Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Native Yaupon Holly and Pine Forests of Southeast Texas

Native Yaupon Holly, Species: Ilex vomitoria,
See UT Austin Native Plant Database
The past week is just full of negativity.  Did you hear about the BPA you eat along with your favorite Progresso soup?  I just shook my head, walked to the pantry, looked at the neat rows of my favorites I'd just picked up the week before, and could only wonder - ponder - endlessly ruminate . . . on just what the heck I'd done to my innards the past winters that I've had Progresso's clam chowder and basil tomato every week for months on end.

Ah well . . . too much negativity.  After all, Pakistan is pondering . . . some sort of action; the Chinese own the USA (or some say it's so) . . . Iran has a bomb, no doubt . . . and Israel ain't exactly a coward . . . and mighty Egypt really has some twisted issues that will effect the rest of the world when they all settle out . . . and let me not forget the more than 50% of the USA that is on the government dole one way or the other . . . or so it seems.  Put the current eye-rolling Republican race for the presidential nomination in the mix and what do you have?  More negativity. . . I might as well forget about it all and just eat my soup -- I'll go with the Clam Chowder, heavily seasoned with black pepper, along with a side of hot American cheese toast on Jewish rye -- my absolute favorite. 
 Native Pine Tree, See UT Austin's Texas Beyond History 
The Pine Forests of East Texas 

And I'll take a walk outside and see what beautiful wonders God has brought to these Pineywoods that seem forever green -- even in the dark dry days of our summer drought the mighty pines stood tall and green.  Yes, some have suffered, there are some orange tops in the horizon of green pine tops - but not so many, pine trees appear to be good troopers, positive thinkers.

Intermixed with those glorious, reaching to the sky green pine trees in the fall of the year in eastern Texas, at least for sure this pocket of the more southeasterly section -- are native yaupons.  Some of the yaupons are males, some females.  The female yaupon puts off the most beautiful red berries; they are like a gift, a vision of something that bespeaks of newness and hope and warmth, despite the fact they come with the onset of cold.  Those bright red berries and deep green leaves are nature's Christmas show in these Pineywoods.

Over the past decade I have been quite 'eccentric', some would say, about any inadvertent killing of my female yaupon.  If a fence must be cleared, leave the female yaupon; if a gate must be put in a section of fence, move it away from the female yaupon; if the female yaupon is growing beneath a tree grove -- leave it be!  I am watching, and I'll know if you chop her down.

This past week I took some photos of female yaupons in full fruit, along with some shots of the pine trees reaching for the blue sky.  It seemed appropriate.  We have been blessed with some terribly needed rains the past few weeks.  One of them jumped the big pond by probably 8 feet over night.  All of the hardwood trees were sore in need of those rains to keep them alive until the spring, and no doubt the sturdy pine trees needed it as well to keep on being the green blessing that they always are on my horizon.  While the yaupon are notoriously tolerant to dry conditions, they surely are dancing when I'm not looking for the gift of the fall rains that will support the growth of new youngsters, male and female yaupon alike, with the coming of the next spring.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Heavy Pulp in my O.J. Please! . . . pulp and peel have natural antibiotic properties.

I've always preferred my orange juice with pulp, but it has been harder to come by in the small grocery stores of my area - of course there's always Walmart; I can usually find it there if I force myself through their anti-small business doors.  But, even there it is still in the minority of orange juices to select from.  One can assume that most folks (at least in my rural area) don't want pulp in their O.J. --  maybe it gets caught in their teeth, doesn't feel right on the tongue, who knows? 

British White Bull Calf, Son of El Presidente, Coming along
nicely due to his dam's 'regular healthy diet' that is also supplemented
with vitamins and minerals..........
 But -- I'd be willing to bet good money they'd be demanding there families drink O.J. with Heavy Pulp if they had any idea that it had medicinal benefits well beyond that silky sipping O.J. they've been drinking all these years. 

I've always been intrigued by research and resulting implementation in regard to bovines versus humans of vitamin and mineral supplementation for enhancing fertility, longevity, and disease resistance.  Just recently something hit the mainstream news in regard to humans and vitamin supplementation -- that perhaps they're not necessary for most humans who eat a regular healthy diet. 

Yet, we put our cattle out there on natural grass pastures, feed them alfalfa or grain as a supplement - and still make sure they get supplemental vitamins and minerals.  I know I try to take a combo Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc regularly - clearly its good for the cows, so I figure it is likely good for me as well.  And have you happened to notice that some bovine supplements even have Vitamin D3 in them?  I found that an interesting addition to the bovine mix - they are after all outside every single day of their lives!

I'm certainly tickled to now find out that pulp in my O.J. is a really good thing - no doubt it would take decades of research and vast sums of money spent by the USDA & FDA, etc. . .  before any Florida orange juice farmer could recommend pulp in their O.J. as healthier for a human.  Instead, I predict we'll see 'dried orange peel pellets' on the market by next year --  in a pretty package for humans to swallow down with their smooth and silky sipping O.J.

The following is most of the text in regard to this study that finds orange juice pulp and peel has 'natural antibiotic' properties:

"U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their collaborators have conducted a series of studies that explore non-antibiotic methods to reduce foodborne pathogens that are found in the gut of food animals.

The team consists of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) microbiologist Todd R. Callaway, with the agency's Food and Feed Safety Research Unit in College Station, Texas; ARS animal scientist and project leader Jeffery Carroll with the agency's Livestock Issues Research Unit in Lubbock, Texas; and John Arthington at the University of Florida in Ona.
Early studies showed that citrus products provide cows with good roughage and vitamins, and the essential oils in such products provide a natural antibiotic effect.

Callaway's early data showed the feasibility of using orange pulp as a feed source to provide anti-pathogenic activity in cattle. He also showed that consumption of citrus byproducts (orange peel and pulp) by cattle is compatible with current production practices, and the byproducts are palatable to the animals. 

Orange Peel Waste being used to make Ethanol
Photo Source:  The Sietch Blog
 Callaway then shed light on how to exploit the essential oils inside the peel and pulp that are natural antimicrobials. Collaborations with researchers Steven Ricke and Philip Crandall at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville also have identified specific essential oils that kill the pathogenic bacteria.

From the time Callaway began studying citrus as an animal gut cleanser, he recognized that citrus peel can be heavy and expensive to ship long distances, so his latest studies have investigated the use of processed orange peel pellets.

For one study, the team fed dried orange peel pellets to sheep as a model for cows for eight days. They found a tenfold reduction in Salmonella populations in the animals' intestinal contents. Callaway received a grant from the National Cattleman's Beef Association (Beef Checkoff funds) to help fund the study. Results from the 2011 study were published in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease."

Link to Drovers Cattle Network Source Article: USDA scientists reduce pathogens in cattle with orange peels ; USDA - Updated: November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hardships of Early Texas Pioneers - Late 19th Century Poetry

Newspaper Source:  Texas Siftings, Published August 1, 1885, Reproduced below as printed in the newspaper.  I found this a very moving and visual old ballad that well captures the travails of early Texas settlers, as well as the distinct voice of the times.  No author is credited, merely the 'Written for Siftings' as presented below.  Texas Siftings was started in 1881 in Austin, Texas.  See the Texas State Historical Association discussion of this early newspaper at this link.


[Written for Siftings]

"Then why do I sell?" you ask me again
Big cabin, an' clearin', an' all?
Well, Stranger, I'll tell you; though maybe you'll think
It ain't any reason at all.
There's plenty of hardships in pi'neer life;
It's a hard workin' stint; at the best,
But I'd stick to it yet if 't wa'nt for this:
A heart like a log in my breast.

D'ye see over there by the cotton wood tree,
A climbin' rose close by a mound,
Inside of a fence made of rough cedar boughs,
With Woodbine all runnin' around?
Well -- Netty, my darling old woman, lies there:
Not very old either you see
She wa'n't mor'n twenty the year I come West,
Sh'd be comin' grass, thirty-three.

How she worked with a will at our first little hut,
In the fields and among garden stuff
Till her forehead was burned, and her poor little hands,
Through hardships, grew rugged and rough.
She never complained; but many a time
I have come in and found her just there,
With eyelids all red and her face to the East:
You see all her own folks were there.

I'd cheer her and tell her we'd go by and' bye
When the clearin' an' ploughin' was through;
But then came the baby.  He wa'n't very strong,
And poor Netty had plenty to do.
So after a while she got gloomy again;
She would hide in the corn-field to cry;
We hadn't no meetin' to speak of, you know,
Not a woman to talk to was nigh.

An' she wanted to show little Joe to her folk;
She was hungry, I s'pose, for the sight
Of faces and scenes she had had loved all her life,
Which 'twas natteral, Stranger, and right.
But just when we'd planned to go over the plains,
The devilish Sioux came about.
So we waited, it may be, a harvest or two,
And then came the summer of drought --

That left us poor people.  The next coming spring
Such a wearisome fever came round:
An' Stranger -- hold on till I tell you -- there now --
It had little Joe in the ground.
Netty pined to a shadder, and moped by his grave
And her eyes grew so large and so clear,
That I knowed we had got to go soon to the East
If I cared about keepin' her here.

If you'd seen her poor face when at last I could say
I would take her home vistin'.  Well --
I'll never forget how she put up her hands
Into mine, and for joy cried a spell.
She didn't feel strong though, that week or the next,
An' the cough an' the fever increased,
But softly she'd whisper -- she couldn't speak loud --
"We'll go -- by an' bye -- to the East."

She never got East any further than that,
Right over there under the mound;
But I'm going to take her and Joe in the spring
to her father's old burying ground.
That Stranger's the reason I'm willin' to sell;
You can buy at a bargain, you see;
It's mighty good land for a settler to have,
But it seems like a grave-yard to me."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rain Making in Texas - A Successful Explosives Experiment in 1891

Okay, now this I find quite interesting; it would appear that rain was successfully conjured up in the Midland, Texas area in the fall of 1891.  Also of note is the author's mention of the extent of the drought in the Midland area in 1891 - " . . . little or no rain had fallen the locality for some three years."  It seems the successful experiment was premised on the rains that seemed to consistently fall in the grueling days of the Civil War following the cannon shots and gunfire of major battles.  Hmmm . . . there are a lot of guns in Texas . . . maybe we need to pick a day and time and all shoot at the sky!

Otago Witness , Issue 1965, 22 October 1891, Page 45

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Timaru Herald, Volume LIII, Issue 5269, 21 October 1891, Page 3

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