National Geographic : 1948 Feb
William H. Bischotf Motionless as a Floating Log, a Big Alligator Lies in Wait for Unwary Waterfowl, Fish, or Small Mammals He is not choosy about his diet; he will eat anything that flies, walks, crawls, or swims, and is small enough for him to kill. This specimen, now in captivity, was taken in the Everglades. Alligators more than four feet long still may be hunted in many Florida counties during a nine-month open season. Nine counties give the long-victimized creatures year-round protection by law. nets, twines, fabric fire hose, packings, and upholstery-even for cigarette papers and vitamin A. A sign beside farm buildings just west of Clewiston read: "Sugarland Ranch, Home of Molasses Fed Beef." "What's this about cows eating molasses?" I asked Mr. Ferris. "Come out on the range and I'll show you," was the rejoinder. Astride his favorite horse, Cracker Boy, Ferris followed the jeep I shared with the head rancher. We took a sack of cottonseed pellets to throw as bait to the bovines. A mixed group of Brahman, Angus, Here ford, and Shorthorn cattle had their heads in a feed trough. "There you are!" grinned Ferris. Sure enough, the blocky animals were lapping blackstrap mo lasses with all the gusto of pickaninnies ear deep in watermelon (Plate XIV). "We've found that blackstrap, supple mented with proper roughage, adds pounds to steers like bonbons plump a dowager," Ferris stated. "Sweets spoil human appetites; molasses makes our cows hungrier." U. S. Sugar's Sugar land Ranch pampers 5,000 cattle in four purebred herds on 4,400 acres of improved pasturage. Truck Gardening Is Big Business Agriculture has boomed all around the south and east shores of Lake Okeechobee, ringed with a broad band of deep, organic muck. Bumper winter crops of green beans, cabbage, escarole, cel ery, radishes, peppers, eggplant, lima beans, peas, potatoes, and let tuce are annually bring ing wealth and work to this thriving region. Farming still is something of a gamble, however, for floods and frosts inflict heavy damage almost every year. Despite climatic uncertainties, demand for south Florida winter truck crops has made Belle Glade one of the largest vegetable ship ping points in the United States. Palm Beach County, where most of these Everglades agricultural lands are situated, is one of the major vegetable-producing coun ties in the United States. Last season, 13,300 carloads of fresh vegetables rolled away from the lake area alone. Truck shipments swelled the totals cleared to hungry markets.