17 August: Gilbert White IV, Nature is a great economist.

Sussex Cattle

LETTER VIII Continued.

Within the present limits of the forest are three considerable lakes, Hogmer, Cranmer, and Wolmer, all of which are stocked with carp, tench, eels, and perch: but the fish do not thrive well, because the water is hungry, and the bottoms are a naked sand.

A circumstance respecting these ponds, though by no means peculiar to them, I cannot pass over in silence; and that is, that instinct by which in summer all the kine, whether oxen, cows, calves, or heifers, retire constantly to the water during the hotter hours; where, being more exempt from flies, and inhaling the coolness of that element, some belly deep, and some only to mid-leg, they ruminate and solace themselves from about ten in the morning till four in the afternoon, and then return to their feeding.  During this great proportion of the day they drop much dung, in which insects nestle, and so supply food for the fish, which would be poorly subsisted but from this contingency.  Thus Nature, who is a great economist, converts the recreation of one animal to the support of another!  Thomson, who was a nice observer of natural occurrences, did not let this pleasing circumstance escape him. 

He says, in his “Summer,”

“A various group the herds and flocks compose;
. . . on the grassy bank
Some ruminating lie; while others stand
Half in the flood, and, often bending, sip
The circling surface.”

White is more aware than many modern people of the cycle of life! These Sussex heifers were beside the Little Stour River in July 2020.

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si'

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