Tag Archives: Allergies

Alaska, USA!

To begin our escape from annual ragweed allergies, Dallas and I headed to Alaska on 20 August 2019, the day after i mustered in my bulls and hauled them away from the cows.  All according to plan.  We got away just in time, however, this was a short trip because we needed to be back in time to celebrate Allen’s Aunt June’s 100th birthday party on the 7th of September.  Monday, we had appointments to adjust our backs, hips, heads, shoulders, ribs, etc and since allergies were extremely bad with no trend down, we came home from our afternoon appointments and i started booking Iceland.  We left for Iceland on the 10th.  Another blog entry for that later.

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We flew Alaska Airlines from Kansas City to Barrow (Utqiaġvik), Alaska.  It’s a long way from our house.  Since we attended a wedding near Hamilton the afternoon before, we took separate vehicles with Allen returning home whilst Dallas and I drove on to Kansas City.  We stayed at a hotel that allowed us to park there for the duration of our holiday.   After 15 hours of flights and connections from Kansas City to Barrow, Dallas stood beneath the iconic baleen whale rib bones on the beach of the Arctic Ocean in the most northern city of the United States.
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Arctic Ocean, Barrow, Alaska
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Looking towards Point Barrow.  We could only drive within about a mile of the Point.  Mud and degraded road conditions preclude going further – plus, you pretty much have to obtain permission from private landowners to go any further.
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Bowhead Whale Skull – these buggers are huge and are still hunted in traditional wooden boats with harpoons during the spring by local  Iñupiat,

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In an October 2016 referendum, city voters narrowly approved to change its name from Barrow to its traditional Iñupiaq name, Utqiaġvik. The governor had 45 days to rule on the name change and it was officially adopted on December 1, 2016.

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Yup, proof – we was there!
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Main airport terminal at Utqiaqvik (formerly known as Barrow), Alaska.  Name of the airport is the Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport.
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All the dumpsters were decorated as part of a town beautification project.
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Rebuilding the ocean wall protecting the town from the constant waves needs regular attention.
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This is the old Top of the World hotel which burnt August 31, 2013.  We stayed at the new one located on the north beach.  Highly recommend.

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Evidence that this area has been settled since at least 800 AD.  Remains of horses and musk ox indicate that this area was much warmer in the past than it is now.
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Since there are no roads and rails from Barrow to Fairbanks, we flew, then hailed a cab for a trip to our hotel.  Our hotel did provide a free shuttle, but i had no phone service in Alaska!!  One of the spots that Chariton Valley Wireless doesn’t quite reach i guess.  The iconic Moose Antler Arch – Gateway to Fairbanks.  Antler Arch web cam
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Downtown Fairbanks is an historical and tourist destination.  The locals have created a wonderful place to learn about this city’s unique contribution to US history.  If you have time, read the above Vignette of History about the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.  Amazing structure.
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The horizontal support is topped with a Teflon type product which allows the pipeline to slide back and forth as needed to accommodate the 39,000 earthquakes (about every 15 minutes) Alaska experiences each year.
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Sure you can rent a car out of Fairbanks and drive to Denali, but the train provides a different view and experience.  We chose the dome top full service guided car.  Well, we did have to pay for our meal.
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Hiking in Denali National Park
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Ptarmigan – Alaska state bird.

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There are no fish in the glacial melt in Denali National Park because there is so much gray silt in the water.  However, someone thought they spotted a fish, so this multi million dollar overpass is being built courtesy of you the taxpayer just in case there was one.
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Beaver dam on the Horseshoe Lake Trail.  There are a multitude of easy and moderate trails in the park.

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Not just big ole mushrooms are grown in Alaska.  Despite the short growing season in days, the length of daylight each day compensates and record breaking produce is grown and exhibited at the state fairs.  The 2019 pumpkin weighed 2051 lbs!
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There’s the engine pulling our McKinley Explorer dome topped car – Alaska Train Denali to Anchorage
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Gray silt-filled glacial melt water just outside Anchorage.
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Not as much to do as i expected there would be in Anchorage, but a highlight is this well maintained Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.  We didn’t walk the whole thing (11 miles one way), but we enjoyed part of it.  There are no grocery stores in the touristy areas.  Historical and cultural museums are great as well as the city tour on the Anchorage Trolley.

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Annuals Scheme – Final Analysis

Today marked the last day of my experiment with rotatilling, pneumatic drilling/harrowing, and grazing annuals as part of a pasture improvement scheme.

Grazing comparison data is as follows:

2013-2014 – Paddock 22 – 3218 lbs, Paddock 23 – 1871 lbs  Total:  5089 lbs

2014-2015 – Paddock 22 – 3567 lbs, Paddock 23 – 2007 lbs  Total:  5574 lbs

2015-2016 – Paddock 22 – 2072 lbs, Paddock 23 – 1222 lbs  Total:  3294 lbs

2016-2017 – lost all my records

2017-2018 – Paddock 22 – 1547 lbs, Paddock 23 – 695 lbs    Total: 2242 lbs

As you can imagine, i was shocked at the lack of grazing days provided by the annuals, but this was my first experience.  When i turned them in on the annuals, the cows and calves grazed it all down in four days!  In a few days, i was able to turn them back in for a couple more days grazing to boost that yield just a bit.  However, at this point, the paddocks will take a very long rest.  One thing i did not observe and record in previous years and that is cow condition.  At least for this year, these cows were slick and shiny healthy coming off the annuals, but they were that way going in, too.  So…..

So, in a nutshell, it cost me a total of $1842.12 to plant 18 acres of annuals for grazing.  The purpose of annuals to help rejuvenate the soil microbe community and not necessarily for gain in grazing.  Good thing, because it certainly failed in that department.  However, as i had written before, the goal is to eradicate toxic fescue and build organic matter.  It does look like that has happened at least in short term.  It is very hard to measure long term benefits.   However, from this point, i’m planning to tack the sail and switch to tilling then no-till a permanent ley (grassland).  Whether or not that will work remains to be seen, but i’m keen to find a way to reduce then eliminate any tractor work.  I hope to get that scheme underway and perhaps even completed this week.  This new scheme, although i do plan to till before planting to permanent ley, will provide a side by side comparison of planting annuals first vs planting permanent pasture once and done.  There will be a few spots, too, that won’t be tilled and seeds will be drilled straight into established pasture.

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I drive through the annuals with my Gator to make it easier to set up a polybraid fence through it.
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Grazed part next to ungrazed annuals.  That tall stuff still standing in common ragweed.
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My ground is very poor in most areas and this is all it will grow in a 65 day period of the annuals.

 

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This is along the fence line (see fence on the left).  What a difference in where i tilled and planted vs undisturbed.  The ubiquitous Kansas ragweed (lanceleaf) is still thriving where it is undisturbed.

 

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Those cows didn’t waste any.  They really, really enjoyed eating the succulent annuals and snarfed down the volunteer yellow foxtail.  The stalks are trampled nicely.
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This is a close up of the left behind common ragweed.  That step in post is 36 inches tall.
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A closer look at the Kansas (lanceleaf) ragweed in undisturbed soil.  Same step in post.
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Larger area shown here of what is left of the annuals after grazing.

Additional thoughts and observations:

Grazing days – 4 days on 18 acres with 146 cows, 110 calves, and 6 bulls

Labor – setting up and taking down polybraid – two strips – 3 hours.

There is general concern that the annuals need to be stripped off for best utilisation because of the assumption that the cows will destroy too much of the forages.  However, my experience is that there was very little waste overall and certainly not enough to justify 3 hours of labor in stripping off small sections.  Having said that, i have to quantify that one strip allowed access to only 4 1/2 acres, then 5 acres, then about 8 1/2 acres.  Perhaps larger sections would have shown more waste.

If conditions allowed less work setting up and taking down and one had more valuable annuals, then it may be better to take advantage of the benefits of strip grazing.

Post grazing observations:

  1. where the soil was tilled and planted with annuals, the Kansas ragweed did not grow, but giant ragweed was there, though, far from as thick as an untilled/unplanted paddock.
  2. Trampling of annuals was negligible – nearly all had been eaten with the exception of a few sunflower plants.
  3. The pneumatic harrow needs a work over since there were a lot of skips in seed application.  Thankfully, the yellow foxtail proliferated thickly in the tilled soil to keep the soil covered.  Actually better than the annuals and the cows loved it.

Stuck In the House

What does a woman do when she is stuck inside due to extreme ragweed allergies!?  It is frustrating because the weather is starting to cool off and there is always SO much to be done outside.  Fences need repair, brush needs cutting, barns cleaned out, livestock needs shifting to new paddocks…… the list is endless.  Up until this year, youngest son, Nathan, would do my basic chores (shifting livestock, checking water) from mid-August to mid-October, but he is off to uni this fall, so the task has fallen to Rick, our new hand whom we hope stays on to become manager – he is certainly capable.  So, while I’m grateful,it’s frustrating as well.

So, after spending most of last week at my farm in south Missouri (Dallas and I were hoping our allergies would be somewhat alleviated, and surprisingly for me, i did find some relief, not so much for Dallas) and redesigning and setting up the working corral and trampling through a ‘jungle’ of a small timber patch to string out some polywire in preparation for fencing it off this winter and we started tearing out an old house, but wrong time of the year for that – i got stung on my upper lip just straight away.  OUCH!  brought tears to my eyes!

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Built up dust on the leading edges of ceiling fan blades.

This week, we are back home, so my major goal is to ‘fall’ clean the house.  Spiders have built webs in every nook and cranny inside and out, so lots of vacuuming and dusting.  Of course, I vacuum all the furniture; under and around the arms and cushions, and turn them over to vacuum the dirt and dust from underneath.  Cobwebs in the corners, from ceiling to walls, and walls to floors.  Climbing a ladder to wash off the center and blades of our two ceiling fans and dusting the leaves of our one inside plant.  Dusting the tops and back of wall photos and pictures, top of furniture, and all the wooden trim and doors.  And definitely under the floor grates which cover the return air ducts.

Cobwebs everywhere!
Cobwebs everywhere!

One tip I learnt as a travel consultant when on Fams and checking hotel rooms, was to run your finger along the top of doors and/or shower rods.  If there is dust, then the room is NOT clean.

Washing windows is sort of an outdoor job, so I can only do so much of that at a time before becoming overwhelmed with allergy attack.  But i can plug away at it.

Additionally, Monday i listed a bunch of unneeded items to sell on Ebay, paid bills, and RIck and i pulled the CIDRs, administered Estrumate, applied heat detection patches, and mouthed a few of the 17 recip cows because the needed ear tags and i didn’t know how old they were.  The ear tag number starts with the year they were born.  For example, a four year old cow’s number would start with a ‘1.’  This took about an hour, so i was struggling a bit by the time i could get back into the a/c.  Took a break, then went back out to let out the cows into the pasture south of our house for observing and ran water for them.

Of course, breakfast, lunch, and supper preparations are everyday.

Froze up a couple gallons of green beans, cooked down, slipped off the skins, and froze a gallon of tomatoes.

Until tomorrow!

tauna

Climbed up in the back of my Gator to drill a hole large enough for this solar lantern to fit snugly into.  When it's really dark outside, I can't even find our own driveway!  Hopefully this will help.
Climbed up in the back of my Gator to drill a hole large enough for this solar lantern to fit snugly into.  When it’s really dark outside, I can’t even find our own driveway!  Hopefully this will help.

Debilitated by ragweed allergies keeps me busy inside!

If there is any good to be had by this allergy, it is that every nook and cranny of our house is dusted, vacuumed, and scrubbed (we have hardwood floors).  Furniture is moved and wiped down from behind and underneath.  Every chair spindle and nightstand leg. Even the deep, dark recesses of the wardrobes.  Not my favourite of tasks, but a rewarding one nonetheless.   And my favourite travel agent, fam (familiarization) trip, hotel site inspect check – wipe clean the top of every door.   You know, the kind of cleaning you can’t hire anyone to do well.   Clean everything you say – then they ask, ‘do you want me to clean that?’  Quizzically, you wonder if the assignment is unclear or is it a trick question!?

Deep down cleaning beats giving the tops a quick swipe at least twice a year.   However, the windows – the outside anyway – cannot be washed because letting outside air, heavy with the yellow dust of ragweed pollen, will set me off with non-stop sneezing, wheezing, itching skin, eyes, ears, watering red eyes, scratchy throat, and, in some cases, difficulty in breathing, resulting in not being able to talk for several hours.   Being inside with air conditioning is my only relief with Benadryl able to manage only the mildest attack, which may occur when i’m inside.

Some people fortunate enough to find natural ‘cures’ for their seasonal allergies have willingly shared their findings  and though I try most,  unfortunately,  none have put the slam-dunk on my nemesis. I’m headed next week to another allergist for consultation and prick testing; perhaps this time a magic potion can be developed for me.  What kinds of allergies, if any, do you have, and what works to control them!?