Thursday, 20 September 2012

The loss of paper?


This morning I was browsing through the ASAS newsletter and stopped to read this article.
Pros and Cons of hen lab Records Go Digital

Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done!
I found myself nodding along, agreeing with the author.  I love my paper lab notebook.  It follows me from farm to field, and back to campus for the 'real lab' work.  Everything goes in.  Even if it's just a note saying that I fed and everyone is healthy and happy.  But there are things that never do make it into the lab notebook.  There are huge data files generated from indirect calorimetry and most of our analyses, from nitrogen to VFAs to Chromium and more are done by automated machines that give you a data file, not a paper result.  Those rarely get transcribed in their entirety to the notebook.

Not the time to be trying to type.
But giving up the paper completely?  No, I can't, or won't rather, take my laptop out to the farm to record pH values on rumen fluid or rumen contents weights.  I know what my papers come back looking like after that, and it it's pretty...  I can pick up a pen when my hands are in gloves and covered in who-knows-what to jot a quick note in the book, but I'd never type on a keyboard that way.  And sometimes, those notes are crucial later when analyzing the data.

Right now, I live in a world or half paper, half digital, and that's ok.  I think I manage the balance without misplacing information or forgetting what is where.  Plus, hard copies are less likely to die in an electrical storm or coffee spill (both of which I've seen happen here)!
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Monday, 17 September 2012

The Problem of Food Waste

I've got another video for you today.  This one is from BEEF magazine about food waste.  I know I'm bad about buying things and having them get lost in the back of the fridge.  Think about that on a huge scale when you add in restaurants, groceries, and other places. 

I love the 'traffic light' sticker idea!  Do you have any good tips for minimizing food loss?  Do you compost the food that you don't use?
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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Worth the Fight

Today the ag blogs have been kept busy with an idea started by Dairy Carrie.  She posted about a new song by The Departed titled Worth the Fight, which inspired her to think about how working in agriculture and agvocating was worth the fight every day, be it against the weather, animal rights activists, etc.  She asked what others in agriculture saw as worth the fight and the response has been amazing!

My roomates.
When I got to thinking about what was worth the fight, my mind went to the fact that I start a new round of experiments next week.  I love my research, but this round will involve being at the farm round the clock for ten days.  I'll be getting up every three hours every one of those nights.  I'll be eating out of a microwave again.  I'll see my steers more than my husband, since he'll be taking care of the house and the dogs.  We'll communicate by phone and email only.  I'll sleep on a cot that's far less comfortable than my bed.

I'll miss these crazy girls!

But every bit of that will be worth the fight against being tired, lonely, and uncomfortable.  At the end of it all I'll be the first to know how fescue toxicosis changes energy use and digestion in cattle.  That's an amazing feeling.  Then, I'll get the chance to tell others what I've larned and use the information to help farmers and ranchers in the southeast produce better cattle on their fescue pastures.

For me, increasing scientific knowledge and providing information to help cattle rachers is #worththefight.

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Thursday, 6 September 2012

Pig 05049

My husband and I are TED talk fans.  If you haven't ever heard of them, go look them up.  They are so cool, quick, entertaining, and informative.  Tonight we watched one that I really wanted to share.  Now I just need to find her book, it sounds quite interesting.

What does agriculture mean to you?

On his blog Agriculture Proud (which you should read if you don't already) Ryan Goodman recently asked "What does agriculture mean to you?"

I spent some time thinking about this and came up with several thoughts, but it always came back to one thing.  Feeling connected.

Agriculture provides a connection to the world around me.  There is the obvious of working outside and seeing the sun rise and set, the stars shine, the wind blow through the grass, etc.  But beyond that, getting dirt under my fingers and learning to relate to animals gives me a feeling of peace.  They are the world, they are real and natural.  By spending time in their world I can be a part of that 'real' world.

In addition, as an uncle of mine recently posted on facebook, in agriculture and nature we learn to accept that bad things happen, but we can and will persevere and get good things in the end.
"I am all about being one with nature, and savor my alone times in the garden,watching the mourning doves flap out of the field, and the curious goats and cows hoping for an over ripe or damaged treat. However, today I think mother nature was sending me some kind of message. Zen and the art of okra picking, one should expect the itchy spines of the plants, but it should not include stink bugs on my pod, wasps that sting my finger, and fire ants that chemically assault my feet."
Some people will tell you that the real world is the job, the city, doing all the grown up things and 'living life to it's fullest by doing".  I say that those people don't understand that life isn't found in paper, desks, plastic and glass.  Life is the living plants and animals.  Spending time in a pasture just feeling the sun on your skin, the wind through the grass, and hearing the animals quietly grazing.  That's real life.  At least for me.  It's about slowing down and enjoying little things, not doing and experiencing as much as possible.

I don't know that I've explained this well or not.  It really all boils down to my experiences in agriculture providing me with a sense of connection to the world around me.