Wednesday, February 24, 2016

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.

Continued at... Winter Visitors

Rural Delivery
Farm Fresh
The Nature Pages
Artwork: House Mouse

Monday, February 22, 2016

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
Shop Tools and Hardware
Artwork: Country Auction jigsaw puzzle

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Small Souls

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved.

Some people believe animals are incapable of reason; others argue that their wants and needs are as important as our own. Some people feel animals were put on earth to serve mankind; others maintain that they deserve equal rights. Some see evidence of individual souls in the eyes of the creature world, while others do not.

For most of us, our relations with animals are varied and contradictory. Domestic pets are often treated like members of the family, while closely related wild creatures are treated as vermin. Cows and pigs are raised to be slaughtered, while horses are often nurtured into old age.

Animal rights activists campaign against cruelty to pets and livestock, but rarely speak out for rats, shrews, starlings, voles or pigeons. Some rail about the evils of hunting, but turn a blind eye to the sufferings of abandoned pets.

Continued at... Small Souls

Rural Delivery
Animal Husbandry
Artwork: Panda and Baby