The Turtle by Odgen Nash

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Spring–time for the birds and the bees, and the turtles, too, apparently

Since the first time I read poetry by Ogden Nash in the fourth grade, I do believe he has been my favorite poet.  His irreverent style and creative use of words reflect my inner bard.  I introduced him to my children recently.  My youngest was required to memorize a poem for class, and the choices available were deplorable (no rhyme or meter, and boring content).  My kids were most impressed that I could rattle off this ditty after so many years.

 

The Turtle by Odgen Nash:

The turtle lives twixt plated decks

Which practically conceal its sex.

I think it clever of the turtle

In such a fix to be so fertile.

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“Firefox”–the Red Panda

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Red Panda, Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas. 2013.

The Red Panda (aka “firefox,” lesser panda or red bear-cat) is not related to the raccoon or the bear, although they used to be classified in those families.  These musteloids (related to otters, weasels and badgers) have been placed in their own family, the Ailuridae.  Although musteloids are considered small, carnivorous mammals, the Red Panda mainly consumes tender bamboo.  Two species of Red Pandas are found in southwest China and Nepal.  The numbers of these animals are diminishing in their native regions; they are considered a vulnerable species.  Due to this, zoos in North America have developed a Species Survival Program (or SSP), a studbook which tracks all matings of Red Pandas.

This Red Panda lives at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas.  We visited the zoo in March of 2013.  Although it was chilly for us humans, I think the panda seemed right at home.

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Sympathy by Briton Rivière

Sympathy by Briton Riviere

Sympathy by Briton Riviere

One of my favorite artists, Briton Riviere was a British artist from a family of acclaimed artists.  After he became a regular contributor to Royal Academy exhibitions, he discovered a passion for painting animals.  He has a wonderful way of showing the animals’ expressions.  Riviere’s paintings make me smile and sigh.

Biodiversity & Endangered German Cattle Breeds

A list of endangered German cattle breeds.

A list of endangered German cattle breeds.

Historically, there has been a great deal of biodiversity in German cattle.  The greatest movement of cattle occurred with trade and migration.  Each valley and mountain settlement would have their own bloodlines, specifically chosen to thrive in the climate and forage in their regions.  As well, farmers developed beef, dairy and dual-purpose breeds; Germany has very high standards for record-keeping and production. Unfortunately, many of these breeds are endangered or are extinct. There has been an effort to preserve these breeds; the Heck breed was a Nazi effort to restore the extinct aurochs (the last of which died out in Poland in 1627).

When looking at the breed names of cattle (or rinder), they are referred to as rind or vieh.  As far as I can understand, the rind would be more specifically a beef breed, where cattle in general are referred to as vieh.  Many breeds refer to color–so a red cow is Rotvieh, a brown cow is Braunvieh (specifically the Brown Swiss), and a yellow cow is a Gelbvieh (also common in the U.S.).  Fleckvieh are spotted cows. There are also Neider- and Hohen- breeds, or lowland and highland cattle.

These were cows that we saw in the Landwassereck area of the Black Forest in Germany.  The pasture was temporary, as the fencing was electric hot wire.  The cattle must be frequently handled as they were pretty mellow and didn’t mind my picture-taking.  But who could blame them–the view is stunning!

Cattle at Hohengasthaus Landwasssereck, 2007.

Cattle at Hohengasthaus Landwasssereck, 2007.

Cattle resting.

Cattle resting.

Cattle outside the gasthaus.

Cattle outside the gasthaus.

Cattle in the Black Forest, 2007.

Cattle in the Black Forest, 2007.

 

Giant Leopard Moths

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Two Giant Leopard Moths (the second one is hiding underneath the rail)

In June 2013 I encountered these lovely creatures resting on my deck. (Or maybe I interrupted a personal moment?) The Giant Leopard Moth ranges from Canada to Mexico in the eastern US.  They prefer forest-type habitat where the caterpillars (a wooly-worm type) can find plenty to eat. Browsing the web I discovered that these moths make good pets–really?  Or maybe just good science projects where you can watch a caterpillar develop into a chrysalis and a moth.  Although they are supposed to be nocturnal, these were obviously out during the day.  Happy me!