Prepper dogs to the rescue!
October 17: Thursday
Planting the winter garden today! In the back of the house, we’ve got a 15’x5’ raised bed. Our biggest issue is the learning curve of with the clay soil here. Back in Fresno, everything grew easily and abundantly. You could toss a handful of seeds anywhere, and a bountiful harvest would blossom. Here, we’re having some issues. Clay soil is very dense, which makes it hard to till and limits the oxygen that can reach the roots of the veggies. It can also hold a lot of water, which puts root vegetables (like potatoes) at risk for rotting if it is a wet winter.
Starting with soil prep, we’ve just ordered a broadfork to help break up the dense soil, and we plan to add much more organic fertilizer and compost. Broadforks look like giant forks, and their massive tines are used to pierce the soil for better aeration and to more easily mix in fertilizer. Per our research, vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and squash should grow well in clay soil.
So, the current plan for our winter garden is:
Black beauty zucchini
In theory, after a couple of seasons of working organic matter into the soil and planting clay-friendly vegetables, then we should have a much easier time of things. Theoretically. In this day and age, it’s so easy to expect instant gratification from our pursuits. But, Mother Nature does not bend to our whims and wants. She works in seasons and cycles and phases. Gardening is a daily reminder that wonderful things come from hard work and patience. While I’d love to immediately have a substantial garden, it looks like this clay soil may take years to get to a point where we could once again live off of what we grow.
October 18: Friday
Spent the day prepping a presentation on head trauma for the National Park Service for tomorrow, a presentation on hyperthermia and hypothermia for a regional meeting for Monday, and a presentation on EMS mental health for Tuesday. I’m looking forward to Tuesday night when all the presentations have been given and I can take a break!
October 19: Saturday
I spent my afternoon at Cabrillo National Monument, which is the National Park in San Diego. Cabrillo is set on a peninsula, with views of downtown San Diego, Mexico, and the vast expanse of the Pacific. Cabrillo is named after the 16th C. explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who is known for being the first European to set foot on the West Coast of America. There is a great Old Point Loma Lighthouse, whale watching, and the famous tidepools. Truly a beautiful and peaceful slice of the city. While there, I gave a presentation to the volunteers about red flags of head trauma, and taught them how to hold c-spine on trauma patients with suspected spinal injury. I also spent some time chatting with people from the Federal Fire Dept., and will hopefully be able to start providing continuing education and training courses to their EMTs as well. Of all the things I did while I lived in Fresno, none was more enjoyable and rewarding than working for the NPS.
October 20: Sunday
We’re off to the Spooky Artists Bazaar in Vista, CA, so my hubby can display and sell his stunning woodrigami art pieces. This is the first time he’s going to be selling his artwork so we’re excited and nervous to see how it goes.
Post-show: How fun! Alex sold his first few pieces, and what’s even better is that he received several invitations to sell his work at some of the larger upcoming holiday craft fairs. This side gig of his is turning into a successful venture!
Overall, we’re BIG fans of having side gigs. For me, it’s writing. My book Love, Sanity, or Medical School is still on sale, and every month I receive royalty checks from my distributors. I also (obviously) keep a blog of my adventures in prepping, too. For Alex, he is now earning money with his woodrigami. “Diversifying Income” is the popular catchphrase in prepper (and business) parlance. Neither of these endeavors come close to matching our main sources of income in terms of financial numbers, but we both get so much joy and satisfaction out of what we do that the money is secondary.
As we both work in medicine, it is refreshing to also have a foot in the creative arts world. Writing and making art fulfills a different part of our brains and souls. We both also like being in full control of our own little businesses. We’re in control of the product, the hours we spend on it, development, and the marketing. There is no boss telling us what to do. As all-consuming as medicine has been in my life for the past 10 years of my training, having this creative side gig as an outlet has provided and powerful ongoing mental and emotional boost. Which is evident by the fact that I’m still writing this blog - I have no motivation other than the fact that I love writing and I love prepping. And if nothing else ever comes of this, I’m ok with that.
October 21: Monday
Another day, another set of meetings. At the first meeting, I presented on heat- and cold-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and frostbite. My evening was spent at a working dinner with a group of inspiring county employees who are working to improve care for victims of domestic violence.
For the past 10 years, I spent much of my time working on other people’s research projects. As a premed, I did radiology research looking at the link between perception of pain, and bench (laboratory) research on abdominal aortic dissections. As a med student and then a resident, I continued to join projects to help out attendings with their research. I’ve given DOZENS of lectures on topics in which I had little interest, ranging from degloving injuries, to botulism, to placing suprapubic catheters. Now, as an EMS fellow, I’m still being asked to join other’s research projects. Even though EMS is a niche within EM, there is still a HUGE variety of avenues of research. Perhaps even more than other medical fields, because we also interface directly with other community, state, and federal agencies, such as police and fire departments, park rangers, Coast Guard, Border Patrol, and many, many other community groups. Topics within EMS range from protocol review and development, to teaching paramedics, to writing book chapters and papers, to policy development, grant proposals, to running traditional research studies. I enjoy being a team player, and I find a lot of projects important and intriguing, but I’m also finally at the point where I want to pursue my own interests.
Perhaps it’s being young in my career, perhaps it’s being a female, but I have a hard time saying ‘no’ to people. There is a lot of pressure to produce papers and publications, and declining an invitation to participate in someone’s work can be seen as rude, and it may prevent them from approaching with future projects. This has, unsurprisingly, left me overwhelmed with helping others, while leaving my own stuff on the backburner. The first victim of this became this website, which quickly fell behind on all the post I wanted to do. I’ve just now finally managed to get caught up. My fall resolution is to start saying “NO” to people.
I will certainly finish up projects I’ve already committed to, but by the end of the academic year (and thus, the end of my fellowship), I’d like to be focused almost entirely on my own projects and research.
October 23: Wednesday
In our continued efforts to improve our garden yield and soil, we’ve turned to SCIENCE! In addition to research about soil in the area, we tested our own soil this morning. Turns out the soil is acidic, with a pH of 6.0. Acidic soil can cause the leaves to wilt, which is exactly what happened to our vegetables. At the opposite end of the spectrum, if the soil becomes too alkaline then the leaves can lose their color. So, now we have to figure out how to raise the pH from 6.0 to the 6.5-7.0 range.
Our broadfork has arrived! Alex assembled it, and spent a hot afternoon breaking up and aerating the beds. As shown in the pictures below, he would stick the ginormous, sharp spikes into the soil, stand on the bar, and then push the handles forward and back, using leverage and muscle to break up the dense, clay soil below.
The soil was turned and loosened to a much greater extent than was ever possible using just a tiller (which is what we had done with our first garden a few months ago). Once the bed was thoroughly broken up and aerated, we mixed in nutrient-rich soil and fertilizer.
The other item we mixed in was soil enriched with chicken manure. The purpose here was two-fold. The manure provides rich nutrients and fertilization, to help get the soil ready for our fall crops. It also helps address the issue of our soil being too acidic, as the chicken manure pH falls into the 6.5-8 range.
With the better aeration, addition of nutrient-rich soil and fertilizer, and improving the pH, we've got high hopes for our winter wonderland garden! The finals steps were adding cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Now, it'll be watering, monitoring the pH, pest and disease control, and providing the occasional pep talk to the plants. The rest is up to Mother Nature.
Recipe: Having happy, healthy prepper Dogs
Caring for another living being is a privilege, a joy, and a big responsibility. We’ve got two Rottweilers, which I’d argue are the best prepper dogs out there. Our girl Foss is turning 4 this weekend, while her little brother Argo is almost 3 and a half years old. Foss, namely after the Icelandic word for waterfall, is sweet and adores snuggling in the evenings. Bicycles and skateboards spook her, and also when children run at her to pet her. Of the two, she is definitely smarter and more reserved than her brother. Argo is named after Jason and the Argonauts. Argo is 110 lbs of pure love. He loves nothing more than being the center of attention, getting belly rubs, chasing lizards and flies, and kissing anything within reach. Neither of them understand the concept of personal space, and both believe they are still small enough to be lap dogs.
Photos of our Rotties as puppies:
Neither of the tails are cropped on our pups, thanks to the well-informed breeding practices of the family who bred them. The breeders also happen to be friends of ours, so we were able to purchase our purebred pups (with paperwork showing their purebred lineage) for a fraction of what most would probably have to pay.
Rottweilers initially had their tails cropped for historic reasons. These strong canines were used to herd cattle, and then they would pull carts carrying the butchered meat. While pulling the carts, their tails were at risk for being caught in the rope that connected their harness to the cart behind them. Their tails were initially clipped to protect the dog from a painful accident with the rope. But, then the habit of clipping the tails became the breed standard. Nowadays, many continue to clip the tails right after birth, which is unnecessary and cruel to the animal.
Big sister Foss & little brother Argo:
For those who have Rottweilers for protection, as we do, some prefer the lack of tail because the dog's mood isn’t evident to outsiders. If the tails weren’t clipped, you’d likely see that they’re pretty much always wagging, as Rotties are generally happy and good-natured dogs. However, these dogs don’t need their tails clipped to make them appear menacing. They take their job of protecting their family and their house quite seriously. When we take them out, people will often cross the street when they see us coming. Any odd sounds at night, and our dogs will instantly get into alert mode. They rarely bark, but when they do, the house shakes because it is such a deep and booming sound. Our gardener and mailman have told us on more than one occasion that they are terrified of our dogs.
There are certainly things to keep in mind when having a large dog that is considered a dangerous breed. Rottweilers need to be trained, loved, socialized, and care for. They do NOT need to be trained to be aggressive or to be protective of their family - it's already in their nature. Their loyalty is so well known that one of their monikers is ‘Velcro dogs,’ since they constantly stick to their owners. This is certainly true in our home, as Foss and Argo are constantly at our sides and following us around the house. As they are herding dogs, they don’t like when my husband and I are in different rooms of the house.
As prepper dogs, they’re perfect. They’re smart, loyal, and calm. They appear vicious but are actually gentle giants. They are lovable and goofy, yet protect us and the house fiercely, helping us feel safer at home.
Here’s a link to what the American Kennel Club (AKC) has to say about Rottweilers.
Recipe for a happy, health dog:
Food and water
Training: both our dogs went to puppy kindergarten, beginning and intermediate group training, as well as private training once they got a bit older.
Food and water: as with any animal, they need to have access to fresh water at all times. Food needs to be appropriate to their age, size, breed, and any health needs.
Vaccinations: Just as with children (and adults), dogs need vaccines to protect them against potentially deadly infectious diseases
Snuggles: these dogs, like all dogs, respond well to love and affection
Exercise: again, just like people, dogs need exercise. For us, this means walks, playing fetch, trips to beach, and hiking with their packs on.
Overall, they’re goofy, adventurous, loyal lapdogs:
What is your prepper dog? Ever had a Rottie?