A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Health Canada Says Citronella Must Go..... but DEET OK

Health Canada is pulling the last of citronella-based bug sprays off the shelves by the end of December because of "the absence of adequate safety data.” The essential oil has been used as an insect repellent in Canada for decades.
The move has left scientists who advised Health Canada on the issue befuddled by the ban. So are many consumers who prefer natural bug sprays over ones with synthetic chemicals like DEET.
'It's the basis of the ban that I don't really understand'- Sam Kacew, Toxicologist
"It's the basis of the ban that I don't really understand,” says toxicologist Sam Kacew.
Insect repellents are considered pesticides so they must meet strict safety standards. In 2004, Health Canada proposed phasing out citronella-based bug sprays because of new questions about its safety.
Small manufacturers who couldn't afford to submit detailed safety data saw their lines discontinued at the end of 2012. Those who submitted what data they could and tried to challenge the ban are now to see their products phased out at the end of this year.
In 2005, Kacew sat on an independent scientific panel to review Health Canada’s position. He says the panel believed the study that led the government to question citronella’s safety was flawed, in part because it examined what happened when rodents ingested the oil. “Humans are not going to drink citronella,” he says.
The department told CBC that “the panel supported Health Canada’s approach,” but Kacew refutes that. He says the team of scientists concluded that citronella was safe as long as it didn't contain methyl eugenol, an impurity that could be a potential carcinogen. “In general, most of these citronella oils that were available for us to examine did not contain impurities, and they were regarded by us to be basically safe,” he says.
More here

Once again the small producer using time proven natural products looses to the multinational chemical companies because they cannot 'prove' their product is not harmful. Meanwhile said companies continue to churn out more pesticides that approved after very limited and less than independent testing. Wonder when the Citronella plant will become a 'noxious weed' or illegal to grow?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Emerald Ash Borer

From Bayshore News “The Emerald Ash Borer continues to migrate north, now the infestation is reported in Kincardine. Officials say they have received confirmation that the destructive bug has reached the community.
In a news release, town officials say the response plan will address the removal of infected trees on municipal land that may present a hazard to public safety or property.”

This is not the first report of EAB in Grey Bruce but does show that it is becoming more prevalant in the area. Whilst previously efforts were made to 'control' the spresd of the pest by removing all ash trees under municipal areas is has become evident that the spread CANNOT BE STOPPED and that the removal of trees is simply for safety and liability purposes. Also efforts were made when they were first found in southern Ontario to restrict the movement of firewood and lumber from infected areas to non infected areas, such restrictions still exist but in that the 'control area' now encompasses all of Ontario north to Sudbury and beyond it is not a consideration for the average landowner in Grey Bruce.

In that this insect has been a problem in many northern states for many years there is quite a bit of information available but there are NO METHODS TO CONTROL it. I have been unable to find any information as to if it effects young regrowth saplings except that “the female lays numerous eggs in bark crevices and between layers of bark” so presumably until the tree is mature enough for such crevices exist they will not lay their eggs in then. However it is noted that they will kill a tree “before it is mature enough to produce seed” so long term they could eradicate the ash tree in North America.

As a landowner with 1000s of ash trees in my bush and millions more on surrounding properties what can I do about it all? Nothing except keep my head up when working or hiking in the bush. I will be trying to select ash trees, particularly those showing signs of dieback, for firewood rather than other species and leaving the Maple, Cherry and other unaffected trees to fill in but given the amount of ash regrowth it will be beyond my lifetime before it makes any significant impact in my bush.

All that said here is a little information from various sites giving details on the Emerald Ash Borer:-
The adult emerald ash borer emerges May - July and the female lays numerous eggs in bark crevices and between layers of bark.
The eggs hatch in 7-10 days into larvae which bore into the tree where they chew the inner bark and phloem creating winding galleries as they feed. This cuts off the flow of water and nutrients in the tree, thereby causing the tree's dieback and death.

Signs & Symptoms of EAB
The most visible sign of infestation is crown dieback. Branches at the top of the crown will die and more branches will die in subsequent years. As the tree declines, ‘suckers’, or new young branches, will sprout from the base of the tree and on the trunk.
The bark may also split vertically and woodpeckers may feed on the beetle leaving visible damage on the bark. Successful treatments with insecticides are limited but continue to be studied. All ash trees near any new infestation will most likely become infested and die.
Adult beetles emerging from trees will leave a unique “D” shaped exit hole. This is a small 1/8 inch diameter distinctly “D” shaped hole that may appear anywhere on the trunk or upper branches.
Follow this link for some good pictures of the life cycle of the EAB and some of the damage it does.

As of today, most of the areas currently regulated to control Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in Ontario and Quebec are now consolidated into one large regulated area. This will enable authorities to better protect Canada's forests by focusing on preventing EAB from spreading into new parts of Canada.
It is prohibited to move firewood of all species, as well as ash trees, ash nursery stock or ash wood (including wood chips, wood packaging or dunnage), out of this area without written permission from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). These materials could be infested and spread EAB. Moving these materials from the regulated area without permission could lead to fines and/or prosecution.

Infested ash trees become extremely porous and are at risk of breaking or falling, posing a danger to residents, adjacent buildings, vehicles and property. For landowners, businesses or municipalities who have prized ash trees, the inoculation treatment is a natural, biological compound called TreeAzin which degrades naturally in the tree tissues.
Prices for the treatment vary according to the tree size as well as outside conditions such as temperature, wind speed and the level of humidity.  Prices can vary between $100 - $500.  The process must be done between June and mid-August and must be repeated every 2 years for full effectiveness.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Goderich Eatery

You wont often see restaurant reviews here, I am much too comfortable in my country hideaway to spend much time on the road or in town however I did recently make one of my rare trips away from home. Over my working years having become totally tired of the workingman’s box lunch routine I ate at many restaurants and in that I am a vegetarian found that my choices were usually Grilled Cheese or Fried Egg sandwiches with an occasional omelet being available. Not exactly fine dining (not that I would even want to spend big $$ to wait forever for two mouthful’s of food 'presented' in a fancy manner) but a few places did provide a decent meal within these limitations.

That all said I recently did go on a field trip to accompany my family to celebrate my granddaughters birthday and comply with her wish to visit some museums, our choices being Goderich Museum, the historic Jail and the small Airport Museum depicting details of those flyers who were trained during the 2nd World War at several air bases in SW Ontario. After trampling around the first of these an exercise that involved several sets of stairs (yes there is an elevator but I just followed the younger set!) we were ready for lunch and my daughter recommended The Grill on Courthouse Square (err- its a circle!) and after several circles looking for a parking spot thats where we ended up.
I was truly impressed, the menu in particular is fantastic particularly for vegetarians, super all day breakfast menu with omelets galore and even extra choices of ingredients and a particuarly wide range of other choices. The others (non vegetarians) were well satisfied with their grub also, good choices, good food, good service & good prices (av $12 per meal for 6 of us). Prob the best choices and meals I have seen in a restaurant for years!!!

I am pleased to recommenced this establishment should you ever find yourself in Goderich, Ontario and whilst there check out the dozens of different trees planted around the Court House across the road that were planted to replace the many trees destroyed in the 2011 tornado that destroyed much of the town.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rogers Internet Craps Out

Having recently spent the better part of an hour talking to Rogers about the dismal internet speed I have been recently getting via my Rogers Hub and after much further testing on top of my own documented speed and throughput testing over the last week or so, I have decided to post the latest numbers here on my blog. I would love to send these numbers to their customer service and engineering dept but as is the norm with such services there is no email link or (so far as I can see) a way of sending them such info. I was told Sunday evening that the complaint would be 'escalated' to the engineering dept and recognize that perhaps on the long weekend that such staff were probably reduced but having gone from a measured 300k at times on Sunday to less than 100k at times on Monday I am now getting a little pissed off. To be fair I did briefly get above 1Mbs around 7am but it quickly went down the tubes as the morning went on. Its not like this is a one time problem, my connection speed goes from a high of around 1Mbs to no connection at a drop of the hat with an average connection speed of around 2-300Kbs. This naturally is heaven compared with my previous 33kbs dial up but at 3 or 4 times the cost AND a 3Mb limit before premiums kick in I expect it to WORK not crap out several times a week!

All that said here are the numbers from the Internet Speed Test at around noon Monday 4th August.

Below are a ping test and route trace to the Rogers site which seems to indicate that the problem is entirely within their network which is probably unable to deal with the weekend volume. That is not a valid excuse for these kind of numbers in my view

Click images to enlarge

And yes, I can here you city types snickering, internet connections are not the strong point for rural living, if you are lucky you can perhaps hook up to a wireless provider that does not rip you off with high prices and low speed and volume limits but many of us have two choices – Cell hookup via a hub or even more pricey satellite hookup also with speed and volume limits. When I see those ad's on TV talking of streaming video or re-watching a good documentary I can but say “I wish”, there is little doubt that internet is available to most Canadians and the network is expanding to more remote areas, but AFORDABLE high speed internet without crippling limits is another matter.

Meanwhile I'm stuck with Rogers, but at least now I can tell the 'customer service' guy to go to my blog and see the evidence of their crappy system!

Its now two weeks since my original complaint to Rogers and needless to say that 'escalated'  thing did NOTHING, no call back from 'engineering' as requested and once again this weekend we have connection speeds of less than 200k and ping values of  up to 3,000 ms at times. The satellite alternative is looking better all the time!