Dusty, Dull Books on a Land Library Shelf

fodder cover

Why did this book become the Land Library’s page-by-page preoccupation over the past week? It’s title might seem a bit dull: Fodder and Pasture Plants, written by George H. Clark and M. Oscar Malte, and published in 1913 by the Department of Agriculture, Canada.

But here is where our reading experience changed. Our sense of touch was engaged first. The 100-year old cloth cover gave us a tactile pleasure that no modern dust jacket can provide. As we delved into the text, there was much to learn from Clarke and Malte’s complete botanical description of each plant, unexpectedly enlivened by occasional quotes from the likes of Xenophon, Pliny, Virgil, Chaucer, and Shakespeare!

Books are built of chapters and parts. Here’s the part we love best from our century-old copy of Fodder and Pasture Plants: more than 25 full-color plates, from the brush of Norman Criddle. Here’s just two of Criddle’s beautiful depictions:

brome grass

Brome grass is extensively grown in Hungary, where the climate is much like that of the Canadian West…

grass

Red Top is indigenous to all European countries, Northern Africa, North and Central Asia, and North America.

from the preface:

It is, therefore, the purpose of this book to provide, in a form convenient for reference, fairly comprehensible information about those grasses, clovers, and other fodder and pasture plants that are generally to be of value in Canada.

Yes — and maybe something more!

Our thanks goes to the folks at Small Farmer’s Journal. Their recent feature led us to the Land Library’s most recent acquisition — Clarke & Malte’s Fodder and Pasture Plants!

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