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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about... Chinese New Year, the year of the Ox.


CURWOOD: While we here in the West say the new year of 1997 began on January first, in China February 7th marked the beginning of 4695, the Year of the Ox. In ancient China, oxen represented unflagging dependability, so no wonder then that according to the Chinese cosmological system, those born in the Year of the Ox are introverted, self confident, steady, and conscientious. Oxen, which are neutered bulls more than 4 years old, are still used in much of the developing world to plow fields. In China alone there are more than 53 million draft animals. They wouldn't make sense for the huge factory farms commonplace here in the United States, but as a source of farm power for poor people, oxen and other working animals have certain advantages. They come from a breeding stock which reproduces itself, and they fertilize the fields as they plow. According to one study, to replace all the draft animals in the world with tractors and trucks would cost more than $200 billion and another $5 billion each year for fuel. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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