Tag: guest post

The Power of Smell.

Credit Ben FrantzDale – CC-BY-SA

Guest Post

From time to time I will be publishing posts from guest authors whose writings I think will interest people. Of course, all opinions and assertions in these posts belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily agree with mine. Please direct your praise and criticism to the author. — rjb

Today’s guest author is Laird Smith

Note: See my posts on smell, parts one, two and three.

Laird Smith

Apr 9, 2018, 8:48 PM

Lately we all have had enough of tragedy. The South Okanagan with its loss of Greg Norton and hockey with its loss of fifteen players and associates of the Humboldt Broncos.

I’m going to veer off into some self deprecating humor. As many of you know, I was born with a defect, a hormone deficiency which wasn’t discovered until I was in my early thirties. My medication treatment started with pills for four years, which gradually ceased their effectiveness, then shots for thirteen years, which created a lot of scar tissue in the injection site, then finally a cream to apply to my skin.

The cream was prescribed because it didn’t have to go through my liver like the shot serum had to. The cream was made up in the lab at the pharmacy. The pharmacist informed me that the skin didn’t absorb the cream easily so he would put a certain chemical in it for better absorbency. He went on to tell me that the chemical would cause my body to smell like garlic as the drug was being absorbed. I nodded in understanding and forgot about the matter.

Three years later I found myself working in an oil field truckers’ camp in Rainbow Lake, Alberta. My position was called Night Man, which meant that I worked from 6 pm to 6 am, and then slept all day. I kept an eye on the camp while the workers slept. I washed towels for the Camp Attendant, and I cleaned up the kitchen from the supper hour. I did that shift for fourteen days straight then went home for a week.

The medical plan of the trucking company had great coverage for my prescriptions. I switched my drug store manufactured cream to a commercially manufactured gel. The cream came in a big, clumsy, plastic jar while the gel came in individual sachets which were easier to administer.

I started the gel the day after finishing the cream. I walked into the kitchen at 4 pm to say hi to Shirley the cook. She looked at me and said, “You smell differently!” I thought for a moment, and said, “I’ve changed medications!” She said, “Oh, I thought you never bathed!” I replied, “Why didn’t you say something?” Her response, “I didn’t know how to word it.” She put up with that misunderstanding for three months, what a trooper!
I got an “aha” moment when I realized that it was the garlic smell from the cream medication that led her to assume I wasn’t bathing.

That reminds me of another time, many years ago, when I was a cook’s helper in Houston BC at a sawmill camp run by Northwood Pulp and Timber. One morning while I was preparing for lunch, the Millwright, who had worked all night, came in for his meal. I was cutting garlic close to the serving line when he asked me what I was doing. I told him and he asked for a garlic clove. Just for a joke I gave him the whole garlic corn and he took it. By the time I went back to get the corn from him he had eaten the whole thing! I was not amused but I took it in stride and went back to work.

When I got off shift at 5 pm and went into the bunkhouse, it absolutely reeked! Even my room stunk and I had the door closed and locked. The smell lingered for a week! Every pore in the Millwright exuded garlic stink, nauseateing us all. After three days the garlic had gone through the man but it took another four days to get the garlic air out the bunkhouse.

I’ve tried to avoid the overuse of garlic in my diet, but several times have failed to notice how much I’ve consumed. The smell always persisted much longer than I’d realized.
I think you would have to be nose blind to be a dentist or a doctor. I’m glad I’ve not been either considering the stink I’ve made others put up with.

Laird Smith

Combating the Elements

Credit Ben FrantzDale – CC-BY-SA


Guest Post

From time to time I will be publishing posts from guest authors whose writings I think will interest people. Of course, all opinions and assertions in these posts belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily agree with mine. Please direct your praise and criticism to the author. — rjb

Today’s guest author is Laird Smith

Laird Smith

Just a quick mention about the GMO issue. The discussion is not likely to go away any time soon.

I came across an interesting web site which had a debate on GMO’s. During the debate I came to the understanding that the foundation of GMO’s argument is based on feeding the world and reducing pesticide and herbicide use. Who can argue with that? One hundred thirty countries have signed on to use GMO grown food. In the coming years we will know its impact, negative, positive or no change.

Combating the Elements

The coming spring is the time when tree fruit blossoms of soft fruits are most at risk from frost. On Wally’s farm, he planted the peaches on the highest part of the farm which was the ridge. He then planted pears on the west side of the ridge and cherries on the east side.

The term commonly known as “smudge pots” was frowned upon by Wally. He said the correct usage was “fire pots” because it was the heat from the fire which protected the fragile blossoms from the frosty air and not the smudgy smoke.

Wally would place the fire pots in all three soft fruit blocks. The pots were metal containers each capable of holding two gallons ( 8 litres ) of diesel fuel. If I remember right, the pots were about 30 feet apart and placed to the side of the tractor track for easy refilling.

Wally and Auntie Kay carefully listened to the evening radio frost report. If there was a chance of frost they slept little for they checked their thermometer regularly.

When the thermometer dipped below the safe point, Wally would take the blow torch out and light all the fire pots. That was quite a task I must say!

When the frost threat was over, the flame was extinguished by placing a wooden shingle over top of each pot snuffing it out. On occasion, the pots were lighted earlier in the evening than expected. It was those nights when the pots burned all the fuel and had to be replenished before the night was over.

In the morning as the sun rose, the Valley air was laced with diesel smoke from another gallant fight with the killing frost. The work wasn’t finished though, for the pots all needed to be refilled before the grower and his wife sought the comfort of their bed to get a few winks before joining the ranks of the day workers.

Laird Smith

Irrigation for Tree Fruit

Credit Ben FrantzDale – CC-BY-SA

Guest Post

From time to time I will be publishing posts from guest authors whose writings I think will interest people. Of course, all opinions and assertions in these posts belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily agree with mine. Please direct your praise and criticism to the author. — rjb

Today’s guest author is Laird Smith

Laird Smith

Irrigation for Tree Fruit

This week I shall write about Wally Smith and his orchard irrigation.

Wally described the land he chose to buy, and I quote from his column dated December 22 1977: “…I had acquired 11 acres of what was classified as raw marginal land…” That meant wild rose bushes and poison ivy. The date of the purchase was sometime in 1934.

Wally had the good sense of purchasing land where the entire east side of the property had a creek, now named Park Rill, as its boundary. By this time “The Ditch” — a government financed concrete irrigation ditch which carried water from the Okanagan River through the central fruit growing areas in the Oliver BC district — had been built so that anyone wanting to use the river water could.

For Wally, his land was too far away from The “Ditch” and in 1934, Wally did not have the financial means to run pipe from The “Ditch” hookup to his land anyway, so he had to rely on Park Rill to provide irrigation for anything he planned to grow.

Wally built a water wheel which ran fine until the beavers objected to him interfering with their activities and plugged it up with mud and sticks. That was a constant battle ground until electricity came along and Wally installed a pump.

The actual watering of the trees involved making shallow, narrow, ditches in the ground along the tree rows. A flume carried the water from the water wheel to the earthen ditches and as the water flowed it soaked into the ground at each tree. The last tree in the row would get flooded while the others each got some. Sometimes the ditches plugged up so they had to be monitored. This was an inefficient way to equally water all the trees.

At some point Wally hooked up to buried pipes and brought the “Ditch” water to his property. I remember the metal flume running along the ridge, which was the highest part of the land. The end of the flume was blocked off forcing the water to back up to be released out of the flow holes. The flow holes spilled the water into the earthen ditches and down along the trees.

I know Wally was not happy with the job the earthen ditches did because as soon as he could he installed pump houses and sprinkler pipes. We had one pump house utilizing The “Ditch” water and two pump houses utilizing the water from Park Rill.

Using sprinkler pipes meant he could run five lines at the same time on twelve hour cycles and get the whole planting of eleven acres watered once a week.

During the late sixties or early seventies, he sold all but three acres. It was on those remaining acres that he decided to install a solid set irrigation system, all underground with just the sprinkler heads on short stems of pipe showing.

That was the best he could do as far as efficiency goes, turn on a valve, turn off a valve. There was a huge reduction in labor and waste was virtually eliminated, as long as you didn’t damage the sprinkler heads.

Incidentally, when I worked in the USA during the 1990’s, some tree fruit growers in north eastern Oregon were still using ditches to water their trees. I was appalled at the time, and remember thinking that Wally had abandoned that inefficient method by the early 1950’s.

Wally spent a lot of money on improving the land, but over the years of successive owners, most of the planting has returned to raw marginal land.

Laird Smith

Hummimgbirds

Credit Ben FrantzDale – CC-BY-SA

Guest Post

From time to time I will be publishing posts from guest authors whose writings I think will interest people. Of course, all opinions and assertions in these posts belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily agree with mine. Please direct your praise and criticism to the author. — rjb

Today’s guest author is Laird Smith.

Laird Smith

Hummingbirds

Wally and Auntie Kay Smith appreciated hummingbirds. Wally pointed out a hummingbird nest in one of the apple trees with two tiny eggs in it. I was a child then and it was such a thrill to see them! We put up feeders where we could observe hummingbirds from the comfort of our house. Wally even put up a white backstop so he could photograph them at the feeder. Who doesn’t like hummingbirds? I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like the remarkable little creatures.These birds however, are in jeopardy, even though they are protected under the Migratory Bird Act.

Recently, CBC radio interviewed a man named Pepper Trail, a criminal forensic ornithologist with the US Government, who spoke of the current problems besetting our beloved humming birds. But that is part of the problem, they are too beloved! Apparently the Mayan culture once looked at the hummingbird as a love charm and that frame of mind has been resurrected with the Mexican people as well as the Spanish speaking communities throughout the United States and Canada.

People in countries south of the U.S., are paid to harvest hummingbirds by the hundreds. Border Security has intercepted packages destined for the United States of America with at least 300 dead hummingbirds in each, all neatly and individually confined, complete with a verse or poem for each hopeful lover who buys the dead hummingbird.

Yes, these dead birds are being marketed as good luck charms, just as the lucky rabbit foot has been marketed here. The companies involved in this practice are very well organized according to Mr. Trail. The question is, how do you stop a cultural practice such as this love charm operation?

There are only so many hummingbirds to go around before they become extinct along with the many different species of wild flowers that are pollinated solely by hummingbirds. Then what are the people going to do for a love charm? They will use a fake one, but by then the irreparable damage will be done.

A solution then is to flood the current market with fake, cheaper hummingbirds. When you look around at what is available for fake birds, there are many that look incredibly realistic! There are other solutions too that I don’t know of. Perhaps make another bird a popular love charm such as the Starling, and when they become extinct, there will be no tragedy abounding!

How much time is there before our hummingbirds are all gone ? Two years, five years, certainly no more than ten years. When you really think about, it is inconceivable that our hummingbirds could all die as love charms by an uneducated humanity!

My hope is that the powers that be, financial powers in particular, will take notice of a potential love charm market available in fake hummingbirds for the Spanish speaking communities throughout North America; thereby preserving the lives of hundreds of real, live hummingbirds.

Just a note of clarification. There are readers who will take this article all wrong by thinking I’m blaming this problem on the people of North and South America who speak Spanish. The Spanish speaking communities just happen to be the ones I know about; there may be others who are involved in this ignorant decimation of our hummingbird populations. No matter who is partaking in this, it must stop as soon as possible, to avert the inconceivable.

Laird Smith

On Volunteerism

Credit Ben FrantzDale – CC-BY-SA


Guest Post

From time to time I will be publishing posts from guest authors whose writings I think will interest people. Of course, all opinions and assertions in these posts belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily agree with mine. Please direct your praise and criticism to the author. This post makes reference to a specific community, but the overall message is more universal. — rjb

Today’s guest author is Laird Smith.

Laird Smith

On Volunteerism

Wally and Auntie Kay Smith moved to Oliver during the Dirty 30’s, built a house and stayed in it for thirty plus years before building another house 100 meters away and moving again.

There are many good things to say about staying in one place. Many residents live in Oliver who were born there, schooled there, married there, and chose to stay there and live out their lives in the same community.

Some chose to operate their parents farm or business or started a business themselves, all serving the community as best as they could. Their choice spared them the disruption of moving to a new community and starting over again. Moving is expensive, mentally, physically, emotionally, and materially. By experience I know this to be true for I have moved many times, always by choice.

There is one segment of our society that has very bad judgement, and continuously puts themselves in harms way as they go in and out of jail, which means starting over every time, everywhere they go. Of course some learn and stay out of jail, but that story is for another day.

I have written the odd time or two about my move and life in Walla Walla Washington during the 1990’s. I have also mentioned, I believe, about my involvement in the City Crime Watch organisation there. It was formed to integrate civilians with the police department to cooperatively protect the City from the criminal element which is always at large.

I would have continued my active involvement with the City Crime Watch but chose to return to Canada where we settled in Red Deer, Alberta. There I became active in a civilian advisory group working with the RCMP. After ten years I moved again, this time to Edmonton.

Now I’m connected with the Edmonton Community League Block Connectors. The Community Leagues all have Block Connectors which are a link between the local neighborhoods and the Community Leagues. These groups work together to administer the City strategies for the well being of everyone.

I have been reading in ODN about the need for volunteers in Oliver to assist the RCMP in community policing. One might say, ” hire more police, I don’t want to be involved in policing! ” Well folks, police are not being trained fast enough. Alberta alone requires 230 more RCMP just to maintain standard policing numbers.

With Alberta having that need, where does that put the rest of Canada let alone li’l old Oliver? The answer for Oliver is community policing. Citizens MUST be actively involved in volunteering with the RCMP. A recent article in ODN said, ” one 4 hour shift per month is all that is required. ” That doesn’t seem to be an expectation that is impossible to meet, is it?

Think of the goal, making the community safer by putting more eyes on the street in coordination with the federally hired officials ( RCMP ) who know the law to protect you while you volunteer. Your accompaniment will give the officials comfort in numbers.

Isn’t it time to take back the streets, the pathways, and the alleys of Oliver?

With the population of Oliver at 5000, if just 1% volunteer, that number is 50 men and women. If half a % volunteer, that number is 25 men and women which is perhaps more realistic. Surely 25 people out of 5000 can step forward and commit to 4 hours a month to help protect the community of Oliver from the criminal element which seek to undermine the vulnerable. We are all vulnerable at one time or another.

During the 1970’s, Auntie Kay Smith was active in motivating the citizens of Oliver to build an arena because of the need. Look at how the citizens responded, you have an arena meeting the needs of the people. Once again, the call is going out to the citizens of Oliver to respond to a need. Will you be willing to respond before the need reaches a crisis point?

Laird Smith

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