A Country Rag--Get Away Tales

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A Country Rag
Get Away Tales

'Rosemary' watercolor by Vera Tracy, Jonesborough TN
Graphic above: Rosemary, watercolor by Vera Tracy, Jonesborough TN


"Preservation Efforts Benefit All"

by Dr. Frances Lamberts

The “Woodpecker” film recently shown at East Tennessee State University captured well the joyous excitement in the whole country when traces of a bird deemed extinct (Ivory-billed woodpecker) sug-gested its possible survival in a forest in Arkansas.

Through broadly based efforts in 2010, proclaimed as the “Year of Biodiversity” by the United Nations, biological researchers have been able to discover many “new” species and rediscover some thought lost long ago.

Among the latter were six frogs in a remnant forest patch in Haiti, a country which has lost to cutting almost all (99 percent) of its original forest. One hundred years ago, Theodore Roosevelt expressed hope in the fact that scientists were beginning to study, and “enlightened men and women here and there” to take action toward preserving wild animals and plants.

Several reports in a January issue of Science this year described inspiring and encouraging work, ongoing in several countries, toward this end. One of the world’s most endangered primates is making a stand -- in two families and four loners totaling only 22 members in all -- on Hainan in southern China.

The island having been covered in tropical forest in earlier times, most of that was lost to beach resorts and rubber plantations since the 1960s, and villagers hunted the gibbons for use of their body parts in traditional medicine.

This extremely shy, arboreal ape had retreated to ever higher altitudes as the lowland forests disappeared.

Yet, its main food trees were mostly in the latter, forcing it to roam very far for forage, thus risking human encounters.

In the early 1990s, the Chinese authorities, “realizing that something precious was about to be lost” established the forest reserve where it survives.

Local people were trained to collect seeds from fallen fruits of forage trees, of which 80,000 were since planted.

Four pairs of rangers monitor the animals. With three females being pregnant now, the protection measures apparently effective and enough food accessible, the researchers state a cautious hope in this primate’s survival prospect.

At a university-based aviary and research facility in Western Ontario, Canadian and U.S. researchers make warblers and other migratory birds “go the distance.” With the aid of a wind tunnel in which atmospheric features such as temperature, humidity and barometric pressure can be controlled, they are measuring the birds’ energy consumption and other physiological functions during long times aloft.

With better understanding of their essential fuel needs, the scientists hope, conservation efforts for migratory birds can be more effective.

A Cornell University scientist studied the “parliamentary-debate” behavior when honey bees are faced with an existential problem, needing to find another home when a new queen has been raised in the hive.

The decision to swarm, it turns out, is thoroughly fact-based, scout bees’ information on potential homes being much “discussed” over days, plans revised and agreement then reached, communally and cooperatively, triggering a cohesive exodus and relocation.

From “Honey Bee Democracy,” one might say, our own parliamentarians have a lot to learn.

"When Grandma was Green"

by Kim Upton (aka Hillbilly Mystic)

As I child I grew up in a very small farming community. There were party-line phones, fresh milk from the local dairy and “old-fashioned” church picnics. If you had something that wasn’t being used, you passed it on to the next family. Very little went to waste, and many things were reused until they fell apart.
The older women in the community taught me the skills I have today. Many times they would share wonderful stories of survival – living through the great depression, how their “Ma” grew up in a cabin down the holler, or what they did to make sure their Grandkids went to college.
That was back when Grandmas were Green. As odd as it may sound, many of our recent ancestors were the forerunners of the green movement you see today. How did they do it? What made them so “green,” anyway? Living thrifty, that’s how! If you planned on surviving, as many of them did, you had to change the way you viewed life. Everything had a use. The morning breakfast was salvaged for snacks and lunchboxes, and much of what you had eaten came from the backyard garden. New items were never purchased unless you couldn’t make it yourself, or find someone who had one to borrow.
Now follow me to modern times. We are learning that if we are to help the Earth and the living beings upon it, we have to make some serious changes. It is important for us to use less and conserve more. Along with this, we are facing economic issues that are preventing many families from acquiring the basic needs for survival.
To me this is the best time to bring natural and thrifty together. They are truly in the same vein, and I feel the two make very good partners.
For example, here are some thrifty tips from my childhood that still pertain to modern times.
  • Collecting water from your bath/brushing teeth/washing dishes to water indoor and outdoor plants.
  • Reusing containers (buckets, glass jars, etc.)
  • Conserving energy by using less electricity.
If you are thinking of moving to a greener lifestyle, begin your search with those who live a thrifty lifestyle. Many times you will find those folks are your best source of information, and can often get you started on the path being naturally thrifty!

(Kim Upton is a freelance writer and artist livin’ on a small plot of land in Kentucky. She is currently working on grants to open a resource center for kids, so they can learn about the old ways of farming. When not working, you can find Kim sitting on her back porch talking to the hummingbirds and drinking ice tea. You are always invited over if you are ever in the area. More information can be found at Green Being Farm.)

Up-To-Date Archives -- A Country Rag Index

click for Jacquie Lawson sampler Christmas cards

click for Jacquie Lawson sampler Christmas cards

text c. Frances Lamberts, Kimberly Upton; graphics c.Jeannette Harris and A Country Rag, Inc., December 2013. Jonesborough TN. All rights reserved.

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