Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hitched to History


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2008. All rights reserved.

It hasn't been all that many years since horses were the primary mode of transportation all across the West. They not only pulled buggies and wagons, and sleighs in the winter, but they also powered the plows and cultivators that tamed an arid land.
 
Les Broadie remembered well those horse-drawn days. They were as near to him as his well-weathered hands, and as much a part of his life when I met him in 1995 as they were when he was youngster in the 1920s.

After his retirement from raising draft horses and cattle, Les operated Blizzard Mountain Carriages -- a one-man outfit specializing in buying and selling horse-drawn wagons, carriages, carts and sleighs. At the time, we was one of but a handful of American horse-drawn carriage dealers still in business.

Continued at... Hitched to History

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Out of the Past blog
Artwork: Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride at Twilight in a Snowy Landscape by Ira Block


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Cold Hardening


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1995. All rights reserved.

The crisp night is giving way to a warm morning glow. It will be an "Indian Summer" sort of day, the kind we missed out on last year when winter dropped in early. Some of our coldest weather came in November rather than January, where it belongs.

Most of nature depends on a steady progression of seasons.

These cool nights encourage the growth of fat and fur on dogs, cats, horses and most other warm-blooded critters.

My beard and waistline, too, seem to grow more readily this time of year. By winter solstice, or late December, we'll be well acclimated to the cold.

Continued at... Cold Hardening

Rural Delivery
The Nature Pages
Second Nature
Artwork: Winter Tree Line I by Ilona Wellman

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Bite Most Deadly




by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1995. All rights reserved.

Some folks are afraid of spiders, others snakes. Lightning puts the fear of God in many of us, and so do earthquakes, tornadoes and dark moonless nights. Living in the country presents many special worries, like the threat of wildfire or the potential for flash floods. More cars collide with wild animals on rural roads than city lanes and the chances of eating a poisonous mushroom or contracting the deadly hantavirus are much greater off the beaten path. But there is no threat so terrifying in rural places, or as fatally serious as rabies.

Growing up, I learned to keep a wary eye on grape arbors and tall, dark hedges of lilacs lest some crazed bat should emerge, grab hold of my hair, bite my scalp and infect me with rabies. Older cousins planted a terror of rabies in my pre-school mind with accounts of the terrible vaccination shots in the belly that bat bite victims had to endure and how, more often than not, the bitten person went crazy and was committed to an asylum, ranting and raving and foaming at the mouth.

Continued at... A Bite Most Deadly

Rural Delivery
Animal Husbandry
Out There
Artwork: Mad Dog


Friday, September 29, 2017

Privy to Privies


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1995. All rights reserved.

Live long enough and many of the everyday skills and experiences you take for granted become virtually obsolete, like operating a manual transmission or dialing a rotary phone.
   
Outhouses are like that. You don't see many privies any more, even on the most remote farmsteads, and few folks can claim to have sat in one.

I'm not talking about those industrial "Johnny-on-the-Jobsite" rental toilets or even the Forest Service's government-issue campground restrooms. True outhouses are homebuilt wood-plank structures with personalized features like crescent moons cut into the door or a shelf for the Sears and Roebuck catalog.

Continued at... Privy to Privies

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Farm Supply
Artwork: Billy Jacobs Morning Commute


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Yellow and Ripe with Autumn


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

The urgency of spring sprouting and the rush of summer growth has given way to a time of laid-back fulfillment. Eggs have hatched and fledglings are now on the wing. Seeds and fruits and nuts and pods are well on their way to completion. Summer is ripe and ready for harvest.

"Live in each season as it passes, breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each... Grow green with spring, yellow and ripe with autumn."

Such was the sage advice of Henry David Thoreau. One hundred sixty years later I find common ground in the truth he tilled. It is not just the crops in the field we gather this time of year, but those in our souls as well.

Continued at... Yellow and Ripe with Autumn

The Nature Pages
Outgoing
Artwork: Yellow Autumn Grass and Sunset


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Boundary Art


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

Some people make a personal statement through their clothes or in the choice of car or truck they drive; some wear a particular style of hat or cut their hair in some unique fashion.

Other folks, particularly in rural America, express themselves by decorating their mailboxes.

Travel almost any rural two-lane still frequented by farm machinery and you're likely to come across mailboxes painted with flowers and flags and animals and astrological symbols. Some mailboxes simply have the owner's name scrawled across one side, while others are ornately decorated with bright colors or sculpted in the shape of houses, barns and old railroad engines.

Continued at... Boundary Art

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Collectibles
Artwork: Tractor Mailbox


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Equinox


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

We lie on the brink of change. Great storms are brewing. This is the week of equinox, when the Earth stands up straight to the sun before it begins to tilt again, northern hemisphere tipping outward.   

At this moment everything hangs in balance. The hours of day and night are nearly even. There's some powerful physics at play.

Equinoxes are times of special powers. Calendars are created around them; crops are planted by them.

Continued at... Equinox

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Holidays and Notable Events
Artwork: Precession of the Equinoxes