Saturday, June 30, 2018

Longhorn Landscape

My neighbor, a man who has reached that life era where one has fully cast aside any concern for societal approval or disapproval (of which I approve and concur), was bound and determined this summer to find someone to put Longhorn cattle on our adjacent pastures.  Ding and Dong, our omnipresent donkeys, were initially another one of his compulsions, although now they are a regular stop on the neighborhood sight-seeing tours and a joy to others; several neighbors come by daily to bring them apples and talk to them.  I suspect the Longhorns will eventually just be another stop on the tour of the eccentric mini-ranches at the edge of town.  They already seem to be the focus of a few extra slow-moving cars on our road each weekend.

Texas Longhorn(s), as the breed is properly known, are descendants of the first cattle brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus and Spanish colonists.  Having learned and repeated that, ProfessorRoush is not even going to contemplate how politically incorrect some might regard that sentence.  It's history, live with it.  Longhorns are extremely suited to drought conditions, and thus have some advantages here over the Angus and other European crossbreeds common to the Flint Hills.    I suspect the matronly horns of several of the cows in this picture are also quite useful to protect their calves from the packs of coyotes that run this area of the Flint Hills every night.

It is probably just an aspect of my academic streak, but I was fascinated to learn that the Texas Longhorn was almost extinct in the late 1920's, saved by the US Forest Service's establishment of a remnant herd in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma.  Just like the buffalo, their lease on life has been revised by the increased desire for leaner beef by fickle humans, and by these species ability to thrive in the Plains without man's intervention.  Just like the Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) blooming profusely despite this summer's drought in the foreground of the middle photo, above, these Longhorns are doing fine without any worry from me.  In fact, the two, Longhorns and Butterfly Weed, seem to belong together in my greater landscape, don't you think?   

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