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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Livestock Castration... A Dirty Job?


As I get more and more intersted in life on the farm, I search deeper and deeper into the "behind the scenes" workings, as it were. I was reading one of my daily favorite blogs called Rural Revolution detailing how Patrice and Don brought home their new Jersey heifer named Polly. In this blog Patrice noted her jealousy of a custom-made "squeeze chute."

Say what? Okay, now I have to research what all a "squeeze chute" can be used to perform. Somewhere between tagging the ears and tattooing, I start thinking of castration. Sure, I've heard of it and know what it means...but I never actually wondered how they actually DO it...until now.

So, like any good college educated dad, I went to youtube :-) First I learned how to castrate a bull calf from Penn State. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the testicles PULLED from the calf's pelvis BY HAND after a small incision allowed them to be exposed through the bottom of the scrotum. Yep. This woman just grabbed ahold of a testicle and pulled it off. She then instructed that you have to search around for the second testicle because it tends to retract after the first one gets pulled. Really? I think I would retract too!

So that's it. Pop! Pop! Rub a little betadine on there and galloping back into the field he goes. I should mention that the video does advocate a numbing agent if the animal is over 30 days old. Pshh. Numbing agent. Who needs that?

Youtube, being the ever suggestive tool that it is, offered me more links to more castrations. A very vocal calf being castrated, a hilarious snippet of the show Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe castrating a horse, and another Dirty Job episode where Mike learns how to castrate sheep...using his teeth (No, I'm not kidding).

All joking aside, its obvious that real life on the farm includes duties such as castration. You can either pay the local Veterinarian to do it or do it yourself. Personally, if my TEETH are involved, I'm calling a Vet.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bulletproof vest and leg holsters: Christmas Came Early!


A good friend of mine left a goody bag at work for me today. I was instructed to peruse the goods and pick out anything I wanted. It was left over supply from his personal stash. He is a policeman with all the guns and goodies any red blooded American could ever want.

So what better place to don my new bulletproof vest and leg holster than work? The belt was a wee tight but I'm sure that's due to my poofy scrubs...it is...right?

Thanks buddy. I can't wait to go to the range and play GI Ron.


Now I have to dig through my excess goodie bags and see what I can share with him. We've built a pretty nice barter system over the past year.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Frugal Cook's Best Friend: 30 Ways to Cook Ramen Noodles


Most of my spare time and blog efforts lend themselves to ways I save money. I couldn't help but share this article on Ramen Hacks: 30+ Easy Ways to Upgrade Your Instant Noodles.

I can't remember the first time I had a Cup-O-Noodles or my first Ramen pack but I can tell you that I lived on them throughout college. I still enjoy my own quick but delicious recipe of Campbell's Consumme condensed soup and Ramen. Beware: my kids don't call it Fart Soup for nothing.

Don't forget to add plenty of these puppies to your food storage. I'm thinking they'll last through an atomic blast (and probably not taste any different).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bye Bye Disney Rewards Chase Visa Debit Card

For a little over a year now my family has enjoyed the purchasing rewards of Chase Bank's Disney Visa Debit card program. For every $200 we spent using the credit card method of paying, we earned one Disney dollar.

The Disney dollars can be spent at Disney stores in local malls, online or at the Disney theme parks.

Imagine my dismay when I read the Bloomberg article titled JPMorgan to End Debit Rewards for Most of Its Customers in July.

The contact number for JP Morgan Chase is 1-800-935-9935. I had to call to verify the story after I read the article.

The Chase website has a link for the Disney Rewards Debit Card but when you click on it, the link does to a generic debit card page (no mention of the Disney card anywhere...ie, further confirmation RIP.) Disney's website still shows it here.

I'm pretty sure, although its Lisa's department, that we earned a few hundred Disney dollars last year through the reward program. Sure was nice when we went on our annual Disneyland trip.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. I, for one, will be happy to sever one more bank affiliation. Goodbye Chase. I believe I'll exercise my option to "bail out" this time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Being Prepared is Going Mainstream

My wife and I have been getting prepared for over a year now. We've managed to store bugout bags and almost a year's worth of food. I've read JWR's Survival Blog almost daily and Lisa has kept track of Lisa over at The Survival Mom's blog.

Here is a recent entry on SurvivalBlog whereby an LDS Cannery worker describes how the mainstream public is starting to wake up to preparedness and beginning to panic.

His cannery location began to run out of food.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Purple Potatoes Are Headed For My Garden!


Our recent Sprouts Grocery Store flyer touted $0.19/lb oranges so we set out to get some and bring them home for juicing. The oranges were there (and plenty of them) but we also came across some unusual items. Some PURPLE unusual items.

First, we found some really cool purple potatoes. Not quite as big as your usual Idahoan type but large enough to be worthy of the labor to clean, cook and eat. I snatched up a couple of pounds worth and headed down the isle.

Next, purple cauliflower was spotted and into the bag it went. A few more purchases and we were on our way home. I had already planted purple carrot seeds in our new raised-box gardens and will happily add purple potatoes as well.

As any college educated dad would do, I researched how to grow potatoes on YouTube. There was a nice, short series by ExpertVillage that contained several videos on a playlist. Just one click and they continued to play. Short and sweet.

As per ExpertVillage, I cut the potatoes into small pieces which had at least two "eyes." I have to let them "heal" for a couple of days and then into the garden they will go!

Below is a picture of my baggie full of cut purple potatoes.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Large Cabbage From Our Backyard Garden


I was amazed at how large these cabbage turned out. We finally harvested them to make room for corn. Now if we could only make cabbage taste like Krispy Kreme doughnuts...

For some perspective, here's my eldest daughter Victoria holding one for the camera. Mind you, this was one of several heads of cabbage we pulled from our garden today. I should also point out that this was our first attempt at gardening in several years. So, if we can do it...anyone can.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Great Friends, Perfect Weather...and Fully Automatic Weapons!


I almost declined when my friend from the local police department invited me out for a day of shooting. The "Range Practice" fell smack dab in the middle of church hours. After mulling it over for a bit I realized that no one would (or should) fault me for spending a few hours honing my gun skills which could ultimately protect or provide for my family.

I loaded up my shiny new shotgun which I had purchased for home protection several months earlier and headed out in the O.J. (orange jeep). I haven't fired a gun in several years and this was the virgin outting for my shotgun.

By the time the afternoon was over, I had fired an HK and AR rifle, 9mm handgun and my shiny new Remington 12 guage. I had a pinpoint blood blister on the tip of my trigger finger and my shoulders were a bit sore. I could feel the heat radiating from my head thanks to a mild sunburn across my forehead.

I helped pick up all the spent casings and thanked my friends for inviting me. My shooting knowledge and skills had increased (that's easy to do when you start at zero) and I couldn't stop smiling the whole drive home.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Raised Box Gardens from Used Wooden Pallets.


I've seen pallets around for years and heard of raised-box gardening but I never would have thought it would be happening in my own back yard.

As my wife and I get more deeply active in self sustainability, we are trying more and more new things. This weekend some friends from church came over and showed me how to tear down old wooden pallets and reassemble them into raised box garden frames.

My picture shows the end product of all three frames that were built. About three hours of time, hard work and wood screws were the only necessary ingredients (oh, and the power drill and circular saw!)

I'm sure there are several videos scattered about the internet explaining how to build these little beauties much better than I could explain. Suffice it to say it was time well spent and we now have an additional 9 cubic feet of garden per box to grow additional food for our family.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Day at the Office - Renal Infarct CT Scan


I couldn't resist posting this unusual scan I performed recently. It happens to be a friend of mine but identity isn't important. What started out as right flank pain became so severe that "Bob" came to my Emergency Room.

A routine CT Abdomen&Pelvis and Renal Ultrasound showed nothing other than a right renal cyst on the inferior pole. The patient was discharged home only to return later that night (on my shift) with increased pain. Evaluation of a second set of bloodwork showed a marked increase in white blood cells so the ER Physician decided to order a second CT Abdomen&Pelvis but with IV and PO contrast dye this time.

The image attached to this blog post shows a fully enhanced left kidney (its on the right side of the screen) and a poorly enhanced right kidney. The right kidney appears to only be receiving contrast dye in the upper and lower poles. The middle pole is almost non-existent.

With these images, the medical team was able to discern a renal infart or possible discection was in play and "Bob" was taken to the Cath Lab for stenting. He is doing much better now, one week later, and is schedule for more follow up testing to check perfusion rates.