Before we jump headfirst into the earliest Christmas (ahem, holiday) season yet, allow me to indulge the autumnophiles with a fall picture: a stretching worm on a log, atop a pool of water refracting fallen leaves just at the moment of a raindrop. It really makes one reflect on the intricate details occurring all around us while we concern ourselves with such “grander” things. That worm’s getting by OK without all the hustle and bustle…
We endeavored to traverse the weald, and arrived in a region of isolation and unspoiled beauty, gratefully basking in seemingly ethereal splendor. Once among the lodgepole pine in the seclusion of ancient valleys, we reveled in the permanence of raw nature. It was a foreign sight, that of no intrusion of mankind, that from which a hand of verdancy embraced and enraptured all. This was a land with no falsehood or pretense, at once fragile and savage and powerful, with a visage that harked back to its upheaval and its sulfuric origins.
The picturesque landscapes afforded serenity, but also provided innumerable coverts which thwarted our attempts to observe the native species. It was not all futile, as we did witness myriad pronghorn, as well as chipmunks, ground squirrels, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, bison, grouse, an elk, a rabbit, a moose, and a bear – and possibly wolves. But none of these was as readily discernible as the native deer, which had become so accustomed to the visits of man that they were oft nearly underfoot. Naturally, these animals were ensconced in a variety of flora sorely unlike any from whence we came.
The harsh inclinations of the weather forbade us from prolonged reveries, but all is not lost. The visions of natural beauty will forever be ingrained within us, for us to conjure when the world apportions more than we can stand. Taken in its entirety, we were given a glimpse of God’s creation as it was intended, and that unadulterated view was intrinsically invaluable.
Today, we embarked on a journey of over 4,000 miles to visit some of the last remaining glaciers which were once prevalent in North America. Our excursion encompasses many diverse ecosystems and altitudes; on Saturday, I was below sea-level, and by tonight we’ll be over a mile above it. We are crossing the plains at present, impressed by the expansive and largely uninhabited region known as “Kansas.”
Rest assured, there will be reports of the flora and fauna present in Wyoming and Montana.
River otters may be cuter than beavers – that is of little debate. But in nature, function trumps form – and I have yet to see a river otter in person. Fortunately, from my recent time spent observing beavers in the wild, I can say that the traditional understanding of these large aquatic rodents is rather correct; id est, they are industrious lumberjacks with dull senses and portly physiques. But they do take time for recreation, and their speckled hides create dazzling shapes as they glide through the water.
The beaver is commended for being a familial creature, and for paying such regard to the state of its abode. Still, the potential environmental deterioration at the incisors of this beast is plainly evident. They enjoy felling trees for nutritional, decorative, and protective purposes, and they despise the sound of running water (I posit this is their main motivation for creating dams). They do provide some good entertainment though (videos are 720P, so go full-screen):
My beaver background comes from Red Dead Redemption, where the beasts lumber aimlessly near the shores and provide ample opportunity for skinning. I could have taken so many pelts this weekend…
Ofttimes when I am aimlessly ambling through the sanctity of the wood, as I am wont to do, I encounter the signs of beasts who dwell within the untrodden groves. Much less often am I fortuitous enough to strike upon these creatures themselves, and I have found myself supposing where the nocturnal beings find refuge from the midday sun. When I have, on occasion, spied such a milieu as would be conducive to the escape and regular attendance of such creatures, I have had my visions thwarted by mere vacuousness.
One can imagine how delighted I was, therefore, when upon a common afternoon stroll I spotted an animal bearing the singular markings indicative of Procyon lotor – the northern raccoon. He was foraging, whereupon my scent – and sight – caused him to retire into the confines of a hollowed tree. I pursued with aspirations of capturing him on film whilst he capered about, but my hopeful vigil saw only a visiting bird with curiosity of his own.
There would be no contentedness in leaving the bandit undisturbed without luring him from his shelter, so I endeavored to draw him forth with the presentation of berries and meat. This proved a futile effort, until I returned after evening had fallen and discovered the bounty put to use. I considered this to be a mildly successful gest, but it was not until the next day that I could grasp the implications bestowed by this chance meeting.
After twenty four hours had elapsed, I ventured back to the wood whence the beast had hid. My motive was the suspicion that the raccoon frequented the breach, or dwelt therein. It was with great joy that I again observed the matted gray fur tinged with white so faintly visible within the hollow, and I withdrew without harassing him. This development was a valuable one, for it marked the first time that I could, at my will, identify a specific location inhabited by an animal.
I have seen far grander sights; I am less than one year removed from witnessing a consortium of raccoons and an opossum meandering seemingly within my grasp, and I have sat for an hour in the company of wild deer. Still, I hold this newfound knowledge to a higher degree. It is as though God has opened more fully the verdant door of His natural creation, and in doing so has inspired me with its rare and delicate, fragile sights.
May I never look upon them lightly.
I’ve long been impressed with the computer-generated artwork of Ryan Bliss. His scenes can strikingly resemble reality. It took me many views of one of my favorite scenes of his before I made the connection with a photograph I had taken.
There’s no suggestion of impropriety here; his picture was created first, and I had no thoughts of it when I was taking photos in a field in 2009. It wasn’t until long after that I realized how inadvertently similar the two scenes were. The resemblance is a freak occurrence, but it also shows how talented an artist he is.
It takes a special gift to be able to conjure up scenes so near to those which naturally occur. Those who can do so should utilize their abilities as often as possible.
D. Magner has always had a penchant for that which is not categorical, exemplified by his random insertions and digressions. For this reason, the author sees fit to include a thorough appendix and an equally robust index. These closing areas are what shall be addressed herein, “closing the book” on Magner’s Farm and Stock Book and Complete Instructor.
The literature page contains an overview of each of the sections previously covered in this work. There are free, downloadable PDF files of the actual text for all sections, including those to be discussed here.
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? The argument could be made that woodchucks are perfectly capable of, yet averse to, chucking wood. In the event of a woodchuck’s woodchucking, the wood would be chucked by the woodchuck in moderation, since woodchucks undoubtedly adhere to the guidelines in Plato’s The Republic. The wood chucked by the woodchuck would not exceed the amount of wood that would be chucked by any creature commonly known for its slight adeptness at chucking wood. If a woodchuck would chuck wood, would the woodchuck chuck enough wood to equal the amount of wood chucked by a small woodchucking device? The answer, of course, is no.
Woodchucks choose not to chuck wood, not merely because of their lack of opposable thumbs and overall bulk, but also because of their design, suggesting that, even if a woodchuck could chuck wood, it would not. Woodchucks would much rather wander aimlessly through the woods, watching other creatures that are designed to chuck wood chuck wood. Just because woodchucks do not choose to chuck wood does not mean that the woodchucks’ wood chucking would not be a large amount of wood chucked by woodchucks. A woodchuck chucking wood is similar to an outstretched hand revealing many fingers; the woodchuck has chosen one finger (or path, if you will) that runs parallel to many other paths. Though the woodchucking woodchuck is confused, he can always stop chucking wood to achieve his true purpose.
modified from a philosophy class journal entry, 9-18-03
I’ve seen deer many times before, as I’m sure most people have. But I’d wager that few people – aside from hunters – who stumble upon them in their natural habitat are able to spend an hour observing their behavior. Most often, encounters are brief and result in the best view being that of the deer’s rear as it hops away.
Yesterday, I came across two baby white-tailed deer who were foraging carelessly, and though they initially ran a few yards away, they gradually became comfortable with my presence – most likely because I was downwind. The creatures were beautiful, taking time to chew until they were spooked and moved past me to a bed of pine straw below some larger trees. It was here that they alternately moved about eating and taking breaks to lie down and ruminate. At one point a squirrel even joined in, and the two species relied on each other as an alarm system.
Bugs were clearly bothering the animals, as their ears and tails were flicking constantly. On a couple of occasions, the deer used their hind limbs to scratch. It did occur to me that no adult deer would allow me to be as close as I was for so long a time, and I was soon proved correct. The young deer ran past me again to their approaching mother, and she stared right at me from a distance. She eventually made a noise, and the three ran to a safer distance where she could still survey me. She made another call and left; while one baby followed her, the other ran back toward me, to the pine area where the pair had rested before. It stood momentarily, then made a call of its own and ran off into the forest.
I hope the group reunited, and I hope I didn’t make them afraid to go back to that area. If they knew of my distaste for venison, perhaps they would be a bit more trusting. I even saw a turtle on my way out of the woods…It was a good day.
Once, two people found a pair of dragonflies that were in intimate contact, buzzing about. One person said to the other, “they’re mating,” to which the other replied, “I’m not so sure.” He noted that while one dragonfly was blue, the other was green, and it was possible that they were of different species. He also observed that there was an unlikely amount of noise being created; when mating, many bugs are relatively quiet, to avoid attracting predators. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, he pointed out that the only contact was the head of the green dragonfly firmly attached to the upper thorax of the blue dragonfly – in the least, an inefficient mating configuration.
Further investigation by the people revealed that the green dragonfly was indeed eating the blue dragonfly. One of the people separated the insects and wounds were clearly visible. The lesson, therefore, is threefold:
- Bugs eat each other.
- There is a thin line between sex and attempted murder.
- Sticking your nose in the business of others can be lifesaving.