Sunday, April 15, 2018

View from the Trees


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved.

We're only about ten feet up off the ground, but the distance feels tenfold greater as I gaze out over rooftops and across the brush to fields and houses beyond. Here we are uplifted, held aloft by strong limbs, and separated from standard time.

Here we are eye-to-eye with the birds, as far removed from ground-level reality as an eagle in its aerie. Shrouded in leafage, we can peer out at passersby who never seem lift their heads above the horizontal plane; to them we are invisible.

Almost every kid who grows up in the country knows what it's like to climb trees. And nearly everyone who has ever climbed a tree has built a treehouse... or dreamed of one.

Continued at... View from the Trees

Rural Delivery
Treehouses of the World
Here's How To... Build a Treehouse
Artwork: Treehouse


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Rural Economics

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

Here it goes again, that compulsion to count and figure and cut and scrimp. Like some actuary, I'm compelled to calculate the costs and consequences of every action and exchange.
   
Air-drying laundry on a clothesline saves nearly 50 cents a load.
   
Add two weeks between those monthly haircuts and save at least $60 a year.

Buy heating oil in midsummer and save another $50 or more.

April is a month for adding up; the government makes it so. After laboring over investment tax credits and itemized deductions and capital loss carryforwards a person's perceptions change. I'm consumed with frugality, obsessed with prudence.

Continued at... Rural Economics

Holidays and Notable Events
How To Do It Books
Artwork: Laundry on a Clothesline


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Winter Visitors


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1994. All rights reserved.

Among the most common sounds of winter 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.

Grayish brown with a naked scaly tail, the pointy-snouted house mouse puts down 50 droppings a day, on average, and gives off 300 squirts of urine in between. Messy, ugly, and presumptuous, this uninvited guest inspires desperate measures.

Continued at... Winter Visitors.

The Nature Pages
Pest Control
Artwork: House Mouse - Mus Musculus

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Dark of Winter


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2006. All rights reserved.

In the dark days that follow the winter solstice, the last of December through the middle of January, I anxiously track the growth of daylight for reassurance that the tide has indeed turned and that winter will eventually give way to the brightening of early spring.

At this latitude of approximately 45 degrees, daylight grows ever so slowly at first, just a minute more each day until the middle of January, when it starts to grow by twos and then by threes at the month's end.

What I always find curious, and faintly disturbing, is that the day does not grow evenly. The sun sets a minute later each day for the week following the solstice, but it rises the same time day after day.

How could this be?

Continued at... Dark of Winter.

Rural Delivery
Out There
Outrider Books and Travel
Artwork: Dark of Winter.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

If It's Thursday Night, It's Bullseyes.


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

On Thursday nights in late winter the three taverns facing the railroad tracks in Shoshone, Idaho, are comfortably warm and inviting. Inside any of the establishments customers will be lined up at the bar and scattered among dimly lit tables. Reba will be wailing from the juke box and a crowd will have gathered around the electronic dart machine at one end of the room. 
"Pock!" goes a soft-tipped dart into the board and instantly the machine tallies its score. Then another player toes the foul line.

This sparsely populated niche of southern Idaho is a long way from England, where throwing darts at a circular, numbered board is a passionate pasttime. But out of every eighty-five residents in the all-rural Lincoln County at least one is a competitive dart-thrower.

Continued at... If It's Thursday Night, It's Bullseyes.

Rural Delivery
Games and Puzzles
Sports and Fitness
Artwork: James Cagney On Martha'S Vinyard Playing Darts.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Carol's Tale


Most songs don't keep. People sing them for a few years, then lose interest. New tunes replace the old in a continuous cycle and yesterday's lyrics are soon forgotten.
 
Even Christmas carols, the most traditional sounds in American music, have fairly shallow roots. The most popular Christmas song to date, "White Christmas," was composed by Irving Berlin in 1942. "Do You Hear What I Hear?" only dates back to 1962 and "Away in a Manger" is just over a century old.
 
Hardly anyone sings old Christmas classics like "La Bonna Novella" and "Nowell" any more. Both were big European hits in the 16th and 17th centuries. So was the German carol "Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen" ("Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming.")
 
Like a well-worn pair of boots left on the back porch, old songs lie forgotten until they lose their usefulness. Then they don't seem to fit any occasion.

Continued at... A Carol's Tale

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2007. All rights reserved.
Out of the Past
Holidays and Notable Events
Artwork: Church Choir Singing by Mary Evans

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Rare Breeds.


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1997. All rights reserved.

Farm animals are in decline worldwide. Out of approximately 4,000 breeds of domesticated animals, 1,000 breeds are seriously threatened with extinction. Every week another breed of workhorse, cattle, pig or variety of sheep or poultry follows the passenger pigeon, the blue pike and the wooly mammoth into oblivion.

In hard numbers, there's no shortage of livestock. More domesticated animals are being farmed in less space and with greater returns of meat, milk, eggs and wool than at any time in history. But the number of breeds of domesticated animals is much smaller than it was a century ago. The genetic diversity of farm animals is shrinking, and with it the ability to adapt to new climates, new diseases and new markets.

Continued at... Rare Breeds

Rural Delivery
Animal Husbandry
Husbandry
Farm Supply
Artwork: Dexter Cow.