Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/884

This page has been validated.
858
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

four to ten years old. "It is not difficult to find white oaks under eighteen inches high that are twenty or more years old, and then this may be the second, third, or fourth sprout that has followed in succession, so that it is not improbable that in some of the cases seen the parent root or grub was from sixty to one hundred years old; and the whole now not an inch in diameter anywhere above the ground. Then what shall we say of the age of some grubs that weigh from thirty to fifty pounds each? "Pines and hemlocks will not grow from stumps, but the seeds have a vitality corresponding to that of the deciduous "grubs." In the cone they may be preserved with hardly impaired integrity for five or six years; and cones of Pinus Banksiana have been seen, unopened and apparently perfect, that were ten or fifteen years old. "I feel confident," Prof. Beal says, "that, in an hour or two spent in a certain favorable place, I could fully satisfy any intelligent person, unless he be unusually stubborn, that it is an easy matter to prove that new forests spring from seeds or the stumps of the old, and that, when the second growth is in some respects unlike the first, the change is accounted for in a rational manner."

 

The Oyster-Garden of Arcachon.—The great oyster-garden at Arcachon, France, is a basin on the Bay of Biscay, connected with the Atlantic only by a very narrow opening, and is sixty-eight miles in circumference and protected from winds by the pine-clad heights that surround it. The waters are salt enough and yet not too strong, the bottom is of the gravelly sand favorable to oyster-breeding, and the rise and fall of the tide are such that the basin is completely covered at high tide and the beds are largely uncovered at low water. The oyster has always been an inhabitant of this spot. The stock had become nearly exhausted forty years ago, but has been recruited by individual enterprise under the encouragement of the Government. There are now 12,500 acres of oyster-beds in the basin. Several thousand men and women are employed to attend them, and the average annual sale of oysters by the principal firm is over 200,000,000. As the majority are not sold under two years old, and these only for relaying, it is computed that there are usually 500,000,000 oysters of various ages upon these beds. The beds having been artificially made, the whole process of oyster-breeding can be witnessed there. They are laid out in parks, each park embracing twenty or more beds, and between the parks, as between the sections of the beds, are water ways for the passage of boats. The beds are made of sand and gravel, upon foundations of wooden piles, and raised above the level of the basin bottom, but not to such an extent as to expose them at other than low tides. A barrier of "switches" or nets protects the beds from fishes. Sets of earthenware tiles are arranged for the reception of the young oysters or "spat," coated with mortar, so that anything fixing itself to them may be scraped off easily. Sometimes each of these tiles will be covered by five hundred or six hundred young oysters. They develop rapidly, and in about a month take the form of real miniature oysters. Then they need more room, and are thinned by scraping, to be placed wider apart on other tiles, or to be transferred to their final beds, or to wire-bottomed trays.

 

A Navajo Tanner.—Dr. Shufeldt has succeeded in witnessing the complete process of tanning a buckskin by a Navajo Indian. He had difficulty in inducing the tanner to bring his work where it could all be performed before his eyes, because of a superstition that the hide must be removed on the spot where the animal is slain, or the hunter will lose his eye-sight before the next moon. The present hunter, however, perhaps tried to avoid this doom by beginning some of the preliminaries of his work before removing the animal. The skin was taken off with great dexterity in manipulation, and laid in a hole dug in the ground and filled with spring-water till the next morning. It was then taken out, washed, cleansed with a knife, and dipped in clean water. The tools for shaving off the hair wore obtained from the animal itself, being parts of the bones of the fore-leg. The skull of the deer, which had been kept through the night in the ashes of a low camp-fire, was split, and the brains were taken out. They were then manipulated in a basin of tepid water for the removal of splinters of bone, and left to sim-