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Monday, November 29, 2010

Forest, Farm and Wildlife, From the Perspective of 100 Years Ago (More or Less)


The forest is as beautiful as it is useful. The old fairy tales which spoke of it as a terrible place are wrong. No one can really know the forest without feeling the gentle influence of one of the kindliest and strongest parts of nature. From every point of view it is one of the most helpful friends of man. Perhaps no other natural agent has done so much for the human race and has been so recklessly used and so little understood.

- A Primer of Forestry, Part I—The Forest, by Gifford Pinchot (1900)

The grasses are of great importance in our agriculture.... A feature of the grasses which makes them valuable pasture plants is the location of the growing point of the leaf. This is near the base, so that the tip may be grazed or clipped off several times and the leaf still continue to grow. The forage grasses add variety to the rotation, supplying crops which may be used as meadows or pastures, or short-season crops such as millet, which may be used to occupy the land when an earlier-planted crop fails. The perennial varieties add a mass of vegetable matter to the soil. They thus improve its physical condition and their decay increases the yield of annual crops which follow. They also form a cover which prevents the loss of fertility by washing and other means of erosion.

- Field Crops (revised), by A. D. Wilson & C. W. Warburton (1912, 1918, 1923)

I have twenty-seven guns—and I have used them all. I stand condemned as having done more than my share toward extermination. But that does not lessen the fact that I have learned, and in learning I have come to believe that if boys and girls and men and women could be brought into the homes and lives of wild birds and animals as their homes are made and their lives are lived we would all understand at last that wherever a heart beats it is very much like our own in the final analysis of things.

- James Oliver Curwood, in his preface to Baree, Son of Kazan (orig. pub.1917)

4 comments:

Susan said...

Beautiful. I am eager to step into your shop and look these books in the eye.

Gerry said...

It seems that every generation discovers anew that it's always about the land. Everything else can be moved around or recreated somewhere else. I'm giving some thought to what I ought to be doing with my tiny little patch of ground.

P. J. Grath said...

My books are not shy. They love being touched, stared at and investigated!

P. J. Grath said...

It's surprising what can be done with a very small plot of land, Gerry. What hasn't yet happened in the present generation is for the general public to understand that the earth cannot be treated like a factory. We will have been very bad stewards if we strip this planet of topsoil and forests.