Facts & Folkore:
Do you have guinea pigs, rabbits, chinchillas, or degus? Then you will know all about Timothy-grass or Timothy-hay, their preferred forage! It is also known simply as timothy, meadow cat's-tail or common cat's tail, and is probably named after Timothy Hanson, an American farmer and agriculturalist said to have introduced it from New England to the southern states in the early 18th century. Timothy has now become naturalized throughout most of the US and Canada. Upon his recommendation it became a major source of hay and cattle fodder to British farmers in the mid-18th century. Mountain timothy (Phleum alpinum) grows above 6,000 feet. And a "wild Timothy" was found to grow in Yosemite at the time of its discovery in 1880 but may have been a foxtail. Grasses have been cultivated as feed for people and domesticated animals for thousands of years. In Irish mythology, hungry grass (Irish: féar gortach; also known as fairy grass) is a patch of cursed grass, possibly planted by the fairies near the proximity of an unshriven corpse. Anyone walking on it was doomed to perpetual and insatiable hunger. To avoid this curse, to safely cross through hungry grass one must carry a bit of food to eat along the way (such as a sandwich or several crackers), and some beer! The beloved children's book author, Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Wait till the Moon is Full, and many others, used as one of her pen names, "Timothy Hay"!
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