Hot, muggy weather returned to my realm this past weekend, and with it came an abundance of wildlife.
Yesterday, while spending the day with Daughter No. 4, we caught four turtles, one rat snake, one glass lizard, wildflowers galore, and, the highlight of the day, a baby turkey, or poult.
(Of course, we rang up a big fat zero on the day’s stated goal: catching fish.)
Now, no offense to aficionados of turtles, snakes or glass lizards, but catching the baby turkey was definitely the highlight.
While driving in a rural part of a rural county toward mid-afternoon we spied a hen on the side of the road. My daughter also caught sight of several youngsters, so I stopped the car and set off into the underbrush while she grabbed the camera.
The hen immediately began clucking and trotting in large circles around me, trying to draw me away from her babies. My daughter began taking pictures every time the hen ventured near her while I crouched in the brush stock still, trying to catch sight or sound of the youngsters.
Good news came down this week for individuals who buy and sell pig-footed bandicoots: the ban on international trade of the small marsupial was lifted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
The bad news is that the embargo was removed because the pig-footed bandicoot, native to Australia, is believed to have been extinct for approximately 60 years.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species also lifted bans on trade of the Tasmanian tiger and the buff-nosed kangaroo rat for the same reason, according to Agence France-Presse.
The pig-footed bandicoot was native to western New South Wales and Victoria, the southern part of the Northern Territory as well as South Australia and Western Australia, according to a 19th century guide to marsupials.
It had a wide range of habitat, from grassy woodland to grassland plains into even desert-like plains, according to the website Red Orbit.
The pig-footed bandicoot had a body size of 8 to 10 inches long, with a 6-inch tail. It possessed long, slender limbs, large, pointed ears, and a long tail. Its body looked not unlike a cross between a large shrew and a reasonably well-fed Chihuahua.
The perfume of longleaf pine pitch is one of the Southeast’s inherent charms.
The wonderful fragrance is particularly evident on hot summer days, evoking an aromatic reminder of an era when forests of Pinus palustris were found throughout the region, before clear-cutting reduced longleaf populations by more than 95 percent, to be replaced by faster growing pine species.
Today, about 3 million acres of longleaf pines remain in the region. The good news is the trees and their environment are making a slow but steady comeback.
“Many Southeastern landowners have converted parts of their farmland to use for contract hunting, fishing, camping and even bird-watching. The ecosystem supported by native longleaf pines fits perfectly into the business plan for such rural enterprises,” according to Southeast Farm Press.
In addition, timber from longleaf pines is very desirable because it tends to be long, straight and has tight growth rings, the publication added.
Not only does longleaf pine timber tend to bring a premium price compared to pines species such as the loblolly, but longleafs also produce a huge amount of pine straw, which can also be sold to help offset the costs associated with the latter’s longer growing period.
Longleaf ecosystems have other benefits, as well. These include being home to 26 federally listed endangered or threatened species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise and flatwoods salamander.
Secession talk is all the rage of late, with disaffected Americans from Alabama to Alaska saying it’s time to break away and form their own independent enclaves.
Most Americans remember what happened the last time secession was attempted on a major scale. While some argue the matter has never been satisfactorily resolved judicially, others point out that it was pretty clearly settled by the events of 1861-65.
Yet, despite the defeat of the Confederacy nearly 150 years ago and the ensuing belief in the inviolability of the Union, periodic secession movements have continued to crop up over the past century and a half.
Most, however, have focused on taking a piece of an existing state and breaking away to form a new state, such as West Virginia did in 1863.
Massachusetts, New York, Arizona and California are among states in recent years with small but vocal separatist elements, factions interested in snapping off parts of their respective states to form new independent entities.
In fact, California has had more than 200 such proposals since it became a state in 1851, with the first coming only a year after it was admitted to the Union, when northern Californians presented a bill to California’s State Legislature with the goal of creating the State of Shasta by combining areas of northern California and southern Oregon, according to the Mt. Shasta (Calif.) Herald.
One of the more interesting concepts for a new state involved the same region, just before World War II.
The sing-song cry of the tobacco auctioneer – which wafted across Tobacco Road for decades but has been largely silent since 2004 – is beginning to be heard once again.
Auctioneers have become involved in the sale of the leafy crop for the first time in any size since the quota buyout of 2004, Southeast Farm Press reports.
“The average price was just under $2.02 per pound, very competitive with contract delivery stations,” the publication reported. “Many of the lots brought $2.20 a pound, also very high, and there were substantially no rejections of bids by farmers.”
This was the third year that Old Belt Tobacco Sales has conducted auctions in Rural Hall, 10 miles north of Winston-Salem, Southeast Farm Press added.
In 2010, the warehouse sold five million pounds, then 2.5 million pounds in 2011, when Hurricane Irene reduced the tobacco available.
Production of Harris Tweed – woven in the Outer Hebrides off the coast of Scotland – is booming, according to industry specialists.
The cloth has enjoyed an enhanced profile with enthusiasts staging European bicycle rides while garbed in Harris Tweed in Glasgow, Stockholm and Moscow.
The Harris Tweed Industry Forum said 2012 has been the “best year” for production in almost 15 years, according to the BBC.
The cloth is hand-woven by residents of the Isles of Lewis and Harris, Uist and Barra in the Outer Hebrides using local wool. It is then exported to a variety of countries, including Japan and Germany.
Traditional Harris Tweed is characterized by subtle flecks of color achieved through the use of vegetable dyes, including lichen dyes called “crottle,” according to Wikipedia.
Total production is expected to hit more than 1 million yards of cloth by the end of the year, the BBC reported.
Few scenes capture the spirit of the South more clearly than fields of ripening cotton, so thick with fluffy bolls that the whiteness dazzles the eye.
Farm Press understands the charm of cotton and is again asking readers to grab their cameras and capture the picturesque crop in all its splendor.
For the second straight year, Farm Press, which publishes Southeast Farm Press among other publications, is looking for photos that “recognize the beauty of cotton and the people who grow it.”
“Cotton is a huge part of Southern farm culture … snow-white fields ready for harvest hold promise of a good return for hard work and perseverance,” writes Slate Canon on the Farm Press Blog. “And from the time the first seedling pushes through the soil, to first bloom, to boll fill and finally to the massive pickers marching through fields leaving brown swaths in the white landscape, a cotton crop is a work of art.”
Farm Press is asking readers to send in their best cotton photos – kids in cotton fields, blooms, sunsets, pickers and strippers, anything that captures the uniqueness of cotton – to firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 1.
Potatoes collected and set aside during the Irish Potato Famine nearly 170 years ago are providing clues that will enable researchers to both better understand the cataclysmic event and also protect crops today.
Their research showed how the disease survived between growing seasons, and also helped scientist better devise tests for plant diseases going forward, the BBC added.
The Great Famine took place between 1845 and 1852 and claimed approximately 1 million lives. Another 1 million Irish emigrated, to escape the relentless hunger that struck after potato blight wreaked havoc on Ireland’s potato crop.
Fully one-third of the island’s population was entirely dependent on the potato for food.
For much of painter Marc Chagall’s long life, the famed artist’s genius was frowned upon in the Soviet Union.
Today, however, Chagall, who was born in modern-day Belarus, is enjoying a revival in the former USSR, with a new exhibition examining the influence of folk art and his Jewish heritage on his work.
An exhibition at Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery seeks to “help people to understand the mystery of Chagall,” who always looked to popular art in his search for a distinctive figurative language, said curator Ekaterina Selezneva.
“Visitors often ask, why Chagall’s animals are blue, yellow or pink, why the bride is flying over the rooftops and the man has two faces. They will now understand where Chagall drew (his images) from,” she said.
Born Moishe Segal in 1887 to a poor Jewish family outside Vitebsk in modern Belarus, Chagall never turned his back on his life in the Jewish pale – the area to which Tsarina Catherine II confined the Jews of her empire in the 18th century – and recalls images of Vitebsk in each painting, according to Agence France-Presse.