Inspiring Children to be the Best That They Can Be

For: Primary Educators, Parents, and Kids Inspiring Children To Love Learning And Be The Best They Can Be

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bison or Water Buffalo

Time to Explore

Finding Water Buffalo

     We are all familiar with the 'American' bison, often referred to as buffalo. Western movies wouldn't be the same without the shaggy haired beasts thundering along the prairie, chased by cowboys on horses. 

      Recently, I became acquainted with two calm, very bulky water buffalo. They live at a muddy water hole behind a stable yard at Middleton Place Plantation near Charleston, SC. 
     Their unique hooves are 'rock-like' and flat, allowing them to walk through sticky mud over long periods of time (such as in southern rice fields of yesteryear or rice paddies found in Asia). Recently, early Middleton letters revealed several were transported from Constantinople, Turkey, (now Instanbul) to Middleton in the 1850's. Until then, it was believed there were no 'working' water buffalo in America until the 1970s'. 
     The two residing at Middleton were donated by the president of the American Water Buffalo Association in 2007. There is a growing population in the United States in warm regions that offer plenty of water and mud. Currently about 20 American farmers have herds of 30 or more. In fact, there is a new trend of dairies, such as Bufala di Vermont in Woodstock, Vermont, to make mozzarella cheese from water buffalo milk. Originally, this delicate cheese could only be produced from water buffalo milk in Italy and Bulgaria. This mozzarella cheese is unlike what is made from cow's milk that tops pizza.

Book Review for Kids

Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss   Ages 8 - 11
   The true story of Kenichi 'Zeni' Zenimura is a delightfully satisfying read. The title gives away no secrets - at least for me. It became a story of fulfilling dreams and not allowing physical limitations, such as size, dictate one's future. In his darkest hour, 'fenced' in an interment camp for Japanese Americans, on an Arizona desert, Zeni's realizes his vision of building a remarkable baseball field in the middle of the camp. He organizes 32 teams, which include his two sons. He is recognized as the 'father' of Japanese American baseball. 

Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse by Tamera Wissinger 
      (ages 4 -10)
      It is unique to have over 100 pages of poems - especially ones that hold interest. The poems are cleverly tied together to create a story of Dad, Sam, and sister, Lucy, fishing for a day. The strong point for me was the titling of each poem in accordance with its type - such as lyric, ballad, free verse. . . at least 21 different forms. I highly recommend this book as a read aloud - as much fun as Shel Silverstein - and as an excellent introduction to writing/ appreciating rhyme and poetry.

The Swap by Megan Shull   (ages 10 and up)
     A swap - switching a girl to a boy's body - and vice versa?  I giggled my way through the entire book - and believe it may be one of the cleverest books published in 2014. Beyond the hilarity of an 8th grade boy and 7th grade girl swapping physical bodies, families, and routines, there are several emotional 'life-changing' moments that will touch your heart. They both discover that life is difficult whether you are a boy or a girl. 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio    (ages 9 and up)
     August (or Auggie) as his family call him, has had ten years of becoming immune to folks quickly looking away - or starring at his facial abnormalities - but is anyone ever ready? His mother decides it's time to face middle school (fifth grade) after being home schooled. The book is written from Auggie's perspective - his feelings, coping mechanisms, and perceptions of others - but several characters allow us to get to know them - and their feelings. There are humorous moments, but also scenes that brought on tears and I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster. Although not action packed, it is charming, inspirational, and a valuable book that provokes thoughtfulness and kindness.

In My Backyard

     I am pleased to be a garden guide at Middleton Place Plantation and enjoy visiting the two water buffalos often. I am in the process of writing a narrative poem about them and want to share one short stanza.

Middleton's Water Buffalos

Middleton Place has two bulky males.
They are often seen switching their tails.
One is called Adem, that's turkish for 'earth'
The other is Berk, which means solid girth.
Salute water buffalos - 
         a source of wealth and pride.
They're farmed for their milk, meat, and leather worldwide.