September 2015

Old Hickory

Hickory nuts are dropping in the woods and in the hedgerows.  The pigs are pleased.  They crush the shells with their molars and then sort the nut meat from the shell with their tongues, spitting out the fragments.  The noise from the cracking shells sounds like it ought to be painful, but the pigs obviously don’t …

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Translating Cow

The English language has a history of a highly specialized vocabulary for animals.  We have words for specific types of animals (“herd”, “flock”, “pride”, or “gaggle”).  We have words that differentiate by gender (“buck” vs “doe” or “dog” vs “bitch”).  We have words to indicate age (“colt”, “kit”, or “kid”) and general body condition (“nag” …

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Grazing Grapes

Cattle readily eat wild grape (fox grapes, Vitis labrusca) leaves and vines any time the plants are green, but as the grapes start to ripen they seem especially motivated.  Only the vines growing six feet above ground remain unscathed.  While they aren’t as resourceful as goats, who manage to gain extra reach by standing on their back legs …

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