I began the year by returning to a favorite subject of mine: horses! The Equine Legacy is a history of not only horses in America, but donkeys and mules, from the Age of Discovery to just after the Great War. Having read works like The Horse at Work and The Horse and the City, I was familiar with the wide uses of horses in industry, agriculture, and transportation. The information on mules and donkeys was fresh, though, and I was interested to find out how much of America’s early mule population owed its life to George Washington, who first created a distinct donkey breed (the American Mammoth Jackstock) and then engaged his prize specimens as studs to create particularly strong work mules throughout the States. Mules were particularly valuable in mines, as they weren’t as nervous as horses and were intelligent enough to be trained in behaviors that allowed them to survive the mine’s dangerous conditions. The author comments on the terrible losses horses suffered during the Civil War (over a million were killed or died from disease/overwork), and even offers a chapter on horses’ engagement with canals.
One of my longstanding ambitions has been to buy land in the country, with no neighbors save deer and far from the noise of highways and boomboxes. That’s not something that will happen anytime soon, given my current medical challenge, but I was actively working towards it last year before I became sick: it’s the reason I’d started a side job. I know so little about the practicalities and background requirements for investing in land, though, so I decided to do a little background reading. The Country Property Buyer’s Guide is extremely functional, with large sections on the vagaries of rural financing, and the importance of understanding one’s septic and water systems. There’s some smaller chapters on being a good rural neighbor (i.e. don’t let your cows and dogs roam all over other people’s property), but most of the content was on the practical/technical side, which recommends it.
Lastly, I read a Kindle Unlimited title called Alabama Footprints Exploration: Lost and Forgotten Stories, which proved to be excerpts from older histories, chiefly Albert J. Pickett’s 1851 History of Alabama and Incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi from the Earliest Period. The author sometimes compares the facts of the retellings against other narratives, but this isn’t a critical evaluation of the original narrative, just a passing-on of it in more accessible language. Enjoyable enough; it’s part of a series and I may continue in it as time allows, but TBR takes priority.
I’m currently plowing through The Real Anthony Fauci, giving The Oil Kings the odd despairing look, and just starting a TBR/science twofer.