A Bigger Hammer

My husband operates on the principle that anything can be opened, fitted into, removed or moved. You just need to pick the right tool for the job. He is the walking manifestation of “if at first you don’t succeed get a bigger hammer.” He is admittedly very skillful with his various tools, whether or not they are designed for a particular job. He once picked a cow out of a mudhole with the backhoe arm – no chains or slings, just scooped her up. I, on the other hand, am avowedly lazy and inclined to look for other ways to do things.

Recently he came home with a delicacy that we can’t grow for ourselves – canned organic mango slices. (It is never wise to let a male go to Costco without adult supervision.) Having decided that he needed an afternoon snack, he attempted to open the jar. The lid remained firmly attached. After a couple of minutes of struggling, he went outside. Having been down this road before, I figured he was after some sort of tool.

He came back in holding the wrench in the photo above. When I raised an eyebrow, he said “What?!?” I started to giggle. The giggle turned into a laughing fit. I laughed until I cried (partly because my ribs are still so sore that laughing hurts; and thank you, Denny and Little Leftie, for your supportive comments). Finally I managed to get enough breath to ask why he didn’t just run some hot water over the jar lid. He raised his tool. “Because I have these.” I laughed some more and he finally started to chuckle. Tried the jar lid again – it held firm. So I got up, held the wrench on the lid and he twisted the jar. The lid popped off immediately. I said, “See, the hot water loosened it right up.” He snarled, “I suppose this is going to be a blog…”

While it’s not actually a bigger hammer, the principle remains the same.

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We All Fall Down

I know, the blog’s been silent for the last couple of weeks. This interlude (perhaps peaceful, depending on your viewpoint) resulted from yours truly taking a header. I had a laundry basket under one arm and my can of clothespins in the other when I hooked my foot on a paver and face-planted on the driveway. Literally face-planted – I thought at first I’d broken my nose. Once I managed to spit out the gravel and catch my breath, I indulged in several minutes of rather creative swearing and then climbed to my feet. The mirror showed lacerations but the nose was intact, as were (luckily) my glasses. However, I had torqued and/or slammed much of my musculoskeletal system. My chiropractor kept saying, “You don’t usually have THIS” and “there’s another one.” Among other things, I had put out three ribs and badly tweaked my right shoulder blade. I’ve been having a thoroughly unpleasant lesson in how much I use those rib muscles for all sorts of things besides breathing. Hubby was out of town, so the two youngest helped pick up the slack, but a lot of things have gone undone around here while I focused on the absolute essentials only I could do. I’m still not back to par, but at least I can type again if I’m careful and don’t do too much at one time. So, my apologies, gentle readers, and hopefully in another week or so I’ll be back to my usual output.
Be careful out there!

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Methane and Cows

I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or scream. Some scientists looking at ways to reduce global warming have decided to target the burps and farts of cattle. You heard me. The
plan is to breed cows that produce fewer burps and farts, because those are a major source of methane, which contributes to global warming.
Methane, for the uninitiated, is a gas produced as a result of the cow’s digestive processes. Gut microbes inherited from the parents regulate the amount of methane a cow produces. The scientists say they could selectively breed cows that produce less methane. They say they know of “no downside to lowering methane emissions in this way.”

Ruminants ruminating

I say they don’t know enough to be making those kinds of statements. The gut microbiome has been in the news quite a bit lately because people are finally beginning to understand what an important role it plays in our immune system and overall health. Eating low fiber, highly processed foods and high amounts of sugar wreaks havoc with the human gut microbiome. I suspect that the way most commercial cattle are fed does the same to cows. Consider that commercial cattle feed contains such goodies as fish meal – not the sort of thing a cow in the wild would have on the dinner table. Antibiotics are another source of gut microbiome damage.

Time for a sunbath and a nap!

Like that of the human, a cow’s microbiome has developed over millions of years. From the moment a calf begins to nurse, its rumen is being correctly populated by mom’s milk and the bacteria in its environment. The bacteria interact with one another and the balance among the various strains is critical for health. Like a house of cards, mess with one of those strains and others will be affected. It’s extremely short-sighted to tinker with such a delicate mechanism. Look at the growth of antibiotic-resistant strains of gut bacteria we are dealing with because of the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed and medicine. Not to mentions that the real elephant in the room when considering climate change isn’t beef burps and farts – it’s energy production from fossil fuels.
I have a feeling this is a BAD idea.

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