WC received an email from a reader who plans to start her own blog. She wanted to know how an where WC gets the ideas for his blog posts.
WC and Mrs. WC was driving along the side road up to Rapid River Fish Hatchery, a kind of green oasis in the high desert east of Hell’s Canyon. It’s a well-known birding spot. And in a pasture along the Rapid River, WC saw this:
The way WC’s mind works is that WC sees something like this, photographs it and wonders what in the world is going on. This obviously wasn’t a Texas Longhorn.
A little time on the internet – well, a lot of time on the internet – and WC found a whole new world he hadn’t known existed. This is a Watusi bull, likely an Ankole-Watusi, an ancient herd species originally from the Sahel in Africa. Among Tutsi people of Rwanda, it’s the breed of royalty. The species’ ability to cope with harsh conditions and marginal forage have spread it around the world. Or at least some of its genes. There’s even a World Watusi Association, a kind American Kennel Club registry for the breed. You can’t make this stuff up.
The breed is prehistoric, and there is unsubstantiated speculation on the Web that it was originally a hybrid of aurochs – an extinct species of wild cattle – and African Buffalo. Whether or not that’s true, the breed has been around for a very long time. It’s featured in African rock art dating back at least 10,000 years.
The line of Ankole-Watusi is in danger of extinction. Interbreeding with other cattle breeds, especially Holsteins, has greatly reduced the population of pure-line Watusi. The process is well described and documented, and is driven largely by economic factors. Watusi produce only a fraction of the volume of milk that a Holstein does.
It’s pretty clear to WC that this subject, triggered by a chance encounter with a very strange looking steer, could suck up an immense amount of time. It quickly gets wrapped around the axle of domestication of cattle, and the endless theories of how and where and when that took place. WC will, regretfully, leave the subject there.
But that’s how WC gets ideas for blog posts.