Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

PART IV. OUR DOMESTIC ANIMALS.

THE FARM ANIMALS' FAMILY TREE.

Science has some wonderful stories to tell of our farm animals and their relationships. Men who have studied these things say that the pigs, the oxen, and the sheep are all distant relatives. Other members of the same family are hippopotami, camels, deer, giraffes, and goats. All these animals belong to the family of "artiodactyla." The family gets its name from the Greek language, in which the word means " even-toed." That is, they all have an even number of toes, which is the feature in which the scientists find the family resemblance, just as a boy's friends find a family resemblance in his eyes, or his hair, or his nose.

As for the horse, he must be lonely, indeed, because he has no relatives about the farm at all. In fact, the family that the horse belongs to is rather dying out, for the only animals he can claim any kinship to nowadays are the tapirs and the rhinoceri. The horse's last name is "perissodactylon," or odd-toed. He started as a little beast, no bigger than a fox, with five toes on each front foot and three toes on each rear foot. Gradually the toes grew one into the other till the horse has just one on each foot, which we call his "hoof."

Of all the many thousand kinds of animals known to science, only about CO can be truly domestic; and by this is meant animals which can be tamed and bred in captivity, and will live under civilized conditions. While scientists say that the domestic animals of the present are not as intelligent as the wild creatures which were their ancestors, they also add that man would never have become civilized had it not been for such beasts as the horse, the ox, and the sheep. As an example, the Indians of the plains in the country are mentioned. Originally they were a feeble race, hunting game as best they were able, on foot and with dogs. Then the white man brought the horse into the country, and as soon as the Indian likewise gained mastery of that animal he became a dangerous antagonist to the settler. More than this, he was able to live better, as well as fight better, with the aid of the horse.

We call the age in which we live the age of the machine, the era of steel; but even so, in this, the most advanced country in the world, the amount of power developed by draft animals on the farms of the United States exceeds the amount of power developed by machines in all our factories of every kind. Furthermore, one of the greatest industries in the country—that of meat packing—depends directly upon the farmer's best friends, his domesticated animals. Such is the importance of the creatures you see about you, in barnyard, pasture, fold, and pen.

HOW MAN MADE THE ANIMALS TO HELP HIM.

It was not until man learned to provide a home and to care for his family that he showed himself to be superior to the beast. When home life began, family ties were strengthened, love for the different members of his family increased, and all the finer attributes began to develop.

Man needed helpers in his struggle with the outside world, and so did the animals of the forest. Man had wisdom and foresight: animals had food and physical strength. Man needed the animals, and they needed man. But before man learned the value of different animals it is quite probable that he used them only for food. The dog was probably used first as a food, but it aided man in capturing other animals, therefore it gradually ceased to be used as a food, and instead became an important means of securing food. The horse and the camel also were probably used for food at first; but, on account of their superior strength, they became beasts of burden and aided in securing food for man and in fighting man's enemies. The sheep, the goat, and the cow were also domesticated, to be used as a food in time of need. They were of triple value. The milk was a wholesome food, and could be preserved in the form of butter and cheese; their hair or hides could be converted into clothing, and they could be used, like the horse, as a beast of burden. The fowls of the air were likewise domesticated. The hen, the goose, the duck, the turkey, the pigeon, and the peacock gave their eggs for food and their feathers for bedding and even for clothing. Man did not stop here. He went into the forest and caught the wild hog, tamed him, and improved the quality of his flesh until it has become a very important food.

Thus man rose superior to the beast of the forest and the fowls of the air. They contributed to his needs, but he in turn was obliged to provide food for them in order that they might be of more value to him. It was learned that the value of domestic animals is determined by the care that man takes of them. In providing food for them it was discovered that the hard cereals made the best food for himself and his domestic animals, and cereals became, therefore, the chief food of both man and beast.

THE COW.

Did you ever stop to think how much we are indebted to the cow? People who lived two or three thousand years ago seemed to have had a higher appreciation of the value of this animal than we have. The word "cattle" means wealth, and the English word "chattel," derived from "cattle," is still a reminder to us that we have valuable property in this animal.

It is believed by many that the cow was the first of the wild animals to be domesticated, and that she has contributed more to the development of our civilization than any other animal. In early days she was considered so valuable that a man's wealth was measured by the number and size of his herds. Abraham was rich in cattle, and before the real beginning of agriculture the chief occupation of man was tending and improving his flock.

So valuable has this animal been to the human race that it was considered sacred by many early races, chief of which were the Egyptians and Hindus. Cattle was the chief medium of exchange by early civilized tribes, and it is said that the first coin of the Greeks had an ox stamped on it. To kill needlessly or mistreat cattle of any kind was considered a crime by the Greeks, Hebrews, Egyptians, and Hindus.

The cowT is just as valuable to us as she was to the ancients who held her in such high esteem. She gives us milk, butter, cheese, and her flesh for food, and without it man could hardly live. She gives us her hide for clothing, and without it we should be sorely in need, and we should have to go back to the wooden shoes that very poor people have worn in different ages. She gives us fertilizer for our crops, and if this plant food should be suddenly taken away the farmers' fields would degenerate. She gives us her bones for buttons with which to fasten our clothes. Her hair is used in making furniture and many other useful articles. She not only gives us all these things, but she gives us power to pull our carts and plows; in ancient times this was almost the only power used by some peoples in cultivating their land.

The cow is used for three things—for beef, for milk, and for butter and cheese. For the past 200 years, and especially for the past SO years, man has studied the influence of different kinds of food on the cow and has employed the knowledge gained in breeding animals suited to his several needs. As a result, we have three distinct breeds of cattle—one that gives an abundance of milk, one that gives milk especially rich in butter, and the third, called the beef cow, most of whose food is converted into flesh which we use for beef.

We are indebted more to the British Isles and to Holland for our unproved cattle than to any other country. It is said that the Romans, when they conquered Britain, brought cattle to England. The animals of Eome were mixed with the native breed, and from this crossbreeding has come the excellent stock of to-day. The most noted cattle that we have are the following:

The Jersey, brought over in 1818,. has attained the widest reputation as a butter producer.

The Holstein, brought by the Dutch when they settled in the present State of New York, is noted for the quantity of milk it produces. It is said that as much as 10 gallons of milk a day have been taken from a single cow. Another breed noted especially for milk is the Guernsey.

The Shorthorn, imported from England about 1817, is the most widely distributed, and it is especially noted for its beef making. Another kind of beef cattle is the Hereford. These cows give very little milk, in fact, farmers raising them rarely find it worth while to milk them at all. But when these animals are properly cared for, they are fat and plump and almost square. Another one of the famous breeds of beef cattle is the Aberdeen Angus, or as it is sometimes called, the Polled Angus. This breed originated in Scotland and was brought to this country in 1873.

The systematic improvement of cattle by man began about the close of the eighteenth century. The greatest progress was made in Great Britain, and to Bobert Bakewell, of Leicestershire, who lived from 1725 to 1795, must be given the credit of producing such superior animals as to entitle him to the distinction of being called the father of modern cattle breeding.

KINDNESS TO ANIMALS.

Turn, turn the hasty foot aside.

Nor crush the helpless worm;
The frame thy wayward looks deride

Required a God to form.

The common Lord of all that move.

From whom thy being flowed.
A portion of His boundless love

On that poor worm bestowed.

The sun, the moon, the stars, He made

To all His creatures free;
And spreads o'er earth the grassy blade

For worms as well as thee.

Let them enjoy their day,

Their lowly bliss receive;
Oh! do not lightly take away

The life thou canst not give.

THE CALF PATH.

A cnlf walked home as good calves should

But made a trail all bent askew,

A crooked trail, as all calves do.

Since then three hundred years have fled.

And I infer the calf is dead.

But still he left behind his trail,

And thereby hangs my mortal tale.

The trail was taken up next day

By a lone dog that passed that way.

And then a wise bellwether sheep

Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep;

And drew the flock behind him, too,

As good bellwethers always do.

And from that day, o'er hill and glade

Through those old woods a path was made.

And many men wound in and out,

And dodged and turned and bent about,

And uttered words of righteous wrath

Because 'twas such a crooked path;

But still they followed—do not laugh—

The first migrations of that calf,

And through the winding wood way stalked.

Because he wobbled when he walked.

This forest path became a lane
That bent and turned and turned again;
This crooked lane became a road.
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles In one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet.
The road became a village street;
And this, before men were aware,
A city's crowded thoroughfare.
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis.
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed the zigzag calf about.
And o'er his crooked journey went
The traflic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day;
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.

« AnteriorContinuar »