National Geographic July 2013, Part 3

Hay. Beautiful. by Adam Nicolson, photographs by Rena Effendi

Hay. Beautiful. is about the hay farming communities of Transylvania. The farmers have a low-technology lifestyle that eschews things like weed killer.  As a result, their fields are full of what most of us would classify as weeds, but which the farmers, and Nicolson, apparently, view as wildflowers.  What do I call them?  When I was five, I fell in love with Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) flowers. I learned that the difference between a weed and a wildflower is in your attitude towards it, so I say that they’re whatever the farmers say they are.

Nicolson details the steps to harvesting hay and then shows us how the hay then goes on to help them produce most of their other food, particularly milk.

Times have changed, as they always do, and this way of life is dying out. One village in the region, Gyimes, is attempting to save itself by adopting one piece of advanced equipment — a refrigerated milk dispensing machine. Farmers bring their milk to the machine and, if it meets the government’s standard for hygiene and quality — is put in the machine.  A truck comes in twice a day to take the milk into the city for sale. Every farmer whose milk meets the standard and is put in the machine shares in the revenue generated by the sale.

I don’t know if this tactic worked over the long haul or not.  So far all I haven’t been able to find any information on what has happened over the intervening three years.

The Comeback Croc, photographs by Luciano Candisani, text by Roff Smith

This article is mostly text accompanying Candisani’s photographs of yacare caimans in Brazil. Yacare caimans have traditionally been used to make crocodile-skin leather (for handbags and belts and such). In 1992, harvesting of crocodile skin became illegal and the government of Brazil is attempting to stop the poachers.  As a result, the population has rebounded amazingly in that region.

Smith says that their future seems assured in Brazil, but he leaves us with a question about how the yacare caiman will fare in the rest of its range. As of the day I’m writing this (June 14, 2016) Wikipedia lists their status as “least concern” and the St. Louis Zoo says that their status is “common.” So it looks like whatever the other countries did worked.

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