Tag Archives: history

The Comfrey Mocks Me

ImageThis morning I went out to the garden, coffee in hand, and was reminded for the umpteenth time that we really need to hack back the comfrey and throw it in the compost before it smothers the strawberry patch. It’s even turned up in the front yard and along the driveway fence; whether seed blew over or it tunneled underneath isn’t clear. Incredulous as it sounds, the latter wouldn’t surprise me. But instead of grabbing the shears, I went back inside…again. Don’t get me wrong, comfrey is a wonderfully important plant if you’re trying to recycle nutrients in your garden, but calling it an ambitious is putting it mildly. Only the raspberries and the mint are comparable opportunists.

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The comfrey somewhere it shouldn’t be.

So it seems fitting that later this morning I stumbled across an article on prickly comfrey in an 1875 issue of Canada Farmer, chiding me for my laziness. We have the regular comfrey, rather than the prickly sort they describe (thank goodness), but their wisdom still holds:

“The advantages which are claimed for it over other plants are these:–It affords a cutting earlier, and lasts longer than almost any other. If cultivated upon a good deep soil, it will yield a heavier crop than any other plant; and, when once planted, it will last for ever.

It sure does.

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Filed under Dans Ontario, History, On Agriculture & the Environment

When Farmers Don’t Co-operate (Dairy Style)

DSC_1331Hello, world!  I’m working on some lengthier posts, but in the meantime I’d like to share with you something I found in the archives yesterday that made me smile.

The context: I’m working on a couple chapters for my dissertation that focus on the idea of a ‘landscape of co-operation’ in the 19th century dairying countryside and all the ways in which that rational, scientific, spatial, and social ‘plan’ was thwarted by local networks, bad roads, grumpy cows, farmers shopping around for the best deal for their milk, and so on. Continue reading

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Filed under Academia, Dans Ontario, On Agriculture & the Environment, On Human Connections

Brief Thoughts on Five Days in Boston

DSC_0125For a historian, a trip to Boston is pretty cool.*  I did a little bit of work while I was there, followed by a lot of walking, a lot of eating, a lot of drinking local beer, a lot of reading small plaques on old buildings that celebrate (mostly) rich white dudes who did stuff (and usually not in the best interests of other non-rich, non-white, non-male people), and admiring those buildings even though it made me feel a little guilty.  We–my boyfriend and I–did a lot of chatting, too, which reached the level of slightly inebriated, semi-philosophical debate about History at McGreevy’s Bar in Back Bay.
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Filed under Academia, History, Travel

Doing Away with Double Blind

Warning: academic rant.

Having taken a solid month six weeks seven weeks off after comps to ‘unwind’ (i.e. do everything I put off for 8 months), I’ve returned to my academic work.  One of my fall projects is to revise and submit for publication two papers I’ve been working on for a while.

Once submitted to academic journals, both of these papers will undergo a process known as peer review, which means that they will be judged by a couple of readers (experts in one’s field) who suggest to the journal whether or not they think the article should ultimately be published. In general this process is  double-blind, meaning I will not know who reviewed it, nor will the readers know whose work they are reviewing. Continue reading

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Filed under Academia, History, On Human Connections, Politicking

A ‘Stampede’ of Cows and Thoughts that Tumble, Stumble

I don’t know if I can express to you just how apropos it was to see this video pop up as the latest post on City Farmer News, which is currently set as my browser homepage.  I was procrastinating checking my email, you see, between paragraphs of the paper I’m writing as part of my comprehensive exam requirements.  It’s meant to be an exhaustive rigorous literature search on a particular topic that is relevant to one’s currently-ephemeral dissertation.  I’m writing on animals.   Continue reading

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Filed under Academia, History, On Agriculture & the Environment, On Human Connections

So what you’re saying is, you study the history of…cheese…?

I often struggle to explain what it is I study.  Most terms don’t capture it adequately, it being something rather interdisciplinary, thematic, and transnational.  Cheese, I tell people, if I want to get a smirk out of them.  Labour, agriculture, and the natural world, if I want to be a little more accurate.  The industrialization of the Ontario dairy industry, if I want to sound obnoxious.  Capitalism and the exploitation of nature and people, if I want to sound incendiary. Continue reading

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Filed under Academia, History, On Agriculture & the Environment

This is what I do to procrastinate (part 1)….

Work continues on the biotech article, and as is usually the case with research, the more I learn, the more I realize the people and their stories descend into a twisted myriad of connections I can’t possibly hope to capture in systematically-ordered prose.  So instead of writing my article I am thinking about theories of historical change.  Is change dialectical in nature, meaning when an initial state (whether it be abstract, as Hegel suggested, or a particular mode of production, as did Marx) is met with an alternative, their inconsistencies force a new synthesis, a new state of being?  Perhaps, but right now it seems too simplistic and, especially in the case of biotechnology, ignores the role of non-human nature.

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Filed under History, Life in Vietnam, On Agriculture & the Environment, Politicking

On account of the weather

It rained.  It rained and rained and my eyes stung and it felt a bit like crying because the tears were there against my will and made me think I should feel melancholy, but I don’t.  Or maybe I do and nature’s response was appropriate.  I pulled over a few yards past the local Indian restaurant when I could no longer see and decided to get some vindaloo.  “Look at that rain.  Do you live here?” asked the woman at the table across from me, as she twisted in her chair to look out the wide open windows.  And thus began my evening with Meg.

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Filed under Academia, Life in Vietnam, On Human Connections, Politicking