Sunday, April 10, 2011

If Spring Comes . . .

our forlorn "Hard Winter Shed" may make it through another year. Somewhere in the back country of Montana where the little barn's geometry mirrors the slopes and valleys of its surroundings.

Ancient White Park Cattle

This beef breed is listed as "critical" by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. However, today, dedicated breeders are working toward expanding its numbers and suitability for small operations that practice sustainable, low input management and prefer producing grassfed beef, such as Bar-B Ranch, Big Timber, MT.  Once a dual purpose breed of the British Isles, the Ancient White Park has followed a colorful pathway toward its North American history, including the Bronx Zoo in New York City and the King Ranch of Texas. 

Characteristics include the distinctive black nose. Hair coats may exhibit subtle blue or red "points" or tips. Oddly, blood-typing reveals it is most closely related to the Highland and Galloway breeds of the UK and not the other white British breeds, the British White or American White Park. 

Photographed in the Bitterroot Valley, Montana.

There are several associations and registries devoted to white-coated cattle from the British Isles. Origins are Ireland, Wales, and Great Britain over the centuries from Roman times. Development covers decades.

Breeders insist the different origins are quite distinct and that these white-haired cattle should be considered unrelated despite the similarity in phenotype. For more information, here are the addresses and websites. . . . 

American British White Park Association
P O Box 409
Myerstown, PA   17067

White Park Cattle Association of America
419 North Water Street
Madrid, Iowa  50516
Ancient White Park Cattle Society of North America
1273 Otter Creek Road
Big Timber, MT 59011

British White Cattle Association of America
P O Box 281
Bells, TX   75414-0281

One Summer Evening . . .

this array presented itself for us, enjoying it from our deck. Fortunately, we had film in the camera to capture this scene for, in the years intervening, it has never been repeated. Likely, atmospheric conditions and the sun's angle meshed to put on the show for this evening and the evening that followed. I suspect the sun's rays were shining through one or more monoliths, those towering, isolated outcroppings rock climbers call "chimneys" over in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness of Idaho.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Three Amigos

The famous, ubiquitous Farmall M. . . .  Its production began in 1939 and continued until 1952 when it was replaced by the Super M.  Diesel version, the MD, appeared in 1941 and cost one and a half times as much as a gasoline-powered M. The M was sometimes labeled as "Big Brother" to the popular Farmall H. Both models shared the same frame and layout allowing interchangeable frame mountable implements. The M was capable of pulling a three or four bottom plow.

Options included the Lift-All hydraulic system, a belt pulley, PTO, rubber tires, starter, lights, and a swinging drawbar. It could be ordered in high-crop, wide-front or tricycle configurations. The high-crop version was called a Model MV.

More than 290,000 of these machines were produced. In 1940, the cost of the Farmall M was around $1,100, the MD, $1,700.

This trio was discovered on the "bench" above the Bitterroot Valley of Western Montana on a summer's day whose clouds could serve as smoky exhaust.