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

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Animal Husbandry
Farm Supply
Artwork: Dexter Cow.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

December Exposure.

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

Fencelines once lost to syringa and gooseberry have reappeared and the rocky outcrop along the riverbank is visible once more.  Brown ribbons of road wind their way along the edges of the corn field, now reduced to stubble.

There comes a time late in the autumn when all is exposed. After the foliage has fallen from the trees and before the first layer of snow, there's usually a week or two of nakedness.

The spikes of goldenrod and stands of wild geraniums are grayed and flattened by black frosts and pelting rains. In the pasture, the tall fescues and perennial ryegrasses are matted and bending low.

Continued at... December Exposure

Rural Delivery
The Nature Pages
Out of the Past: Thoreau
Artwork: Barren Tree.

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