Thursday, January 20, 2022

Feeding the Downtown Waterfowl

It’s going to be bitterly cold tomorrow, so I stopped by the downtown creek to slip a little cracked corn to the ducks.  

The avian jungle drums must have fired up, as what started with four ducks ended with another half a dozen ducks flying in, to be joined by half a dozen Canada Geese winging in from way up high. Nice!

A Big Deer Herd

I went to a nearby “honey hole” along the flood plain of the Monocacy River, and found a herd of about 30 deer in the snow.  I couldn’t get any closer without busting them, but I’ll set up a game camera or two tomorrow to see if a coyote or two might show up.

Pat Lent: The First Movement in US Terrier Work

Teddy Moritz writes
to tell me that Patricia Adams Lent died November 16th, at the age of 95, at the Randolph, Vermont home of son and daughter-in-law, Jeffrey and Marion Lent. Her obituary can be read here.

For all practical purposes, the story of American terrier work begins in 1971 with Patricia Adams Lent, who founded the American Working Terrier Association in 1971 to promote working terriers and dachshunds, and who wrote a book entitled "Sport with Terriers" (1973).

I have written about Pat Lent's contributions to American terrier work before (see
Origins, Schisms, and the True Church of Work) and given a brief history of the American Working Terrier Association as well (see A Brief History of AWTA

Back in 2006, I also wrote a go-to-ground history and instruction sheet that mentioned Pat Lent's contribution to American terrier work (see Uncorking a Bottle of Working Terrier).

Suffice it to say that without Pat Lent, there might not have been a Jack Russell Terrier Club of America, as the JRTCA more or less copied the American Working Terrier Association's go-to-ground format.

God speed Ms. Lent, and thanks for the work on behalf of the dogs.

Rien Poortvliet: A Stroke of Genius

The Christian Science Monitor, one of our finest small papers, once wrote that "[Rien Poortvliet's] painting is as skilled and accomplished as any painter, certainly any illustrator in the world today."

That was not an exaggeration.

Poortvliet produced a unique body of truly excellent art that shows a love of land, wildlife, dogs, people and history. He also leaves behind a small museum dedicated to his work.

Poortvliet was entirely self-taught -- a self-conscience act which ensured that his his style was entirely his. Born August 7, 1935, Poortvliet was the son of a Dutch plasterer and began his artistic career as a graphics artist for magazines. His most famous (though certainly not his best!) work is a book called ''Gnomes'' which continues to sell well. Poortvliet was always somewhat flummoxed by the fact that The New York Times Best Seller List included the book in the "non-fiction" category. ''Why?'' he asked, ''Do they think there really are gnomes?''

Poortvliet spent two years in the Dutch navy and, as soon as he was old enough, he visited America. "What I learned about America, was that I wanted to go home."

Home was Soest, a village 30 miles southeast of Amsterdam where he lived with his wife, Corrie Bouman, and their collection of rabbits, dogs, cats, chickens, and farm stock.

Poortvliet worked exclusively in water color -- a medium that allowed him to produce fine works at great speed and with the depth of color and texture needed to capture fur, feather, wood, dirt, and the grinding cogs of history. "Sometimes I work with much water," he said. "Sometimes with a very dry brush. Sometimes with a little spit."

Poortvliet's eye for detail and his intuitive understanding of wildlife, dogs and landscape was without parallel, but he was somewhat deficient at observing the modern world. "I can paint for you any animal you want, including humans," he said. "I can paint an elephant from underneath, as if it were walking on a plate of glass above us. I have never seen this, but I can paint it. But, if you ask me to paint the dashboard of my Volkswagen, I would have to go out and look at it in the yard."

The remarkable Rien Poortvliet died in 1995, but his magnificent art lives on, a gift to us all. Along with his book on dogs, I recommend his book, The Living Forest: A World of Animals available from or

To see more art from Rien Poortvleit, see >> HERE.

Animal Science on the Edge

A Maryland man
has received a kidney from a genetically modified pig

The pig had been gene-editing to remove a sugar in its cells that is responsible for hyper-fast organ rejection. 

The patient, David Bennett Sr, is a 57-year old handyman who was convicted in 1988 of stabbing a man seven times, leaving him paralyzed. Edward Shumaker, the stabbing victim, spent the next 19 years in a wheelchair before he had a stroke in 2005 and died two years later — one week before his 41st birthday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Weights and Measures

My two Jack Russells could not be more morphologically different, and so I was interested to see how "off" this online weight calculator would be.  

Answer:  it was dead on.  Below are the weights it calculated for them at 22 weeks 

Oiling the Boots

So, while oiling my boots, I wondered what mink-oil was **really** made out of. 

Answer: mink fat.  

Now I’m afraid to google “naugahyde”.

I Salute Our Baboon Overlords

Double leg amputee signalman James Wide, purchased a Chacma Baboon  and trained him to push his wheelchair and to operate the railway's signals under supervision.  The Baboon, named Jack, never made a mistake in 9 years of employment, and the railroad paid him 20 cents a day and a bottle of beer a week.

How did James “Jumper” Wide lose his legs?  It seems he was famous for jumping between rail cars until that day he slipped and a train cut off both legs. That’s a mistake the Baboon never made.

Support the Rabid

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Hunting the Foreigners

Foreign fauna provides considerable sport in the UK and across Europe.

Among the introductions to the U.K.:

  • The Brown or Norwegian Rat, which arrived around 1720.
  • The Grey Squirrel which arrived around 1870.
  • The Sika Deer which arrived around 1870.
  • The Chinese Muntjac Deer which arrived around 1940.
  • The Mink, which was released around 1950.
  • The Rabbit which was introduced by the Romans (or perhaps the Normans) around 1000.
  • Fallow Deer which were introduced by the Normans around 1200.
  • The Muskrat which was introduced around 1927.
  • The Red-necked Wallaby which was introduced around 1940 (and is uncommon)
  • The Coypu or Nutria, which was introduced around 1944 and wiped out by 1988.

In the U.S., most of the animals we commonly hunt and fish are native, with the exception of pheasants, some species of grouse, and brown trout.

The brown or "Norwegian" rat provides terrier sport for some folks, as does the nutria in areas where better quarry is scarce on the ground.

The raccoon can be thought of as a recently introduced species west of Ohio, and north of the Southern Great Lakes.

Many of our most common urban birds are foreign, including starlings, english sparrows, and the common pigeon (aka the Rock Dove).

Our hedgerow are choked with foreign invasive plant species, such as honeysuckle, kudzu and, of course, multiflora rose. This last plant was widely planted after the Great Depression in order to slow erosion in the South, but it also naturalized from abandoned gardens (multiflora rose is the root stock that most of our ornamental roses are grafted on to).

The dandelion is an immigrant ("dent de lion" means "teeth of the lion" and refers to the serrated edges of the leaves) as is Tumble Weed (aka Russian thistle) and, of course, the wild horse and mule.

Our forests, of course, have been decimated by invasive species from the chestnut blight which wiped out our most magnificent Eastern timber and mast-food tree, to dogwood blight which is now doing the same to our most beautiful native flowering tree.

The gypsy moth was introduced to this country by a Frenchman trying to start a silkworm industry, while the newly introduced ash borer beetle may decimate one of our very best sources of clear hardwood.

All in all, relatively few introduced mammals have "made it" in America, as compared to the U.K., and many of the plants, bugs, birds and pestilents that have made it over here have had an entirely negative impact.

Hawk Watching

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

Happy Birthday to A.A. Milne (1882)


Top map: the world centered on New Zealand. Can you find where you live? Does it now seem less important?

Bottom map:  the world in actual proportion, with an orientation as right as any other. Can you find where you live? Does it now seem less important?

People Thought I Was Over-Reacting

Signs I made for 2017 inauguration protest. A thank you to greatness on one side, and a warning and instruction sheet on the other.

Hawk and Deer In One Shot

Where You Stand Depends On Where You Sit

Monday, January 17, 2022

White Tail Deer In the Snow

White Tail Deer in late afternoon. It was about 28 degrees with 30 mph winds, and I was barehanded. This herd of 7-8 deer was in and out of brushy thickets.

Weather and Covid On the Shelves

Between panic buying from snow, delivery stoppage from ice and snow, and driver and store personnel out from Covid, the grocery stores shelves are very unevenly stocked.  Cases are loaded with cut and ground meat, but thin on some fruits and vegetables, and empty or nearly empty of lunch meat, eggs, and bread. Very unusual, and I think likely due to individual trucks and suppliers not showing up.  Things will be back to normal in a week.