August 14, 2005


This stupid computer ate my post, so here goes AGAIN. emoticon


 Yesterday’s Farmer’s Market continued to grace us with strong flower sales. Even the eggplants sold well, yay! We met again with our bee mentor, and soon will get together to work on hives. We discussed a honey-for-extraction trade-off, since the machines to take the honey out of the combs are more pricey than having a few hives justifies. We received a beekeeper’s supply catalog in the mail. Beekeeping seems to be a lot like computers–wierd names and arcane objects, and conversations the uninitiated don’t understand. Hopefully it all becomes clear when you have the bees in front of you!

I write this post from our brand-new iMac G5 with 21 inch monitor, wireless keyboard and wireless optical mouse. It was dumb luck–a limited number of these were for sale at the UCD Bookstore for $600 under value, and with a free iPod to boot. We planned to get a new computer to replace the ailing old one after our loan went through, so the timing was a little early but still serendipitious in general. The machine we were going to buy was less nice and would have cost $200 more–go figure.

In non-farm news, this has been some great "look at the stars" conditions lately! We had a chance to view the southern sky last weekend. There’s a lot going in between Saggitarius and Scorpio, nebulas and globular clusters and open clusters oh my. And we saw Neptune–tiny and so very blue. It’s amazing, Neptune was at its closest approach to earth for the year. A thousand thousand earths could fit inside, yet it is a steady blue dot that requires some kind of optical device to even see it. Space is really, really big. We only have yet to see Uranus and Pluto for the planets of our solar system, maybe by the end of the month we can spot the former one in the telescope.

The following is a nugget from work (my day job, that is), and I’m not making any of this up. As some of you know, I work for the state veterinary diagnostic lab system. One of the things done there is to find out why animals die, sort of a "CSI Miami" for cows and sheep, if you will. We had an adult Holstein dairy cow, that had died suddenly. As the pathologist sliced away, I overheard him talking about the fluid and infection he was seeing in the pericardium (sac surrounding the heart), and that he hadn’t seen the wire yet. The "wire" part caught my attention so I began listening closely. I learned that in the digestive tract of the cow, there is a section that lies only an inch or so from the heart, and that it is possible for the cow to ingest wires (the metal kind), and for the wire to then penetrate the tissue in this exact spot, gradually wiggling its way toward the heart of the unfortunate cow, which will then drop dead. But it got better. I then heard them talking about "looking for the magnet". Magnets? My supervisor must have seen the look of incredulity on my face. She proceeded to tell me that it is common practice to bolus (shove down throat) a cow with a magnet about the size of an egg. The magnet goes to the rumen (first of cow’s four stomachs) and stays there, entrapping stray bits of metal that the cow eats, which keeps said metal put and prevents wandering metal from damaging the cow. Apparently wire, automotive batteries, scrap metal, anything that could be bound up into a bale of hay accidentally, can and will be consumed by the cow’s vacuum-like style of eating. Sure enough, moments later a magnet with junk attached was produced for me to look at. Sometimes truth is strange……this illustrates one reason why I really like my job. It pays poorly, but I get a free education in animal medicine from some of the finest minds in the field. Since I want mammalian farm animals some day, this is pretty invaluable to me!


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