Thursday, July 18, 2013

Offshore Wind Turbine Farms in Texas Gulf Coastal Waters

Our Texas Gulf Coast is home to untold numbers of birds of many species, as well being a critical path for the annual migrations of many many other bird species. Already the endless acres of Texas coastal farmland, beautifully productive with fields of cotton and grain out to the horizon, are now littered and forever scarred by acres of wind turbines within miles of the Texas Gulf Coast.  Children now grow up without ever seeing true nightfall, the darkness, the inky black night sky that is an endless vista in the flat lands of southern Texas.  Instead of the awe of gazing up at the starlit sky . . . they have blinking wind turbine lights intruding like low hanging man mad stars - that's their childhood.  I suppose they'll have to go on vacation some where as adults to ever experience a true night sky.
Now, I learn from the following article that there are well progressing plans to put wind turbine farms actually in the waters of the Texas Gulf Coast.  I doubt there is anything that can stop that so-called progress, but I have to say something about it.  One of the beautiful experiences of being out on the flats of the Laguna Madre is the sight of enormous flocks of birds on their annual migrations across the bay - those flocks of birds may find themselves obliterated in the years to come by the blades of wind turbines.  
Besides the great numbers of migrations across the waters of the Texas Gulf Coast, there are the native birds that call it home year round.  One of my favorites is the Roseate Spoonbill, that lives year around along the waters and the shore of the Gulf.  And I can't imagine anyone unfamiliar with the sturdy brown pelican that has lived a largely peaceful existence since time began over the waters of the Texas Gulf Coast.  
Photo and caption by Mark Newman A flock of brown pelicans flying low at the seashore with waves in the background.
Location: Padre Island National Seashore, Texas Coast
The BP oil spill impacted that peaceful existence and both public and private time and money was spent to assist these mighty birds in surviving their drenching of oil.  The entire world was appalled and cried foul at such a travesty.  Below you see a photo of the release of brown pelicans, a total of 65 were released that day, back in to their native habitat, cleaned of oil, winging out in to the air in I'm sure relief their ordeal was over.  Yet . . . we will soon kill them with wind turbines and never even count the dead bodies . . . only a human with a skewed and blind agenda could countenance such a contradiction. 

As First Offshore Wind Turbine Launches In Maine, Is Texas Next?

JUNE 10, 2013 | 3:53 PM
In the race to establish the country’s first offshore wind farm, the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composite Center drifted across the finish line recently, when it launched a small, floating-platform research wind turbine off the coast of Castine, Maine. The Center hopes to connect a full-size turbine to their power grid by 2016.
In Texas, however, where steady winds and a gently sloped shoreline could make for ideal conditions to harvest wind, offshore wind is racing to catch up.
Offshore wind farms are typically more efficient than their onshore counterparts because there’s fewer physical obstructions and a more predictably consistent flow of wind. But critics of offshore wind cite potential problems, like impacts on wildlife and scenery. Then there’s the hefty price tag: offshore turbines can be twice as expensive to build as onshore ones.
To the north the King Ranch, 825,000 acres (3338 square kilometres or 1289 square miles) with 60,000 cattle.
The Texas Gulf Coast was at one point thought to be the best candidate for the country’s first offshore wind farm, but efforts by companies such as Coastal Point Energy and Baryonyx have yet to launch. But that might change in the next few years.
Off the coast of Texas, a consortium of universities, energy companies and manufacturers have come together to bring offshore wind farms to the Gulf Coast. The Department of Energy (DOE) is partially funding the design of several offshore wind energy projects over this next year, including the Texas Gulf Offshore Wind Project(GoWind), which plans to install three turbines in the Gulf.
GoWind is composed of research teams from several Texas universities, as well as companies like Baryonyx, and turbine and platform manufacturers. In addition to federal funding, the group has contributed between $20 to $25 million of their own money to the project.
John Pappas, director of the Texas A&M Wind Energy Center, is one of the project’s leaders. He thinks that the GoWind project will succeed because of the Gulf’s inherent advantages, like its long history of offshore oil drilling.  
Cleaned pelicans, oiled from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, are released at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Gulf Coast . . . Source:  Gerald Herbert, The Associated Press
“What’s good about the Gulf of Mexico, first and foremost, is that we have the infrastructure and the people who know how to work offshore,” Pappas said. “In some other places, they don’t have the infrastructure necessary to bring [turbines] offshore and construct them.”
In Texas, Pappas and the GoWind team, will submit their designs to the government by February of next year. The Department of Energy will then consider their proposal along with six others. Three of them will be selected for full funding, with the expectation that they’ll start generating power no later than the fall of 2017.
Whether or not GoWind is one of those three, Pappas thinks that offshore wind in the Gulf is an inevitability. Within a decade, he projects that turbines off the Texas coast will be able to produce two to three gigawatts of energy. That’s roughly 4 percent of the state’s current peak energy demand.
“It will be something that people are used to and understand and want, because it is clean and because it does have a relatively small impact on the environment, and on people, and on other life as well,” Pappas said. “I think it’s just going to become … more accepted.”
Michael Marks is a reporting intern with StateImpact Texas. 


A Bobolink in flight. (Photo: © Paul Higgins)
Source:  LivingOnEarth.Org

Defined as those bird species that cross the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula to the U. S. Gulf Coast (Texas to Florida). Trans-Gulf migration is characteristic of the following species, but does not exclude the possibility of some circum-Gulf passage either. Bird migration is not black or white. In the biological world there are rules, but there are always exceptions. This is not a complete list. (List Source:  Texas Parks and Wildlife)

Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Black-billed Cuckoo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Common Nighthawk
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Western Kingbird
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
White-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Purple Martin
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Swainson’s Thrush
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Blue-winged Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Palm Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Prothonotary Warbler
Worm-eating Warbler
Swainson’s Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush
Kentucky Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bohaty's 2013 British White Open House and Sale - And the Upcoming BWCAA meeting in Snyder, Texas

The Bohaty's 2013 Open House & Sale - and darned if I didn't find I have a few words that had to be spoken about the upcoming BWCAA meeting and election of 3 board members . . . 

Every April for the last decade I always know the Bohaty's will be having their annual British White Cattle Open House and Sale.  I've been fortunate to make a few of those sales when the gatherings of folks from across the country was a sight to see, and the conversation and camaraderie of members and newbies was a source of knowledge and inspiration and . . . just generally a gratifying trip to this rural community in the cornfields of Nebraska.  You can fly in to Omaha and see the sights of that great city's Old Market area - it is filled with very lovely shops and restaurants, just lots of history there.  Even in these difficult days for the USA - it feels safe, relaxed, and just a great American experience.  Bellwood is an easy 2 hour drive from Omaha after a comfortable evening of dining and strolling through the old district -- I was surely looking forward to that once again!

J.West's Allie Eve with newborn - J.West's Nancy Bee - 4/14/13
But, that wasn't in the cards.  I was already nervous about travelling, it had really been a while since I'd traveled alone.  Lots of you know I cared for my elderly dog, Fred, the past few years to the point no doubt of some sort of neurosis - but you very kindly smiled with understanding when I missed every single British White event of importance in favor of staying home with my little Fred.  But Fred passed away in March of 2012, so I essentially had no single reason not to hop a plane to the Bohaty sale.

But then the weather got weird and I started imagining driving in a little rental, with snow chains, without snow chains; asking myself can I even put on snow chains? Remembering hydroplaning on ice in years past, wondering if I could handle it now?  My imagination was running wild and literally left me in tears, I wasn't even sure who the heck I was anymore!  Where was the Jimmie who'd go anywhere/do anything at the drop when called on?  And then there were the cows.  My cows are always dropping calves in April.

But, that looked like it would work out based on all my scribbled notes in my daily cow journal, and running observed breeding dates through a gestation calculator and all that.  I was able to thoroughly convince myself that nothing would happen while I was gone, that nothing would be missed, that my own instincts and eye on things wasn't any better than anybody else's oversight . . . almost.  That's a hard one for me, but I am working on it.

Anyway, I am rambling a bit, imagine that :).  The point is --  I did not make the Bohaty sale!  Felt like a complete coward and  failure as a friend to those fine folks, Walter and Nancy Bohaty.  Of course that sale went off without a hitch despite my mouthy presence to bend the ear of every one I encountered.

The Bohaty sale was attended by members of the BWCAA as well as the ABWPA and there were countless newcomers interested in the breed attending.  The Bohaty's are charter members of the BWCAA,  but after the grief of last summer Nancy did join the ABWPA - and I am a member as well.  Walter and Nancy Bohaty know better than most anyone the true and real kinship of the 'white' cows of both associations, and I've no doubt many will follow their lead in the years to come despite the lame rhetoric of influential members who appear to explore letting us join together one year -- and trash them the next -- truth wins in the end.  In the event you don't know - Walter Bohaty's participation in the BWCAA predates any other member in a leadership position right now.  Did you now that?  
Bohaty Sale 2013 

Walter Bohaty has been a productive board member of the BWCAA off and on for years - I can only wish I realized how much I should have respected every word and thought of Walter's when I was on that board.  Walter and Nancy up until just a few years back had the single biggest herd of British White cattle registered with the BWCAA.  Right now, I don't know who has the biggest registered herd as our Association doesn't give much public information in that regard and I'm no longer a welcomed insider.  Regardless, their support of the BWCAA has been critical to its financial success for any number of years -- as in their herd fees paid a hell of a lot of our bills that kept the BWCAA on it's financial feet.

As many of you know, Walter Bohaty and Linda Hohenwald of RLC Farms, current members of the Board of the BWCAA, were subjected to potential personal and professional ruin by some element of the BWCAA just this past summer.  It seemed a very personal and irrational event, actioned under the official umbrella of the BWCAA.  It was a very poorly thought out attempt to force the Bohaty's and Linda Hohenwald not just off the board of directors -- but to strip them of their basic membership!! if they refused to resign from that board -- and it proved to be a very costly action.  How interesting that one of the founding members who has contributed the most to the financial bottom line of the BWCAA had to see part of those hard earned dollars used against them!!

Now we come to today.  Here it is May 1st, 2013.  We all got that letter from the president of the BWCAA informing us of the nominees and their cute Bio's for the three upcoming open board seats.  Groovy.  And I've not a single reason to think any one of them would not be productive board members.  But it is plain odd.  I literally thought that the board must have made a bylaw change effecting election of board members that I missed.  Remember that stink last year?  They tried to pass bylaw changes to the election of board members without membership approval?  I immediately assumed upon receipt of that letter that they'd managed to do it and I had missed it.  Not so.

I would imagine if I thought that must be what had happened, then many of you did as well, and still do, think the same.  But there simply have been no changes in the method of election our board members.  Apparently, neither Walter Bohaty nor Linda Hohenwald were asked if they wished to run again for their Board seats!!!  All outgoing Board members are asked if they'd like to run for another term -- not this time.  Surprised are you?? Not really a surprise to me either.  I would also add that while I was on the board one of my very biggest surprises was driving all the way to some horrible tourist town to discover a board nomination that was a done deal that I'd been told absolutely nothing about - lots of precedent on this score.

Sandhill Cranes grazing in cornstalks at Bohaty 2013 Sale
But, this so-called "President's" letter, its presumptive tone, its lack of explanation in regard to Walt and Linda, is in my opinion clearly yet another effort to control this upcoming election.  The fact is, any one of you who would like to be considered as a member of the board can have yourself put on the ballot for the election at the upcoming meeting in June in Snyder, Texas.  The fact is any one of you can give your proxy to either Walter Bohaty or Linda Hohenwald and have them vote for you at that meeting.  Heck, I think you could even give it to me -- but I will not be there unless of course I learn that Walter Bohaty and Linda Hohenwald  have been asked if they wished to run once again for a seat on 'our' board of directors, and they will be properly placed on the ballot at the meeting.  Even then, it's a bit far for me to drive alone and I would have to make that trip on my own - as my chauffeur has refused.  I know that our delightful member, Carolyn Barbee, will put on a great meeting; certainly last years meeting was very interesting and entertaining - even watching a member at the annual meeting doing the old finger across the throat with great zest in an attempt to signal the board to squelch any further questions from the membership - I still look fondly back at that with great amusement!

  • If you do get a proxy request in the mail from the BWCAA, please explore what you are giving up, and who you are giving it to very seriously.  At the last election there was no disclosure, absolutely zero, of the number of proxies held, who had signed over their proxy, how those proxies were voted . . . nothing.  And zero oversight recorded during the vote or afterward in the minutes which is a violation of the rules as I understand them.

This is not high school.  This is not a popularity contest; it is not about who is the big man on campus; student body president; voted most popular; voted most helpful . . . etc....  This is our world, our business, our livelihoods impacted -- NOT the future of our hobbies or social standing!!!

Dang, I really did not intend to do anything more than publicly apologize to the Bohaty's for letting them down by not making their sale!!  The Sunday morning of their sale weekend I had a pretty little heifer born, she is just so cute, and I immediately thought to myself . . . that will be Nancy Bee, and how perfect!!  I so adore the name and am hopeful she will be the matriarch of a nice line of calves that will bear a continuation of that name.

Here is the video that I finally got edited and posted to YouTube just this afternoon.  I do hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Controlled Substances Act Newly Applied to Large Animal Vets

The D.E.A. wants Y.O.U. to have to haul your cow or horse to your vet, or at least that's my read on this, and that of course would be a real burden to the cattle raiser, if not impossible in many situations.  Of course, I could just be paranoid - and in no way is this a sly first move toward a long range goal of creating another headache or stumbling block for the beef growers and beef eaters in the USA in the interests of curtailing both the growing of and consumption of that beef.

There appears to have been a 2012 reinterpretation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).  Or maybe not a reinterpretation, but a reinvention of how to interpret it?  Some government employee with outstanding ability to read between the lines and in to the psyche of the original crafters of the CSA in 1970?  Or some one or group who got a big high five from upstairs for finding yet another way to cause difficulty for livestock producers in the United States?

It seems that back in 2012 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stepped in to regulate the movement of certain substances used in the normal course of business for a large animal veterinarian. In the state of California vets were notified of the 'new rules' by June of last year.  From everything I've read so far, it is only California vets that received DEA notice of "illegal" acts, which strikes me as odd, maybe it was sequester budget savings in advance?  Like if they put the squeeze to CA, the rest of the country's vets will get the word, save a little paper or something?  Couldn't find a pigeon perhaps?

  •  "The act apparently has not been applied to mobile veterinary practices until recently, but the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) appears to be changing its practice this year, as mobile veterinarians in California report that they have received notices that their activities are illegal." June 2012, DogZombieBlog

The DEA's target is the mobile vet, the one that comes to your farm or ranch to vaccinate your calves, take a look at a sickly cow or horse, palpate your cows, etc. . . It is certainly not a new concept, and I've no doubt there were lots more vets in 1970 who were "mobile" caregivers than there are now.  There are fewer and fewer large animal vets coming out of our universities now than ever before; yet, now, the DEA suddenly decides they've been overlooking a dangerous avenue of drugs they are compelled to leash with greater regulations in the year 2012?  What a puzzle.

From the March 14, 2013 issue of The Weekly Livestock Reporter we learn that:

  • "Dr. Thomas W. Graham of Davis, CA, told the American Veterinary Medical Association he had been contacted by the state's DEA and had stopped carrying pentobarbital, diazepam, xylazine and butorphanol in his vehicle because he was told it was illegal.  Graham is a large animal vet . . . He told the AVMA in a report that he is using a handgun for euthanasia until he is assured he can carry what he needs into the field to euthanize an animal."    "Graham is walking a fine line between following a law that is murky at best, and treating his patients as humanely and professionally as possible.  As word of the DEA notices spread to other states, outrage has continued to grow about the rule."

U.S. Representative Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon, is a veterinarian, and one of seventeen members of Congress who wrote to the DEA in October 2012 regarding this power grab by the DEA and its impact on vets.  There has not been a response in writing from anyone in the U.S. Government.  I suppose those seventeen members of Congress elected by the people simply don't have the clout to warrant a timely response from the DEA.

Schrader said, "Not a single member of Congress intended the CSA to be used as a means of restricting the practice of mobile vets.  The DEA has no clue what it means to drive the countryside providing veterinary care and protecting our food supply." Schrader added that "the DEA's interpretation of the CSA gives him pause as to how much leeway agencies like this should have.  He says legislation is being drafted to correct the problem, and within a month or so that legislation should be introduced."

In the meantime, the DEA says "that it is not legal for veterinarians to use controlled substances outside of their registered locations."  So . . . euthanizing with pentobarbital on your horse's home turf becomes out of the question, sedating an injured cow with diazepam or xylazine on farm to safely treat the cow (safer for the cow and the vet) is out of the question, and if your horse is having a severe colic, or has a severe injury of any sort that would call for a good pain reliever, I suppose you'll have to somehow get him loaded in to the trailer for an office call to get some butorphanol . . . 

Hmmm . . . I think I'll go grab a couple of aspirin for this headache while I still can.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Our Christmas Miracle - A Thankful British White Heifer

Meet this gutsy little heifer who controlled our daily lives for several weeks, starting the week before Thanksgiving and continuing on through the New Year.  Her name is now Thankful, and she is grateful for our efforts I'm sure, but Holiday might be a good moniker for her as well, as she certainly took over our holiday season from Thanksgiving to the New Year!  Thankful hung her rear legs in a hay ring in surely the most awkward and puzzling way I could ever have imagined.  It was one of those sturdy green ones from Tractor Supply, certainly doesn't look like a potential death trap to yearlings . . . but strange things happen around here!

It was almost a full two days after her injury before she would eat or drink.  Cows have such endurance and tolerance for pain, even the yearlings, it's hard to say whether she wouldn't eat because she was in silent pain, or she was super ticked off at not being able to walk and she was purely sulled -- most likely a bit of both I'm sure.  My miracle cure to perk up Thankful's appetite was a big syringe of pure Louisiana cane syrup that first night, and she was eating finally by the end of the next day, and perhaps more importantly, she would finally drink.

The picture above is in the first week of her injury.  You can see one of two different splints we tried on her right rear leg . . . hard to say whether either attempt was helpful to her, but it did stop her from trying to crawl on a flipped backward ankle and perhaps creating more damage.  We weren't even clear on just what was wrong with either leg, but the right rear weakness seemed to be her hip at issue as she had full retraction in the leg.  It wasn't until about the 2nd week or so in to the injury that her hair started slipping on the left leg and I realized it was an oozing infectious mess underneath her skin to be sure.  The circulation was cut off to both legs trapped in the ring, her limbs were cold and hard when we found her that morning, and I'm guessing maybe it just like killed the skin?  Just don't know.  The vet didn't even notice it when he was here after Thanksgiving, otherwise I'd likely feel guilty for missing that damage so long.

My choice of bandages . . . duct tape, and lots of it, over big gauze pads, it worked pretty good if you wrapped the top and bottom several times.  I finally had to actually trim away a large section of her dead hairless hide . . . I suppose I was looking at raw muscle under there.  I had no idea how all that was going to play out and tried real hard not to let my imagination get away from me there.  And, no, I did not call the vet again.  When he saw her the first week he only gave her at best a 20% chance of a full functioning recovery . . . if he saw that mass of exposed red meat I was doubtful he'd leave me with that 20% of hope I was working with.

During that first week she started managing to move about the pasture in sort of a crawling-hop, and mostly she managed to move about in a downhill least-resistance direction.  So by the morning of Thanksgiving Day she had landed right up next to a big woodpile at the bottom of the slope and we knew we'd have to find a way to move her away from there. Given her bad luck the whole pile might just come tumbling down on her if she tried to maneuver herself around about the woodpile.

After a lot of arguments and ideas, we finally settled on using the hay tarp straps to cinch Thankful up and pick her up with the hay forks to move her to a safer place. Mike as always was as willing and determined to get the job done as ever when we have a man-sized dilemma with the cows.  Normally, I say something not very nice under my breath when I encounter one of his knots on something about the place that I have to deal with -- this time I was happy in knowing he would tie some really good knots in those tarp straps to hold her in for her tractor ride.

We were able to move Thankful about 100 feet towards the edge of this pasture, and likely that's as far as this method of moving a heifer is good for because of the body compression from the straps.  Mike also kept the tractor moving very slow to keep any stress on her over the bumps and hollows of the pasture to a minimum.  Thankful didn't seem bothered by her adventure, she never got agitated at all, and just seemed to think it was all part of this new strange chapter in her life.  You see her below just after we got her settled in along the pond fence with hay and water, and if you zoom in on this photo you'll see some creative hay string at work to repair the fence . . . life on a hay string  . . . it's not so bad!

Over the days that followed Thankful began to move mysteriously about during the night, and we'd find her greater and greater distances from where she'd been fed the night before. Curiously, she kept herself going around the perimeter of the pasture, following the fence line, until she'd reached all the way to the top end of it, saying hello! to all the traffic on US 69.  At this point she'd been travelling up hill for some days -- and then she started back down and around - she seemed to have a travelling plan and she wasn't going to let any grass grow under her feet if she could help it.  Did I mention she is a very gutsy little heifer? 

This went on for some weeks and Christmas arrived and we clearly weren't going to be going anywhere as Thankful still depended on us to bring her hay and water where ever she landed.  About a week before I'd managed to get her moved from the pasture she was injured in to the next one and on from there to a trap  area that would contain her to smaller digs.  It took some grit from both of us to do that, she could only move a short distance at a time, then she'd rest, then I'd prod her to get back up and I'd help support her weight on her right rear side as she hobbled a ways and then gave out and rested.  We eventually made it to our destination, and we both were well pooped out.

We spent Christmas here at home, which is always fine with me, but it turned out to be one of those you don't want to ever recall so you just block it out and go on down the road.  A runaway freight train rather than Santa Claus actually arrived on the Eve of Christmas here on this beautiful hill in the Pineywoods we call home, and seeing the arrival of the break of day on Christmas morning was a blessing.  But even more of a blessing was discovering that Thankful suddenly had found the use of her right rear leg.  I will always believe that it was the gift of a miracle for both of us, a sign of hope for the future.

Below you'll see a video of Thankful on New Year's Eve. It took some days for my brain to believe what what my eyes had been telling me since the day after Christmas, days to even say to Mr. Brown, my very special right hand man who helps me here, look at her, can't you see! she's better!  Like me, he had shaken his head and given up on her to make any more progress just a couple weeks before.  But also like me, once he really looked, he saw it too, and I knew it wasn't just me being hopeful or too positive, or any of that.  She was really better, much better!   

Here is a video of Thankful on New Year's Eve, and pardon the music, but I thought she deserved all that clapping . . .

The video below is of Thankful just 3 days before Christmas.  I took this video to send to my vet to show him she was NOT progressing and to see if he still was agreeable to taking her to his place and then harvesting her for beef . . . ouch.  Some of you may think that is really awful, but in fact it was to my mind the most humane way to deal with her if she wouldn't recover well enough to carry a calf.  I certainly wouldn't have wanted to take her to a sale barn or try to find someone to put a bullet in her head and then ask Mike to please honey bury her.

Thankful continues to get better and better.  She was running and cavorting with this cold weather today, and I saw her literally hop up and down with both rear legs in sync!  She shows every indication that she will make a full recovery.  My vet did add when he gave me that 20% of hope for her all those weeks ago . . . that it didn't perhaps apply to me as I lived things longer than anyone he new . . . a reference I'd imagine, didn't ask, to my old and beloved Fred, who came to me on a Christmas Eve twenty one years ago . . . we do miss him.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2013!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bakewell's Optimal Cow in 1856 . . . sounds a lot like the British White cows in my pastures today!

Excerpt from:  The American Farmer, Vol. XIV, 1858, Pg. 57
J.West's S.S. Carter sired heifer calf from an El Presidente daughter 
We find the following in Rural New Yorker extracted from the London Quarterly Review for April 1856

". . . The cattle of ancient days were chiefly valued for dairy qualities or for draft, and were only fatted when they would milk or draw no longer. The greater number of breeds were large boned and ill shaped, greedy eaters and slow at ripening, while as very little winter food was raised except hay, the meat laid on in summer was lost or barely maintained in winter. Fresh meat for six months of the year was a luxury only enjoyed by the wealthiest. 

      First class farmers salted down an old cow in autumn, which with their flitches of bacon, supplied their families with meat until the spring.   Esquire Bedel Gunning, in his Memorials of Cambridge, relates that when Dr Makepeace Thackeray settled in Chester about the beginning of the present century, he presented one of his tenants with a bull calf of a superior breed. On his inquiry after it in the spring,the tenant replied, "Sir, he was a noble animal, we killed him at Christmas and have lived upon him ever since." 

      The improvement of the breeds of live stock is one of the events which distinguish the progress of English Agriculture during the last century. Prominent among those who labored to this end was Robert Bakewell of Dishley, the founder of the Leicester sheep. He also had his favorite long horn cattle and black cart horses, and though he failed in establishing these he taught others how to succeed.

     Surrounded by the titled of Europe, he talked upon his favorite subject, breeding, with earnest yet playful enthusiasm, there utterly indifferent to vulgar traditional prejudices, he enumerated those axioms which must be the cardinal rules of the improvers of live stock. He chose the animals of the form and temperament which showed signs of producing the most fat and muscle, declaring that in an ox all was useless that was not beef, that he sought by pairing the best specimens, to make the shoulders comparatively little, the hind quarters large, to produce a body truly circular, with as short legs as possible, upon the plain principle that the value lies in the barrel and not in the legs, and to secure a small head small neck and small bones.

        As few things escaped his acute eye he remarked that quick fattening depended much upon amiability of disposition, and he brought his bulls by gentleness to be as docile as dogs.

. . .  But fine boned animals were not in fashion when Bakewell commenced his career, and to the majority of people it seemed a step backwards to prefer well made dwarfs to uncouth giants.

 . . . In 1798 the Little Smithfield Club was established for exhibiting fat stock at Christmas time in competition for prizes, with a specification of the food on which each animal had been kept. This Society has rendered essential service by making known the best kind of food, and by educating graziers and butchers in a knowledge of the best form of animal. 

      In 1806, in defiance of Mr Coke's toast, "Small in size and great in value," a prize was given to the tallest ox. In 1856 a little ox of the Devon breed of an egg like shape, which is the modern beau ideal, gained the Smithfield gold medal in competition with gigantic Short Horns, and Herefords of Elephantine proportions.  In 1855 a large animal of Sir Harry Verney's was passed over without even the compliment of a commendation -- because he carried on his carcass too much offal and more threepenny than nine penny beef."

(Note: Reprint of J.West 2007 topic)