Friday, February 10, 2017

Country Auction

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved.

Driving down almost any rural lane it's not uncommon to come across a sudden gathering of pickup trucks parked this way and that along the shoulders. Unless there's smoke rising from some burning barn, chances are there's an auction in progress.

Step outside and, sure enough, there's a cry of "Eight-five, five, five. I have eighty-five. Ninety, give me ninety," wafting across a fallow field.

Move up closer and you'll find old plows and roller harrows and cultipackers lined up on display along with cardboard boxes filled with bolts, drill bits and other assorted items. A crowd of bidders follows the auctioneer up and down rows of tractors and corrugators and shop tools, hovering over each item just long enough to determine whose bid will buy it and then moving on.

Continued at... Country Auction

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Farm Supply
Artwork: Country Auction by Ken Zylla

Monday, February 6, 2017

Beware of Bambi

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved.

More people perish in the U.S. from close encounters with deer each year than with bears and sharks and snakes combined (bees are the next most deadly creature). Many of these deaths are the result of collisions on roadways, but deer are also killing people with their hooves and antlers.

The most dangerous deer, according to biologists, are bucks which have become used to people and are no longer afraid of them.

Population growth, both in deer and humans, has a lot to do with a number of these attacks, but they are not a new development. Roger Caras, in his 1964 book "Dangerous to Man," reports that the excessively shy deer can also be formidable and attacks on people are not uncommon.

Continued at... Beware of Bambi

Rural Delivery
The Nature Pages
Artwork: Trophy Buck Deer With Big Rack

Friday, January 20, 2017

In The Quiet

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved.

Out here in the country things are different. There is still room for silence. Step away from the TV and the radio and the cell phone, and you often find something rarely found in the city: stillness. Rural places have their share of noise, to be sure. A combine in a field or a hungry herd in the feedlot produces plenty of decibels. Neighbors can be heard revving engines or pounding nails or taking target practice from miles away. And the passing freight trains wail at every crossing up and down the valley.

But these are singular sounds, like simple sentences on a page with lots of white space around them, and they aren't heard all the time, night and day.

Continued at... In The Quiet

Rural Delivery
The Nature Pages
Artwork: The Road To The Farm Saint-Simeon In Winter, 1867 by Claude Monet

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Incidents in a Small Town

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved.

Living in a small town, you share a sense of common destiny with your neighbors. When tragedy strikes, the whole community trembles.

Our town has been shaken twice in recent weeks. The police chief, a popular and respected man with a young family, died in a freak highway accident when a delivery truck swerved into his lane and hit him head-on with its load.

Barely two weeks later a single mother and her four small children were murdered in their home and a local sharecropper, known to be a friend of theirs, was found dead in his pickup from a gunshot wound to his head. Investigators suspect a murder-suicide, but they are still trying to find a motive.

Continued at... Incidents in a Small Town

Rural Delivery
Second Nature
Artwork: The Mill in Winter by Dwight Baird

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Mouse in the House

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1996. All rights reserved.

Among the most common sounds of autumn in the country, along with rustling leaves and crackling fires, is the scratching and scurrying that can be heard inside walls and rafters of almost every rural dwelling.

These are the sounds of the house mouse, mus musculus, one of the least welcome of guests and most difficult to dissuade. This uninvited visitor will eat, or chew on, almost anything and defecate everywhere. He contaminates food, causes damage to structures and property, and  carries dangerous diseases.

Introduced by 16th century pilgrims in the holds of their Atlantic-crossing ships, house mice followed the progress of Europeans in the New World, traveling in wagons and rucksacks and saddlebags and trains and trucks and planes across the continent and back, occupying pantries from Maine to Malibu.

Continued at... A Mouse in the House

Rural Delivery
The Nature Pages
Pest Control
Artwork: House Mouse

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Stories We Tell

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1996. All rights reserved.

This is how we make sense of the day-to-day chaos in our lives. We tell stories to explain the decisions we made and the actions we took. We construct elaborate justifications for the wrong turns and credit foresight and planning for our lucky breaks.

We rarely, if ever, admit to following whims or being blinded by emotions. We assume that we are rational beings who act freely after calculating the pros and cons of a situation. That's the spin we put on our life stories.

But we are not so rational as we like to think.

Continued at... The Stories We Tell

Rural Delivery
Second Nature
The Nature Pages
Artwork: Rational Chaos by Philippe Sainte-Laudy

Thursday, July 7, 2016

To Market, To Market

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1996. All rights reserved.

To my way of thinking, urban life's only advantage over country living is the farmers market.

Sure, there are farmer's markets in smaller communities offering an abundance of local produce. And there's nothing quite like a roadside fruit stand for fresh-picked peaches, cukes or corn.

But you could take the same produce, the same catch of fish, and the same baked goods on a smaller scale and never be able to recreate the ambience of a Pike Place, the color and fragrance of a French Market, or the teeming symphony of a New York City greenmarket. It's like the difference between the minor leagues and the majors: nothing compares to The Show.

Continued at... To Market, To Market

Rural Delivery
Open Air Farmers Markets
Farmers Market Supply