Archive for July, 2012

Where did the goat come from?

Goat

Domestic goats probably are descended from the wild Persian goats of Southeastern Asia.

The goat we see raised on many farms today probably were descended from the wild Persian goats that lived long ago on the high plateaus and rugged mountains of southern Asia.

Goats are closely related to sheep, and in many ways look like sheep.

One of the ways you may tell a goat from a sheep is by the long beard that grows on the chin of most goats.  The tail is shorter than a sheep’s and turns upward.  Goats do not grow as large as sheep.

Many people think that goats will eat anything.  It is true that goats will try to eat most things that other animals won’t.

But it isn’t true that they eat tin cans, as some people like to think.

They may, however, lick tin cans for the food they may contain and lick the glue on the backs of labels on the cans.

Goat’s milk and cheese made from it are important foods.  Probably more people throughout the world use goat’s milk than cow’s milk.

Goats are also raised for the long wool, which is woven into soft, warm cloth. Dick Rogers

Why do we say the stork brings new babies?

The familiar legend that the stork brings new babies arises from the fact that the stork takes loving care of its own young.

When a new baby is born, people sometimes like to say they have had “a visit from the stork.”

The familiar legend that the stork brings new babies from heaven arises from the fact that storks are devoted parents.  They take loving care of their own young.

The only member of the stork family living in North America is the wood ibis, or wood stork, that lives in marshes along the southern coasts of the United States.

Stork

White storks live throughout Europe and Africa.  They are large, white birds with long, red legs and long necks.  They have no voice except for an occasional hiss.

They “speak” to one another by noisily rattling their long, red bills.

These are the storks that like to build large twig nests of chimneys and rooftops.

Many Dutch and German families build stork nests on rooftops and chimneys to attract storks.

A house that storks nest on is considered a lucky house.  Each spring, the birds often return to the same nests to raise their young. – Dick Rogers

How do bees sting?

A worker honeybee can only sting once in its life.

Most bees depend on their stingers, or stings, only as a means of self-defense and to protect the bee colony’s store of honey from robber bees and bears, as well as people.

Bee

A bee’s sting causes sudden pain and swelling.  You may know something about that already.

The stinger of a worker is located at the tail end of its body.  It has little barbs that turn inward.

So, when the bee sticks it into your skin, the barbs hold so tightly that the bee cannot pull it out.  The bee must tear itself away, leaving part of its body behind the stinger.

The bee dies soon after losing its stinger continue to pump the stinging fluid into the wound even after the bees has flown away.

If you are stung, gently scrape the stinger off immediately.  This reduces the amount of poison that enters the wound.

There are many kinds of bees, and many of them don’t sting at all.

Bumblebees and wasps can use their stingers over and over. – Dick Rogers

What is a pack rat?

A wood rat is often called a pack rat because it collects shiny objects for its nest.

A wood rat is sometimes called “pack rat” because of its curious habit of stealing and “packing off” shiny buttons, silverware, buckles, colored rocks, or any other small, bright object that catch its fancy.

Pack Rat

Sometimes the pack rat will drop and leave a pebble or something equally useless he is carrying in order to “pack off” a more attractive button or coin.

This accounts for his often being called a “trade rat.”

A pack rat looks much like the common house rat, but it has cleaner habits.  It does not like to live in sewers and garbage dumps.

Instead, some pack rats live in the mountains and make their homes in bulky piles of sticks, which they build on rocky ledges, under trees or in branches.

Other pack rats live in the desert and build their  homes in clumps of cacti or cover their nests with cactus spines to keep enemies out.  A pack rat home may often tower as high as three or four feet.

Pack rats go out only at night to look for berries and seeds to eat, or any nice shiny objects that they find in your yard or camp site that they can “pack off.” – Dick Rogers

How do crickets sing?

Cricket

Crickets chirp away merrily by rubbing their rough wings together.

The cheerful songs that crickets chirp have inspired the popular expression “as merry as a cricket.”  Actually, a cricket doesn’t “sing.”  A cricket fiddles its chirping note by rubbing its wings together.

The wing edges are rough where they overlap.  The chirping noise is produced by rubbing the rough edges briskly together.  In this manner, the boy cricket fiddles courtship songs to a girl cricket.

His chirps also serve to warn away enemies.  Crickets have keen ears, which are located on their legs instead of their heads.

The little pale-green tree cricket has the clearest and most musical notes of all.  It lives high in trees and bushes, and is sometimes called a “thermometer cricket” because of its ability to report the temperature.  It chirps faster as the temperature rises.

If you live where there are crickets, you can find the temperature by counting the member of chirps a cricket makes in 15 seconds and adding 39 to the number. – Dick Rogers

What is an aardvark?

Aardvark

The aardvark is an African animal that feeds on ants and termites.

The aardvark is one of Africa’s strangest creatures.   Its strange name comes from the old Dutch words meaning “earth pig.”  In some ways “earth Pig” is a good name, for its body is shaped much like a pig’s, and it spends most of the day curled up in its cool underground den.

But the aardvark is not like a pig in any other way.  An aardvark’s front feet are provided with powerful claws, which it uses to open termite and ant nests.

Then it pushes out its long tongue, which is like a flat, sticky worm more than a foot long.  It licks up the ants it  uncovers.  The ants stick to the aardvark’s sticky tongue as if it were flypaper, and the aardvark slurps the ants into its mouth.

Then it pokes its long tongue down into the winding tunnels to find more ants to eat.  It may eat many thousands of ants in one meal.

While it is eating, the aardvark’s thick, leathery skin protects it from the angry bites of the ants.

Although they look clumsy, aardvarks are not easy to catch, for in a few minutes they can dig a hole deep enough to escape from enemies. – Dick Rogers