On horses, septic tanks, and roving Spainards

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.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
This entry was posted in history, Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to On horses, septic tanks, and roving Spainards

  1. Cyberkitten says:

    Ploughing through the Fauci book? I guess that means its not very good?

    • “Plowing through” is chiefly a reference to its size, as it’s 900 pages or so. It’s quite readable, but more polemical than I’m comfortable with. As a rule, I avoid polemics unless I’m comfortable enough with the subject that I can argue with the author in my head, and so beat out the truth. In this case, I can’t do that because the topic is both more technical and novel, and there so many footnotes than I’d be liable to take as much time checking sources as the author did writing the book.

  2. You read the most interesting books. I love reading books about the origin of things. I did not know GW was responsible for our mule line.

    How are you doing, health wise?

    • Thanks for asking! I’m not too bad at all — still working even on dialysis days, and doing my best to stay active on the days I can (walking and lifting weights, working in my yard). I’m also pushing UAB to get started with the intake process, trying to see what tests I can go ahead and knock out locally since they’re dragging their feet about scheduling me to come up there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s