Archive for the ‘Animals and the Environment’ Category

Prairie and Buffalo Preserve

Friday, March 13th, 2009

During the past week we have had two very special young ladies here—Kathy Li, Granddaughter of Lao Sheng, a very good friend of ours in Hangzhou, and Cassie Huffman, our son Jim’s daughter.  Kathy is 11 years old and Cassie is 7 years old.  They get along very well together and we have lots of fun with them.


One special place we’ve wanted to take them to is the prairie1 and buffalo2 preserve3, located about 30 miles from here.  A prairie is a large area of level or rolling4 land that in its uncultivated state5 usually has deep fertile soil6, a cover of tall coarse grass7, and very few trees.8  Before the European settlers came to Iowa, this was a rich prairie area.  Prairies had many animals living there; the biggest being the buffalo, big cattle-like shaggy9 creatures, who fed on the rich prairie grasses.  It is the animal that one sees on the U.S. five cent coin.  After the settlers came in and plowed10 the grass in order to plant corn, oats etc. the buffalo went on west11 or were hunted and killed.  Thus until recent years, very few Iowans had seen a buffalo unless it was in a zoo. 


An Iowa congressman12 who thought both prairie and buffalo should return (at least in limited amounts) to Iowa, persuaded13 the U.S. government to establish14 the prairie preserve we went to today.  There one may see a herd15 of buffalo living and grazing16 on the tall grasses of a re-established prairie17.  Kathy had never seen a buffalo and Cassie had seen them only when visiting the northwest18 so we have wanted to take them there.  We were lucky because we saw 38 adult buffalo and 7 calves19.  The girls were so excited!  Don and I loved seeing them20 too, for they are magnificent21 creatures. 


After seeing the buffalo, we went into the prairie museum22, where one can learn more about prairies, the Indians23 who used to live here, and the plants and animals of the prairies.  The girls learned a lot and want to go back there again because even though we were there two hours, there was more left to see.  As I said to them, maybe next summer!24


1. prairie: a large and relatively dry treeless area (大草原).  In the United States prairies were originally found in the states east of the Rocky Mountains.

2. buffalo (Plural buffaloes or buffalo): a wild large North American animal that has short horns and heavy forequarters, with a large hump in its back (美国野牛).

3. preserve: an area of land dedicated to maintaining both prairie plants and the animals which traditionally lived there (动植物保护区).

4. rolling (land): characterized by a series of low, gentle hills (高低起伏的).

5. uncultivated state: a state of land that has not been plowed (土地的未开垦状态). The word cultivate means prepare land and grow crops on it开垦”.

6. fertile soil: soil that is rich in minerals and nutrients (肥沃的土壤).

7. a cover of tall coarse grass: a solid growth of tall rough grass.

8. A prairie is a large area of level or rolling4 land that in its uncultivated state5 usually has deep fertile soil6, a cover of tall coarse grass7, and very few trees: 大草原是一大片平坦的或高低起伏的土地,处于未开垦的状态时,通常土壤肥沃,土层很厚,上面覆盖着一层疯长的草,很少有树。

9. shaggy: long and untidy (既长又乱的)

10. plowed v. overturned the soil using a plow (犁地).

11. the buffalo went on westthe buffalo continued to move and went west 野牛不断地向西部跑。此处went on 表示continued to go; west是副词,表示went的方向。

12. congressman: a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (美国众议院议员).

13. persuaded: convinced by argument (说服了).

14. establish: start or begin something (建立)

15. herd: a large group of animals of one kind that live together ()

16. grazing: eating grass (吃草)

17. a re-established prairie: a farmland or pastureland returned to its former prairie plant types (重新建立的草原).

18. the northwest (西北部): It refers to Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington, of which Montana and Wyoming have the most of the buffalo.

19. calves (singular calf): young buffalo (小野牛).

20. them: 指前面的“38 adult buffalo and 7 calves”。

21. magnificent (壮观的): extremely good, beautiful or impressive in appearance.

22. museum:博物馆

23. the Indians: native people of North America (美国印第安人).  Many Indians lived in the prairies of Midwestern United States before the European settlers came.

24. As I said to them, maybe next summer!: As I said to them, maybe well go there again next summer.  原来的句子省略了well go there again