29 August 1903

A Promising Industry
While the ostrich farms of the American South-west have proved themselves so successful that the raising of the domestic plumes may now be considered an industrial fixture, ostrich farming in Australia is fast becoming to the front, and sending out a feathery product which is far superior than ever derived from Africa itself. In speaking recently on this subject of a big New York ostrich feather house said:

It was only about the time that we ventured to produce ostrich feathers in the United States that a South African visitor travelling through Australia suggested the feasibility of ostrich farming in that country. The right sort of country and the right sort of climate obtained there, he said, to make the venture a success even beyond that of sheep farming.

Within the following year the first Australian ostrich farm was started in a Sydney suburb. The farm is located near one of the immense headlands guarding the entrance to Port Jackson, and commands a magnificent panoramic view of the waters of the broad Pacific. Kraals were built, exactly as the animals are housed in Africa, and 22 fine, healthy birds were imported on maize and vegetable matter.

The supply of water on the farm is limited, but it is found that ostriches require but little water to thrive, a fact which would suggest our own semi-arid zones as splendidly adapted to this sort of farming.

The experience in raising the birds and gathering their feathers is practically the same in Australia as it is with us. — the animals thrive even better under their new conditions than they did in their native land — and it is safe to say we are not going to have a monopoly in plume harvesting. One of the ostriches on the Sydney farm yielded a feather 27 inches long and fifteen inches wide, and of the purest white.

In South Africa the animals mature at three years, but with us and in Australia two and a half years is their full value. The feathers, of course, are most valuable when the bird is matured. After the feathers are clipped, they are carefully strung and dried, after which they are graded for the workshop. Owing to more favourable climatic conditions and to better care and food, the feathers are superior to any sent from Africa, and there is a ready sale for them in the open market, where the supply just now is unable to meet the demand.

The same advantage found in arriving at speedy maturity and in securing superior feathers is likewise obtained in the matter of hatching young ostriches. The old birds, as a rule, breed three times in two years, usually in the cooler months, when they lay as high as 28 eggs, out of which it is safe to count on 50 per cent hatching. The young birds grow amazingly fast, and within a few years a farm, starting with only ten birds ought to number several hundred.

Up to now the best feathers have gone to Europe and come from Morocco and from South Africa. But now that the ostrich has been brought to the door of civilisation, where he can be studied scientifically and given due care and attention, we are going to have ostrich feathers as we never had them before, and the race is on between America and Australia.

The Germans eat more potatoes than any other people, not excluding the Irish, and have established Government Schools for teaching systems of planting and cultivating the potato. Their most famous monarch, Frederick the Great, wrote several poems in praise of the potato.

In Germany to-day, a large proportion of the working people live on little else but this popular vegetable, while German cooks have invented scores of different ways of preparing and serving. It is cooked in its jacket and without, or it is stewed, fricasseed, mashed, roasted, fried in cubes, in thin slices, mashed and fried, baked with huge lumps of butter in the interior, stewed in milk, boiled in salt, water and parsley, stuffed with parsley and onion, or fried in mashed form and covered with grated cheese.

But the most popular vegetable dish in the Fatherland is the potato mixed with flour and eggs, and kneaded into big balls. These are light and fragrant, and are covered in black butter sauce. The Germans make excellent potato pancakes. Not long ago and exhibition was held at Frankfurt of machinery and products showing the uses of potato alcohol, and cooking stoves, lamps, and engines up to 300 horse-power, operated by the cheap alcohol from the humble vegetable were on view there.

Terrible Injuries

The dangers attendant upon the appearance of performing bears in public streets has been strikingly illustrated by a startling incident, which occurred on Monday in Tuebrook, Liverpool.

During the afternoon a number of bears were encamped on a piece of waste ground in Marlborough-road, being in charge of a troupe of Servians, who have lately been parading the streets of the city. A group of children appeared to have gone in very close proximity to one of the animals. Whether or not they commenced to tease it is uncertain, but the fact remains that the bear lost its temper, and, although chained, made a rush at the youngsters.

There was a wild stampede, and all children got clear, with the exception of a little girl named Mary BENNETT, aged five years, whose parents reside in New-road, Tuebrook.

The bear caught her round the waist, and gave her a violent and vicious hug, at the same time driving his claws into her chest. Needless to say, the greatest excitement prevailed. Assistance, however, was readily at hand, and he infuriated animal was beaten off, but not before the child had sustained terrible injuries.

She was removed with all speed to the Royal Infirmary, where it was found that she had had five ribs fractured, in addition to having been penetrated. Late on Monday night, the unfortunate child lay in a very precarious condition.

The latest conundrum in connection with the Ashton Volunteers since their return from camp is, “Who stole the rabbit? And “Who milked the cows?” So far mum’s the word, and the puzzle is almost as insoluble as the riddle of the Sphinx.

It appears that a number of Volunteers went into a chip-potato shop in Conway and ordered several rounds of the savoury sliced “pommes de terre.” A rabbit was said to be lying on the table, and when the Volunteers had taken their departure the rodent had mysteriously disappeared, evidently having been commandeered, or “puckorood” as the Hindustani would say.

The owner was a typical Welshman and spoke very bad English. He hurried off to headquarters at the Morfa Camp a mile and a half away, taking a constable with him, and presented his case to the conclave of officers in attendance, and demanded that the offender should be brought to justice.

”Giff me pack my rappeet,” he gesticulated. The visages of the officers remained stern and immobile. There was not even a chuckle when the spokesman, an eminent legal gentleman residing not far from Ashton, what species of lepus cuniculus it was, was it a buck or a doe? The owner did not know, inasmuch as it had been dressed for sale. If he could give them some information as to how it “dressed” they might be able to trace and identify it.

Taffy, however, did not understand Lancashire idioms, and got into a bit of furore. The severe cross-examination that the Welsh tradesman had to undergo at the hands of the military representatives of quills and pills completely dumbfounded and confused him, and, answering as to the number of rabbits he had in his shop, replied “fifty seffon.”

How was it he missed one of 57? He had placed it on one side out of sight. — How could anyone steal it then? He placed it out of sight on a plate on the counter. — Now let us understand you correctly, was not this the only rabbit you had in the shop? Yes, the only one. — At which admissions there were repeated roars of laughter. Meanwhile, the constable, seeing the hornets’ nest he had suddenly fallen into, discreetly sidled out at the backdoor, and was taken to the refreshment department.

It was then suggested they should go in search of “bunny.” The constable, a second “Chublock Holmes,” said he could walk straight to the tent where the rabbit was secreted. A cute Volunteer sergeant-instructor drew a red herring across the trail, however, and so adroitly manoeuvred Robert round and round the tents that he was in a maze and was completely thrown off the tent

A couple of staff sergeants came on the scene and paid the owner the value of the rabbit and a bit extra. The constable pointed out that it was compounding a felony, but having once had his palms greased, Taffy would not part with the shekels and they were on the horns of a dilemma. To clear the constable it was agreed to have the charge formally entered by the orderly room officer, and this was done in the shape of a “charge” for refreshments at the adjoining canteen.

The humour of the incident was further increased by the disinclination of the Welshman to quit the camp until a late hour, when he had to charter a char-a-banc specially to take him home after defraying the costs of which he was left with a profit of 4d on the transaction.

Many amusing incidents are related in connection with the camp. Whether the village pump had run dry or not we cannot say, but early one morning an excited Welsh farmer presented himself at headquarters and said: “I go to milk my cows this morning, and they wass already milked.”

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