Friday, 26 May 2017

We Are The World … In Darkness, Be Light … #3

My story this time comes from Mexico … Monterrey and Mexico City … highlighting a teenage son and his mother …

Julian Rios Cantu has recently hit the headlines through inventing a prototype bra … eliminating the need for a mammogram …

… the bra will detect cancer very early, by noticing the changes, particularly abnormal temperature, occurring in the breast. 

Here Julian is with Richard Branson - having won
his award - c/o Higia Technologies

I’m not explaining this very well … but please read up about him.

He was determined to help his mother, and all mothers with (potential) breast cancer …

Apart from his dedication to overcome his dyslexia by studying obsessively, which then enabled him to better understand science – he became top of the class with interests in technology and robots.

He is inspirational … his motto on (that dreaded birdie thing!) twitter is:

“Stop Thinking.
Stop Pondering.
Stop Strategising.
Stop Debating.
GO     DO.”

Monterrey, Mexico where the
company is based.

The family are practical … but you do need to read his story – definitely worth it … totally admirable.

His mother still works to feed her family – Julian and his twin sister, Daniela – while having cancer medication and chemo …

The prototype bra 

Julian has set up a company Higia Technologies with three of his smartest friends!  This includes a brief introductory video … please listen …

It also notes some statistics … one of which is that over 1,700,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed every year … check the website – it is before you get to the video.

Let us take stock … GO DO …
        … and then help others to GO DO …

We Are The World … In Darkness, Be Light

Your lead co-hosts this time are: 

Emily Bloomquist - Her Life in Ecuador ... is a new participant this month ... so please join us via the sign up form on her blog ... 

After the terrible tragic happening in Manchester this week – my heart goes out to all the families of those affected … please read Damyanti’s post:

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Easter Parade – a wee bit late …

Family and friends gathered … horses had been fed, watered and were out in the field on the Downs ...

Downland View

... the day was cold, but dry and sunny at least …

The cat had disappeared … Bertie is not too keen on visitors!  

Well in this photo - she's hoping someone will throw the
ball for her ... but that someone just wanted to have a zizz!

The beloved dog was greeting all visitors, happy just being around her two-legged pals … this photo is from the end of Summer last year.

I think there were 16 of us … as I’m no longer required to help – that eliminates me from knowing numbers or worrying about how many table settings or seating plans!

Just making sure I was well
watered! Sadly I was driving
so that scuppered that!

I just need to chat away to whomever wished to be talked to … including the dog!

Chocolate eggs were dotted around the garden for garnering in later on … 

Egg planting session here

... strange custom to have plants that give us chocolate – but they do … especially as some of you recently mentioned about chocolate mint …

Rockery - rosemary in front, bluebells
beyond, shrubs and many other plants

So here’s some photos of the day and the garden … this is before the full spring blooms were out … it is now meant to be late Spring early Summer – but it is raining!

Beech tree underplanted with
cyclamen - where the hammock sits

Over the years the garden has matured and changed … it is not the easiest soil to garden on … chalk – doesn’t help – this wet spell will have improved its lot immeasurably …


Right off we go – pictures and some notes – on names of flowers, trees etc … (well some of them anyway!) … 

well that was the post that was!

Wild naturally planted rockery - Downs in distance,
with primroses, bluebells and cowslips

Enjoy your fresh air breaks ... see how many plants, flowers, trees etc you can identify ... if not - check out later on ... and watch them change as we go through the seasons ... not too quickly please for this third-ager!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 12 May 2017

Answers to some queries re Aspects of British County Rare Breeds …

A number of questions were raised during my A-Z  of British Rare Breeds which I will endeavour to answer in this post … almost certainly long – sorrrreeeeeee …
Old drover's road

… and hence to answer those questions … together with a bit more lore, some facts, stats, and interesting extras:

c/o RBST

We have 77 recorded SHEEP breeds, of which 21 are commercially viable, 56 are native, while 24 of those are on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s Watchlist … 

Watchlist criteria (worth repeating, I thought) – the description varies a little with each animal population – but for sheep is as follows:

Critical (very few left)
Endangered (a few more, but not many)
Vulnerable (says it all)
At Risk (slightly better)
Minority (improving)

Some feet to be tarred before
being walked to market
Tarring of Feet of Poultry … animals and poultry were walked to the nearest Royal Market (1200 AD onwards, when the King had granted patronage) … along drove roads where inns would be found with enclosures for the animals to rest and feed …

the birds (geese, ducks) would be ‘driven’ through a ditch of cold tar solution, which made their feet sticky, then through sawdust or sand, which would stick to the tar, and protect them as they walked to market, often up to 40 – 100 miles or more … but for 8 – 9 miles a day.

c/o British Lop Pig organisation

The British Lop Pig – is a very docile and easily managed breed, partly due to their large pendulous ears restricting their vision. 

It appears that the ears would also keep the sun off its eyes, and to a point be able to keep the dust, mud and flies away.

Pig-iron Smelting at Coalbrookdale
by Philipp Loutherbourg (1801)

Sweating like a pig … comes from pigs which sweat – something the British Lop Pigs, apparently, do not suffer from – but this term refers to pig-iron smelting …

Roast Pork Chop, pumpkin and dale

Pigs and fat … the consumers’ change of taste over the decades:  after the War … large, commercial breeds were encouraged – in fact we even had a pig and piglets at home for a few years …

… now consumers do not want fatty meat – so in some of  the commercial breeds this trait is being bred out.

Burchell's Zebra - specimens from
extinct population
Zebra – I was surprised to read that Burchell’s zebra have been approved for farming in the UK – we have ostriches … it’s not a rare breed – but my Z post noted our zoological interest in zebras.  

Zebra stripes – it seems that they are black animals with white stripes and underbellies … but see Wiki for further information …

Peacock – cooking and eating thereof … see the link to Coquinaria – which gives some interesting medieval information on peacocks and other birds in the kitchen …

c/o Dairy Co - Cattle breeds of Britain

Cattle – Ellie Crossley, the cowgirl taking on our last herd of Chillingham wild cattle, the oldest known breed in the world.  Read all about it and her at The Telegraph’s: agriculture – farming article … wonderful pictures of the cows …see below

Tower of London Menagerie -
15th C illustration in
British Library

Menageries (early zoos) … Emperor Charlemagne was the first sovereign to have a menagerie in the 8th C, they were then taken up by kings, nobles across the world … England to Baghdad, Africa to Asia.  William the Conqueror had a small one … the Tower Menagerie, London began as early as 1204 …

British zoos were at their zenith in the late 1700s, as the scientific world started to understand more about flora and fauna … by 1831 the animals were transferred to London Zoo – but for a long time menageries were illustrations of power and wealth.

Phillip Loutherbourg -
Animals in the Countryside (1767)
Rare Breeds – Wild Life … poaching, theft of stock, rural crime, illegal harvesting of wild plant species … this subject crosses borders and circles the world – an aspect I can mention, but one that is too broad for me to cover properly – and I wouldn’t do it justice – other than to remind you of these challenges …

Stuffed Griffin at
University of Cophenhagen

Last but not least I came across this post about Taxidermy from the Wellcome Collection Blog entitled “Intimate and Invasive: the Art of Ethical Taxidermy” … many of you who write mysteries, murder mysteries, stories in general may find this post of interest.

In saving these Rare Breeds we are conserving our heritage, ensuring that in future there will be a wider range of genetics to choose from – adaptable to future needs …

Chillingham Bull  (1789) by Thomas Bewick
engraver and naturalist

As I have shown in the A-Z … we have a huge diversity of livestock and poultry on this island.  Over hundreds of years, selective breeding and careful husbandry by shepherds and farmers all across the country has produced a huge range of different animals.

Rare Breeds Survival Trust stand
We have the greatest number of native breeds of sheep and cattle in the world, each one unique and useful in its way … there are 35 breeds of cattle and 14 pig breeds, sheep I mentioned earlier on.  If we lose these … we lose a potentially vital genetic resource …

A range of meats from Graig Farm Organics

A particular breed may seem unfashionable and old fashioned now, but who knows what conditions will prevail in the future, what breeds will thrive as agriculture changes, as it must, over the next decades.

Graig Farm Organic Sausages

We are now using our knowledge to create new, modern breeds suited to conditions today … and in particular environments.

Z for Zonked!

The best way for us as consumers to save these rare breeds, which may seem counter-intuitive – is to eat them … yummy!!!  So search out some sausages, a leg of lamb, or some steaks from a rare breed, perhaps try some goat, finish with some cheeses but enjoy your meal.

Exmoor Ponies have been present in
Britain since 700,000 years BC -
I need to do a separate post of them anon!
I met someone yesterday who was
giving me the low down ... 

That’s a wrap folks!  I’ve shot my bolt - however … any questions I haven’t answered please ask and I will endeavour to answer.

Now to the links: 

Know your Sheep Facts - National Sheep Association

Graig Farms, Powys, Wales - Organic farming

The Independent - Zebra Meat: Exotic and Lean

The cooking of Peacock - c/o Coquinaria

Rare Breeds: What's the Point? - Indie Farmer

Now to extra notes ...thanks to Alex's questions ... 

re shoeing/ tarring of animals being walked/ herded to market and some other quite interesting thoughts ... 

The Telegraph - Quite Interesting

Google answers re Geese, Black Cattle being shod with iron plates, animals and poultry being 'socked' ... leather soled socks ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sunday, 7 May 2017

A – Z Reflections post 2017 … Aspects of British County Rare Breeds ...

To be part of a group of Bloggers who participate in the A-Z Challenge has once again been a huge pleasure … I do write my posts in advance, as I like to be relevant to my theme and give posts that others will enjoy …

With the new approach I seemed to be lucky – people found me … and I had lots of valuable and interested comments …

I don’t think, I’m ashamed to say, I went out looking for new blogging friends – they appeared and I grabbed hold! 

The daily list – thank you Heather for putting that up every day – I was always in the late 50s to early 70s number scale … I didn’t use it for anything else …

I do miss the whole Linky List – and the concept of checking out the next five on the list, each day … or scanning through and remembering people from earlier days, or finding interesting new sites …

Rare Breeds - various

As I prefer to write to blog I do not fit into the other blogging mediums … Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc …

Gerard ter Borch - c1652-4:
Girl Milking Cow in a Barn

My aim for the A- Z is to give anyone who finds me, or who is one of my regular followers – some content worth reading … I’m not blogging to get lots of followers – it’s nice, but not my priority – good friends, interesting blogs makes me a ‘happy girl’!

The usual gripes … but we can all get over those …

I’m not sure I’ll do the challenge next year … there’s too much social media … I totally enjoy the interaction of other bloggers

Rare Breeds Show outside Chichester on a beautiful
July day in 2015 - see I did do my field research!
Thanks Lee, Alex, Heather, John, Jeremy and all active co-hosts – I appreciate the way the A-Z challenge has continued …

I was going to highlight some bloggers – but will do only one, who I would consider is essential reading in this day and age, and that is Nila of Madly in Verse  - her theme was Arabiana.

Nila's theme reveal - Arabiana 

You could not in my opinion have a better person to guide you through as Nila describes it a smorgasbord of Arab cultureart, architecture, design, films, history, music … and ‘whatever else fits the letter of the day.’"  There's lots of music and youtube clips ... just enjoy ... 

I've linked you to her introductory theme … the whole 28 or so posts are magnificent – an open door to learning about the MENA region (I have only just looked that up!   Middle East – North African region) … but do enjoy and do appreciate the MENA …

However – if anyone needs inspiration for new blogs to visit – please feel free to visit the comments on my blog and go visit from there … some have put their links, others the name will link you across … my commenters are all brilliant – thank you each and every one of you …

Rare Breeds Survival Trust link to their site ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday, 1 May 2017

We Are The World ... In Darkness, Be Light ... #2

As some of you will know the end of April Friday clashed with the 2017 A-Z Blogging Challenge that many do … and I was on the downward slope at the XYZ sundown days! 

X being the one that particularly clashed.   What to do – add in an extra post to the alphabet to make it 27 letters instead of 26 – or just quietly not worry and pick up the threads later …. here I am gathering my wits now Mayday has come around.

I have plenty of ideas for the future month end Fridays – subjects and people I wish to write about … but perhaps the best way is to tie in my A-Z theme of Aspects of Rare Breeds in the British Countryside to ‘our’ motto:  In Darkness Be Light …

Dorset hills rolling away towards the English Channel

Thankfully we have many dedicated farmers, volunteers, supporters, interested parties and organisations who care for this British landscape on our island.

So this is a shout-out to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust: the over-arching body that monitors, saves and promotes our rare and native farm breeds … I will add to this post when I do a Reflections A-Z post(s) later this week.

The Ark - part of  the
Rare Breeds Survival Trust

But thank you to all our farmers, associated organisations, volunteers, and members of the public, who are guardians of our natural history.

Rare Breeds Survival Trust – their About Us page …

Rare Breeds – What’s the Point … Indie Farmer’s article
      (surprisingly the farm is only about ten miles away)

We are the World Blogfest …

In Darkness,      Be Light … 

My R for Rare Breeds Survival Trust post where you can find further information

From a blogger who blogs positivity please join us at:

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories