Friday, September 1, 2017

New Neighbors



by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2007. All rights reserved.

All across the country, in rural places from Maine to Mendocino, there are terrible conflicts raging between folks who have lived in these places all their lives and newcomers who want to change them to better meet their expectations.

Some novice ruralites want to look at cows grazing in a pasture without having to smell them. Others expect farms to operate without machinery and harvesting to occur on bankers' hours. And a few even want to recreate our small town business districts with boutiques and tourist attractions.

Continued at... New Neighbors

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Where Oliver Found His Place
Artwork: New Neighbors


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Where Did Dogs Come From?


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2002. All rights reserved.

Dogs haven't always been around. Part of the Canidae family that includes wolves and coyotes and jackals, domesticated dogs are rather new to this planet and what they've accomplished since teaming up with humans is miraculous.

In the space of just a few thousand years, dogs have changed their shape and behaviors to fit into almost every known human environment and endeavor, from Huskies pulling sleds in the Arctic to Border Collies herding sheep in Scotland and Pekinese warming laps in midtown Manhattan.

And yet, at the molecular level not much has changed since dogs branched off from the family of wolves. The DNA makeup of wolves and dogs is almost identical.

Continued at... Where Did Dogs Come From?

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Animal Husbandry
Artwork: Wolf Pups


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Some Summer Days


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

There are days in summer that are dry as a bone and blistering hot. There are days when the sun burns and the wind peels and lightning starts wildfires that race out of control. Summer skies can be brown with soot and thick with allergens, or they can be broiling with a violence that strips and drowns and washes away.

But there are other summer days, such as today, that open like the bloom of a colorful flower. Scented with the sweet fragrance of fresh-cut alfalfa, they arrive with a kiss of dew and the enveloping warmth of dawn.

There are summer days sweet as a crisp apple that beckon bite after bite down to a core of contentment. Their still mornings lie across the countryside like a Maxfield Parrish painting, lustrous and idyllic.

Continued at... Some Summer Days

Rural Delivery
Outgoing
The Nature Pages
Artwork: A Summer's Day by Alfred Sisley


Monday, July 31, 2017

The Dog Days of Summer


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

These are the dog days of summer, a time of year when creeks run dry, the air stands still and the sun beats down relentlessly, day after day, or so it seems.

These are the days when we rediscover shade, pools, and the contents of our freezers. Cooling off becomes an obsession.

Over-heated hounds do lounge beneath porches and trees on hot afternoons, but it is not for them that "dog days" were named. Instead, this parching period pertains to Sirius, the "Dog Star," which rises and sets with the sun from mid-July until September. Sirius is also called "The Scorching One." Its lurid presence on the horizon evokes desperate memories of withered crops, raging wildfires and infernal droughts.

Continued at... The Dog Days of Summer

Out There
The Nature Pages
Artwork: Dog Days of Summer Garden Flag


Friday, July 21, 2017

The Northern Spy and Other Edible Antiques

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

A Rhode Island Greening is about as common in the contemporary American kitchen as a butter churn. It's as likely to be used as a woodburning cookstove or an icebox. Few of them have ever been microwaved.

The Northern Spy, once a standby at neighborhood grocers, is rarely seen in today's supermarkets. It's gone the way of the horse-drawn carriage and the stagecoach. Just try to find one.

The Greening and the Spy are both apples, two of the finest-tasting varieties ever to touch the American palate. But today they are "antiques," each more than a century old.

Continued at... The Northern Spy and Other Edible Antiques

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Apples
Artwork: Northern Spy


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Where Oliver Found His Place


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

This is the 1960s, and a wife's place is at her husband's side, as Oliver testifies:

You are my wife!"

Lisa had forgotten about the Hungarian Parliament's "Big Dumb Law of 1924," which stated: "All Hungarian women have to do whatever their husbands want them to do, no matter how dumb it is."

Goodbye city life.

And so the Haney Place becomes the Douglas Farm -- with all its clutter, fallow fields, and telephones mounted atop telephone poles -- for six television seasons. Oliver struggles gamely to make his farm a success while Lisa brings some graciousness and finer things of life to their rural experience. They stand side by side, in a parody of American Gothic, and declare:

Green Acres, we are there!

Continued at... Where Oliver Found His Place

See the Movie, Read the Book
Farm Supply
Artwork: Green Acres Poster

Monday, July 10, 2017

Flown The Coop

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

Nowadays, I'm hard-pressed to find a chicken coop. We have no chickens. None of our neighbors keep chickens. There are chickens around and eggs for sale someplace nearby, I'm sure, but I couldn't give directions.

We've talked about raising chickens. Every spring, as the slugs rise to gnaw on the strawberries, my wife says, "We ought to have chickens." Free-ranging hens are an effective deterrent to slugs, grasshoppers and many other insect pests. They'll also keep down the weeds and add nutrients to your soil if you manage them carefully.

Every time I trim the fat off a fleshy store-bought chicken I'm preparing for the grill, I tell myself, "We ought to raise our own chickens."

Chickens convert feed to meat efficiently. Most broilers will gain a pound of weight for every two-and-a-half pounds of feed. If a bird is allowed to free-range, not only will it be less fatty, but nearly half of its feed will come from foraging grubs, weeds and worms.

Continued at... Flown The Coop

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Husbandry
Artwork: Chicken Coop at Eugene O'Neill House in Contra Costa County, California