October 11th 2019.
I ended my day bottling elecampane tincture (good for all chest complaints) today and it always makes me think of the Acadiens who brought this monsterously huge plant here.
In 30 short years the Acadiens in Nova Scotia pushed back the strongest tides in the world with a system of dykes and aboiteaus to claim the land from tidal salt marshes and they also created a cultural identity that persists today despite forced relocation. I've spent much of the past 12 years living below the high water mark (which continues to climb higher still and still the dykes are holding)
I've been fascinated by the Acadiens since we moved here twelve years ago. We live in an old (1755) Acadien farmhouse and I paid a lot of attention to their farming practices when we started homesteading here (we only had two acres in the beginning. Even now we only have seven).
The French and English thought of the Acadiens as lazy because they didn't cut down the forests in the uplands and start their farms there. The truth is that they tried quite hard to avoid setting cropland aside to feed animals. Instead, they cultivated natural meadows and took full advantage of the plants that grew on the marshes even after they'd cleared the meadows of salt (which took only 2 to 4 years) They fed their cattle (milk and beasts of burden) wild grasses - salt hay over the winter in a time when most settlements all along the eastern seaboard had to slaughter all their animals every fall because overwintering them was too hard.
By working with the land and recognizing the true value of their livestock they were a largely self sufficient community. They kept free range pigs for meat and sheep for wool and meat. They grew gardens and heaped that same straw on them over the winter so that they could continue to harvest cold weather crops well into the winter. They supplemented this with some hunting and fishing (not much from the archeological records). Their strength was in their sense of community (and that persists today).
I'm thinking of the idealistic vegan homesteaders I met today. I hope they can reconcile their need for food with where they've chosen to live. I really want to support the homesteaders and squatting terraformers we've seen moving into the towns that have been largely abandoned further north in Cape Breton. I hope they're willing to learn as much from the past as they are from looking to the future with an idealistic gleam in their eyes.
Signing out from the land of Evangeline...