Bits and Pieces: England's Fox Hunters, Stock-Up on Canning Supplies, and Water Demands in the West

This short series of reports includes news on England's fox hunters, stock-up on canning supplies, and demands for water in the West.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Editors
May/June 1975
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Short reports on homestead news.
PHOTO: FOTOLIA/LARISAP


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MERRIE OLDE ENGLAND AIN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE and the gluttonous spread of "civilization" is putting a definite damper on the traditional "country squire" way of life. Fox hunters, for example, have had a dastardly time keeping their traditional prey out of freeways, residential areas, shopping centers, and crop-planted agribiz land. As a result, a pack of fifty baying foxhounds and a whole slew of galloping, tally-ho-ing riders recently chased Andrew Baird — a company executive executive turned modern-day substitute "fox" — through the dwindling fields and forests near London for a full three and a half hours. Has it really come to this?

OUR ECONOMIC CAN OF WORMS IS A BOON TO SOME BUSINESSES ... one of which is Ivan Rayworth Jr.'s Worm .. Ranch in Torrance, California. Rayworth maintains a breeding stock of no less than 24,300,000 of the squiggly creatures, and says his sales are getting better as the economy gets worse. Why? Because there are plenty of unemployed folks with enough time to go fishing these days … and lots more people are gardening — and using worms to improve their soil — than ever before. Hmmm … could there be a market for the little rascals in your area?

NEARLY NINE MILLION ACRES OF UNFARMED LAND was indiscriminately plowed up last year by American agribusiness … all, apparently, in the name of "relieving" the world food shortage. The Soil Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture estimates that less than half of the newly tilled acreage is being farmed with adequate erosion controls, and that — as a result — 60 million tons of topsoil were irreversibly lost from virgin land in 1974.

"THOSE BLASTED WATER HYACINTHS" that plague Southern States by clogging boatways and snagging fishermen's favorite lures may prove to be one of the most efficient water pollutant filters known. Studies show that two and one-half acres of the rapid-growth plants can remove considerable amounts of cadmium, nickel, carbolic acid, nitrogen, and phosphate at relatively fast rate … and when harvested, can be processed to produce 2.5 million cubic feet of usable bio-gas.

THE DIXIE SEAFOOD INDUSTRY IS SINKING FAST according to a recent article in The National Fisherman. Skyrocketing fuel costs — and inflation in general — have put such a pinch on profits that employers are unable to raise wages in line with the cost of living. As a result, hundreds of workers are quitting their jobs and signing up for a higher-paying occupation: welfare

DEMANDS FOR WATER IN THE WEST are getting out of hand as all kinds of energy-development schemes for the area — coal liquefaction, nuclear power plants, shale oil extraction, hydroelectric production, and a bevy of other "solutions" to the energy crisis — are "running dry" for lack of the quantities of H20 required to pull them off. As a result, private corporations, agribusiness concerns, and the Western States themselves are madly scrambling for water rights, devising intricate plots for diverting rivers from one area to another, and talking of "modifying" the weather to bring more precipitation.

CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION? It's a landmark year, folks: 1975 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of this country's credit card industry. Yep. Way back in 1950, Diner's Club — the original plastic pass to instant consumption — signed up its first 200 members. Today, more than 65 million credit cards are in use. Should we sing happy birthday, or have a moment of silence?

BUY THOSE CANNING SUPPLIES NOW, FOLKS … from all indications, manufacturers of jars, caps, and lids won't be ate . to keep up with demand again this summer. Sales in the industry have doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled over the past four years … but raw materials shortages — coupled with rising costs and an uncertain economy — have apparently hampered efforts efforts to keep productivity in line with the skyrocketing demand.

UNDERSEA STORAGE OF SURPLUS GRAIN AND FISH could make a significant dent in the world food shortage, according study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report suggests that fish — which keep well in the presence of high pressure and low temperature — could be stored underwater in areas close to where they're caught, and that wheat and barley and the like could be submerged in shallow lakes for protection. At present, rodent and bird damage causes a 30 to 50% loss of the total United States grain harvest … and over half of all caught fish are of marginal quality by the time they reach shore.

A GIANT LEAP FOR … LITTER? Evel Knievel' Knievel's Snake River Canyon jump and the mobs of people that attended the one-day event left nearly 100,000 aluminum pop-top cans behind.

EVEN IF YOU CAN'T BREATHE THE AIR in a few more years, you'll be able to remove your gas masks, peer through the smog, and see Alden M. Townsend's pollution-resistant red maples swaying merrily in the thermally disturbed breeze. Townsend — a botanical geneticist for the ARS Shade Tree and Ornamental Plant Laboratory — has apparently accepted grimy air as a foregone conclusion, and is now busily working to develop a breed of trees that can survive in such an atmosphere. Let's see: You put the cart in front, and then the horse … and …

THE 1975 MOUNT WASHINGTON ALTERNATIVE VEHICLE REGATTA begins at noon on Sunday, June 15 and concludes Friday evening, June 20th. The event — as much a get-together as a contest — is centered around performance evaluations (not speed) of alternative vehicles climbing and descending the famed Mt. Washington Auto Road in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest. If you'd like to enter your non-polluting, motor-driven vehicle, write Mt. Washington Trophy, Connecticut.


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