Invasion of the Body Snatchers
This 15-foot 3-inch Burmese Python was caught and killed March 21, 2012 in Picayune State Forest, Florida.
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Information on working terriers, dogs, natural history, hunting, and the environment, with occasional political commentary as I see fit. This web log is associated with the Terrierman.com web site. Please see this web site for more information on working terriers, or to order the book.
The United Kennel Club, Inc., is first and foremost a worldwide registry of purebred dogs, but we feel our moral duty to the canine world goes beyond maintaining data. We are alarmed by the paths of exaggeration that many breeds have taken, all of which directly affect the health, function and performance of those breeds. It is an elemental fact that these breed changes have developed unchecked as a result of fads and fancies, as well as a lack of accountability on the part of breeders, owners and judges.
UKC feels something must be done to address this problem, and we are willing to do our part, hoping the canine world will follow suit. Toward that end, we have decided to revise all of our breed standards to reflect that goal. Breed standards are viewed as a blueprint to which dogs are to be bred. UKC believes that breed standards are more than that, and we will be including directives to breeders, judges and owners.
All of our breed standards will now include the following introductory statement: “The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges. Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated. Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.”
In addition, each breed standard will be updated to include problems specific to that breed in order to clarify the direction to be taken when they are encountered.
The UKC is certainly better poised to lead in the world of dogs than the AKC is -- they are not quite as encumbered with the yoke of sniffing social pretensions as the AKC, and their members are more likely to value the work of dogs, and not just the ribbons. That said, leadership starts with action.
The good news is that the decision to engage in action sits squarely on the shoulders of one person, Wayne Cavanaugh, who owns the UKC (a for-profit company) outright. Cavanaugh is a former AKC Vice President and is said to be smart and charming. But he is also, without a doubt, a pretty good businessman. Would dropping English Bulldogs from the registry or promoting performance cross-breeds be a good business decision? Would deviating in any substantive way from AKC and Kennel Club breed standards and closed-registry tradition mean a steep and marked decline in UKC dual-registered dogs? You see, things are not simple and straight if you are running a business -- and all canine registries, whether they are for-profit or are "non-profit" are businesses.
So will the UKC lead? Time will tell, and we shall see.
|Black Sunday, 1935.|
He began with the charts, the maps, the stories of what soil conservation could do, and a report on Black Sunday. The senators listened, expressions of boredom on the faces of some. An aide whispered into Big Hugh's ear. "It's coming."
Bennett told how he learned about terracing at an early age, about how the old ground on his daddy's place in North Carolina was held in place by a simple method that most country farmers learned when they were young. And did he mention—yes, again—that an inch of topsoil can blow away in an hour, but it takes a thousand years to restore it? Think about that equation. A senator who had been gazing out the window interrupted Bennett. "It's getting dark outside."
The senators went to the window. Early afternoon in mid-April, and it was getting dark. The sun over the Senate Office Building vanished. The air took on a copper hue as light filtered through the flurry of dust. For the second time in two years, soil from the southern plains fell on the capital. This time it seemed to take its cue from Hugh Bennett. The weather bureau said it had originated in No Man's Land. "This, gentlemen, is what I'm talking about," said Bennett. "There goes Oklahoma." Within a day, Bennett had his money and a permanent agency to restore and sustain the health of the soil. When Congress passed the Soil Conservation Act, it marked the first time any nation had created such a unit.
To force prices up enough for farmers to make a living, Roosevelt had the government buy surplus corn, beans, and flour, and distribute it to the needy.
Over six million pigs were slaughtered, and the meat given to relief organizations.
Crops were plowed into the ground — like slitting your wrist, to some farmers. In the South, when horses were first directed to the fields to rip out cotton, they balked. Next year, the government would ask cattlemen and wheat growers to reduce supply in return for cash. Hoover had been leery of meddling with the mechanics of the free market. Under Roosevelt, the government was the market. The Agricultural Adjustment Act created the framework, and the Civilian Conservation Corps drummed up the foot soldiers. They would try to stitch the land back together. Build dams, bridges. Restore forests. Keep water from running away. Build trails in the mountains, roads on the prairie, lakes and ponds.
In May, Roosevelt signed a bill giving two hundred million dollars to help farmers facing foreclosure. Now, before some nester's land could be taken to satisfy a bank loan, there was a place of last resort.
|Jack Rabbit Hunt, Mead, Kansas, about 1919|
Rabbits had the run of the land, crowding fields, yards, streets. They were an easy source of food, but they also took away food, gnawing en masse in places where some farmers still hoped to raise a crop. People saw the rabbits as a scourge, a perpetual motion of mastication, indifferent to the human alterations that were blowing away.
Rabbit drive in the Antelope Valley, California, 1910.
"BIG RABBIT DRIVE SUNDAY—BRING CLUBS"
In the pages of the Texan, John McCarty thought it was time to get rid of the big-eared menaces. People gathered in a fenced field at the edge of Dalhart, about two thousand folks armed with baseball bats and clubs. The atmosphere was festive, many people drinking corn whiskey from jugs. At last, they were about to do something, striking a blow against this run of freakish nature. They spread to the edge of the fenced section, forming a perimeter, then moved toward the center, herding rabbits inward to a staked enclosure.
As the human noose tightened, rabbits hopped around madly, sniffing the air, stumbling over each other. The clubs smashed heads. The bats crushed rib cages. Blood splattered, teeth were knocked out, hair was matted and reddened. The rabbits panicked, screamed. It took most of an afternoon to crush several thousand rabbits. Their bodies were left in a bloodied heap at the center of the field. Somebody strung up a few hundred of them and took a picture.
The rabbit drives caught on and became a weekly event in some places. In a single square mile section, people could kill up to six thousand rabbits in an afternoon. It seemed a shame to let all those dead rabbits go to waste when so many people were hungry in the cities. After one drive, in Hooker, Oklahoma, people shipped off two thousand rabbits as surplus meat. But it was hard to keep the meat from spoiling, and the logistics of butchering them proved too much. The rabbits were left to buzzards and insects or shoveled into pits and buried.
Jack Rabbit Hunt Near Hoxie, Kansas, ~1910. Click to enlarge and read sign.
|Oklahoma sod house of the type my grandfather was born in, 1900.|
Without them [the German Russians], it is possible that wheat never would have been planted on the dry side of the plains. For when they boarded ships for America, the Germans from Russia carried with them seeds of turkey red -- a hard winter wheat -- and incidental thistle sewn into the pockets of their vests. It meant survival, an heirloom packet worth more than currency.
.. Turkey red, short-stemmed and resistant to cold and drought, took so well to the land beyond the ninety-eighth meridian that agronomists were forced to rethink the predominant view that the Great American Desert was unsuited for agriculture. In Russia, it was the crop that allowed the Germans to move out of the valleys and onto the higher, drier farming ground of the steppe. The thistle came by accident, but it grew so fast it soon owned the West. In the Old World, thistle was called perekati-pole, which meant "roll-across-the-field." In America, it was known as tumbleweed.
... [N]o group of people took a more dramatic leap in lifestyle or prosperity, in such a short time, than wheat farmers on the Great Plains. In less than ten years, they went from subsistence living to small business-class wealth, from working a few hard acres with horses and hand tools to being masters of wheat estates, directing harvests with wondrous new machines, at a profit margin in some cases that was ten times the cost of production.
In 1910, the price of wheat stood at eighty cents a bushel, good enough for anyone who had outwitted a few dry years to make enough money to get through another year and even put something away. Five years later, with world grain supplies pinched by the Great War, the price had more than doubled.
Mules pull a combine, 1920 American plains.
Farmers increased production by 50 percent. When the Turkish navy blocked the Dardenelles, they did a favor for dryland wheat farmers that no one could have imagined. Europe had relied on Russia for export grain. With Russian shipments blocked, the United States stepped in, and issued a proclamation to the plains: plant more wheat to win the war. And for the first time, the government guaranteed the price, at two dollars a bushel, through the war, backed by the wartime food administrator, a multimillionaire public servant named Herbert Hoover. Wheat was no longer a staple of a small family farmer but a commodity with a price guarantee and a global market.
In 1917, about forty-five million acres of wheat were harvested nationwide. In 1919, over seventy-five million acres were put into production — up nearly 70 percent.
When the native sod of the Great Plains was in place, it did not matter if people looked twice at a piece of ground. Wind blew twenty, thirty, forty miles an hour, as always. Droughts came and went. Prairie fires, many of them started deliberately by Indians or cowboys trying to scare nesters off, took a great gulp of grass in a few days. Hailstorms pounded the land. Blue northers froze it so hard it was like broken glass to walk on.
Through all of the seasonal tempests, man was inconsequential. As long as the weave of grass was stitched to the land, the prairie would flourish in dry years and wet. The grass could look brown and dead, but beneath the surface, the roots held the soil in place; it was alive and dormant. The short grass, buffalo and blue grama, had evolved as the perfect fit for the sandy loam of the arid zone. It could hold moisture a foot or more below ground level even during summer droughts, when hot winds robbed the surface of all water-bearing life. In turn, the grass nurtured pin-tailed grouse, prairie chickens, cranes, jackrabbits, snakes, and other creatures that got their water from foraging on the native turf.
Through the driest years, the web of life held. When a farmer tore out the sod and then walked away, leaving the land naked, however, that barren patch posed a threat to neighbors. It could not revert to grass, because the roots were gone. It was empty, dead, and transient.
|Texas Duststorm, 1935.|
"For the sake of a lasting peace," General Sheridan told the Texas Legislature in 1875, the Anglos should "kill, skin and sell until the buffaloes are exterminated. Then your prairie can be covered with speckled cattle and the festive cowboy ... forerunner of an advanced civilization."
... Within a few years of the signing [of the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867], Anglo hunters invaded the treaty land. They killed bison by the millions, stockpiling hides and horns for a lucrative trade back east. Seven million pounds of bison tongues were shipped out of Dodge City, Kansas, in a single two-year period, 1872–1873, a time when one government agent estimated the killing at twenty-five million. Bones, bleaching in the sun in great piles at railroad terminals, were used for fertilizer, selling for up to ten dollars a ton. Among the gluttons for killing was a professional buffalo hunter named Tom Nixon, who said he had once killed 120 animals in forty minutes.
The last bison were killed within five years after the Comanche Nation was routed and moved off the Llano Estacado.
Just a few years earlier, there had been bison herds that covered fifty square miles. Bison were the Indians' commissary, and the remnants of the great southern herd had been run off the ground, every one of them, as a way to ensure that no Indian would ever wander the Texas Panhandle
|Wyoming, Bison and Elk|
So far, Turkey has had the highest prices at the pumps, charging upward of $12 a gallon, he adds, while prices in the U.S. are the lowest.
"Americans don't know how good they have it," he says of gas prices here.
Labels: coffee and provocation
Seven percent of the American public say the dog-on-car-roof story makes them more likely to vote for Mr. Romney, and a stunning 14 percent say this is a “humane” way to transport a dog.
Yes, that's what they said.
Labels: Politics and politicians
Now at Cruft's famous show down in London,.
They have Lakelands that aren't worth the name,
If you showed em a fox or an otter
They would fly for their lives without shame.
They're not built to creep or do battle,
But to sit on a chair in the house,
And they do say that one recent champion
Was chased down the road by a mouse!
Isle Royale National Park's gray wolves, one of the world's most closely monitored predator populations, are at their lowest ebb in more than a half-century and could die out within a few years, scientists said Friday.
Only nine wolves still wander the wilderness island chain in western Lake Superior and just one is known to be a female, raising doubts they'll bounce back from a recent free-fall unless people lend a hand... There were 24 wolves — roughly their long-term average number — as recently as 2009.... The only intact pack had six members. One wolf wandered alone, while a couple — including the only known female — staked out territory and apparently mated.
Labels: dog training