounded lake system on Vancouver Island. The lakes are all huge and deep, but the shoreline and shoal areas are littered with stumps, deadheads and still standing submerged trees from 60 years ago when the surrounding forest was flooded. A wonderful place to loose tackle. Her and Hanna got their bathing suits on and retrieved all the lost tackle. That was really cool. In the end she did end up getting badly snagged on a stump and one lure stayed in the lake, but not bad for her first time fishing in years. I was very proud of her for wanting to keep practicing and having lots of fun, and the attention span. If only we had a boat.
Fishing on a rocky point.
We have made it to the halfway point of the adventures. It has been a lot of fun. To have dedicated time to spend with each other week in and week out is a blessing. This year will be something that her and I will remember forever. Thank you all for following along and cheering for us as we go. I am looking ahead for the next 26 and it should be lots more fun. Summer is just starting! Find Adventure.

Comox Valley $100 dollar challenge

So many great ideas start with being inspired from another source. My friend Russ listened to the Edible Valley podcast the other day, where we interviewed Megan and Chris from Halstead Farm. His mind began to envision a manifest on how to keep more of our dollars in the local economy. He has come up with one and I fully support it and have agreed to help out with this initiative.

His plan is quite simple. If 1000 Comox Valley residents can re-direct $100 a month from their grocery bill and spend it on locally produced foods, over a year we can shift 1.2 million dollars away from the big box groceries into our hard working farmers pockets. In an era of ever shrinking small farm producers, with the emphasis on enormous mono-culture agriculture with un-sustainable levels of fossil fuel inputs, WE have to fix this. These small mom and pop farms grow food that is not only more nutritional, it tastes better and is healthier for our souls. My conscious is free knowing an animal was raised with the best animal husbandry and being offered what it was supposed to be eating.

It is a sad fact that the average meal for a North America family has traveled 1500 miles or more. In Canada that number is probably exceeded. When we ship most foods we are essentially shipping water. Fruits, vegetables and meats all contain a high percentage of H2O. Of course water is heavy, one liter weighs a kilogram, so the fuel used to ship this water around is astronomical. The areas with the highest concentrations of agriculture also tend to be the areas with low levels of rainfall, so the water is drawn from deep aquifers. Fossil water that has been stored for millenia, akin to pulling oil from the ground. These aquifers are being pumped at ever increasing rates and will eventually run dry. FOREVER. Shipping water from the drier areas upsets the natural balance even more, resulting in even less rain fall and more drought. This is a vicious cycle that will collapse.

We are blessed in the Comox Valley with vast quantities of natural, shallow water because of the rainfall that we get for a good part of the year. Crops are watered with renewable sources. Our climate allows for winter crops. We have plenty of fresh air and land for farms. Our farmers market hosts wonderful, dedicated and hard working folks that want to share the results. We have everything for basic survival grown within our borders. Let us get back to that, like our ancestors did only a generation ago. With the $100 dollar challenge this can kick start conversation and show people that this is doable. We can vote with our dollars and get the movement growing, getting stronger and stronger. In future posts on here and the "$100 dollar challenge" Facebook page I will be giving tips and suggestions on how to do this. Shopping locally really isn't hard. Lets leave the faceless corporations in the dust. Keep you dollars in the Comox Valley.

Please share this with your friends. Social media is the most powerful tool we have to invoke change. Explain what the $100 dollar challenge is. Russ is hoping to have 1000 people ready to start on August first. We want to have feed back from the participants so we can get a number on the amount of dollars spent on local foods. By next August hopefully his goal is met, and with luck it will be much greater than that. Thanks you for reading and considering this challenge.