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...Murakami was my first Japanese author, and I've read quite a few of his books now. I started the first page of that first book full of anticipation about learning about the Japanese culture, and the protagonist at the start is cooking Spaghetti Bolognese and listening to the Beatles!

I also read The Bonsai Tree by Meira Chand when I was a teenager - the author was Swiss Japanese and writing about a Westerner marrying a Japanese and discovering some down sides to the culture, not just the up. It was very good and I ended up reading another by her that was set in China.

If you've got some Japanese-author books to recommend, we're both interested in sampling more!
Are you interested in more modern books or older ones? Many Japanese novels seem odd compared to our culture. They approach responsibility and adversity differently, and suicide is also seen much differently. Goodbye Tsugumi is interesting, by Banana Yoshimoto. Two cousins who have grown up together, one seems like a dark character, but the other sees her with an understanding perspective. An older, very beautiful book is Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata. The imagery is very good. The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe is a bit chilling and creepy but also interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,042 ·
Oh, that all sounds interesting, I'll look those up, thanks, @gottatrot! 😎

Brett says he already has The Woman in the Dunes on the e-reader so that's easy, and also The Ruined Map by the same author, and hasn't yet gotten around to reading either, and that he has another book by Banana Yoshimoto called Mrs Ice-Cream Sandwich which he couldn't get into (but I'm going to give a shot) because he'd just read some other Japanese books which interested him more: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata which he says has a bit of black humour and interesting characters, including one he thinks was basically autistic but nobody around her realised it.

I do love reading books from other cultures which offer us different perspectives on everyday life, and good descriptions of the locality and way of life too.

Three Japanese screen dramas we highly recommend:


This one because the protagonist's oddities really come up against Japanese culture even more than they do in the West (e.g. with the BBC's recent Sherlock series). And it's just so well done, shot, written etc.

Something completely different which was so educational and enjoyable:


Just a beautiful film... 😍

Also this one...


Got any Japanese films to recommend?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,043 ·
WEIRD DREAMS

We've been having weird dreams the last two nights. Last night Brett dreamt he had accidentally driven to Perth to get some batteries or something ridiculous, which you can actually get locally or online. He then realised Perth was in lockdown and he'd not be allowed back home. (This exact type of lockdown has happened a couple of months ago and we're starting another one like that now as the Delta strain got out in Sydney and someone with the Delta strain got into Perth having initially tested negative - I don't know why they weren't instantly quarantining travellers from NSW coming into WA when the Delta strain got out there; it's been shown again and again that people testing negative can go on to test positive, just like with HIV - because there's a development period...less than 5% of the population here is fully vaccinated and less than 25% have had their first shot... and of course the current vaccines may not be effective against some of the new strains developing now...)

I dreamt that I'd ordered some special baking premix from overseas - similar to the bread premixes I actually use (to mix with stoneground flours at a proportion that results in bread that's not a brick). This one was special because it was oatmeal-based and had special microbial cultures in it that gave you a sourdough fermentation, if you made a dough from it and left it to mature, etc. You could then keep your sourdough starter going in the usual way.

So there were ten packets of this and for some reason I thought I had to use them up, and was frantically baking these big apple strudels made with this dough. Usually you'd make (German) apple strudels with a paper-thin pasta dough, but these were made like (German) apple pockets, with a microbially raised dough (for standard apple pockets, you just use yeast, which is a unicellular fungus, but this special mix had a variety of species including bacteria, as in sourdough).

All this was happening in someone else's kitchen, with strange equipment. There were these rectangular tray things with bamboo covers over the top and I was frustrated when I was trying to clean them because the opening in the cover for accessing the tray beneath was really narrow. Then I worked out that if you closed that access hatch you could slide the whole bamboo cover out of the way from the side. I never worked out why these things had bamboo covers. There was also another contraption with a cover like that which harboured gas burners underneath and I realised when looking through the cupboard that one of the gas burners was still going on low. That horrified me because of the bamboo cover and the possibility of starting a fire, and I turned it off.

Someone else was working with me at this point and she was rolling some pastry out, and laughing about the earthworms in it - and I had a look, and she'd rolled out two earthworms that were in the pastry till they were flat. Poor earthworms - and I wasn't going to eat that, it didn't look very appetising.



I then realised the earthworms came from the premix and read the booklet that came with the product. It said that they indeed had worms in their premix but not to worry, they only ate the premix so it was all perfectly clean, and that they were special worms adapted to this diet who therefore had a super gut flora for digesting the premix, and that this was the basis for the microbial mix featured in this type of sourdough. However, please sift out the worms and return them to some premix or other flour to do their work, and don't actually include them into your dough and bake them.

My awake assessment is that the microbiology part is actually plausible - but earthworm-type worms couldn't live in the dry premix (mealworms can). Also it's true it would be a clean process, just as happens when you put culinary snails in bran for a while before eating them to purge them - and even earthworms get this treatment, for those who use them in their snacks, and don't laugh, this was a thing in the 90s and our local Department of Agriculture was even putting out information sheets on how to grow and purge earthworms, and recipes for using them...

More info on that here: Earthworms - Eat The Weeds and other things, too
 

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That was certainly interesting! Thanks for sharing. Of course, the very famous children's book How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell is a huge favorite with kids.

The worm discussion triggered a memory of long ago for me. I was sitting in church, age about 9 or 10, and the pastor was describing how terrible life was in Biblical times. He said the people were reduced to eating earthworms. And then he repeated, quite loudly, "EARTHWORMS!" as if that was the most shocking thing you could ever imagine.

I remember being quite shocked. The pastor was sweating and almost trembling. I thought about me eating earthworms and it did sound quite dreadful. But, I continued thinking about it. At the time of my childhood, TV was fairly new, and we watched whatever was on. There were a lot of nature programs and informational programs about native life in other countries. I was well aware that other cultures ate things that I wouldn't feel comfortable eating.

I thought that perhaps eating earthworms in Israel in Bible times might have just been a cultural thing, and not something horrible that only starving people did. I thought perhaps my pastor had not done all the research he should have done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,045 ·
..after all, you pastor probably enjoyed eating condensed bee vomit, @knightrider!

Which is what honey is. It's amazing how often I've asked kids in class, "If a friend of yours came back from Africa with this jar of stuff all excited and said, 'You've got to try this, it's so nice, it's actually bee vomit but it's delicious!" would you eat it?"

And got predictable sounds of disgust and mass vows never to eat such a thing. And after a while, pointed out to them they had all eaten it already and most of them enjoyed it. Also that they ate plant ovaries (apples, etc) and plant embryos (in almonds and other nuts, in grains, in flour), not to mention assorted animal body parts. Also that plant sperm (pollen) flies through the air each spring. Stop the world, I want to get off etc. I'll only ever eat celery from now on, etc.

But usually a bit more reconciled to it the next day! 🤪

The Twits by Roald Dahl also has a nice chapter on "wormy spaghetti"...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,046 · (Edited)
Further to this post:

Some vaguely good news is that I'm less stressed out about the medical support situation with Sunsmart. I've switched to the more local vet closest to us who treated Nelly when she was acutely ill a couple of weeks ago and she came out to see him this morning. I really liked her manner with Nelly last time and just find her easy to communicate with, and she took a lot of time over her animal consults, compared to the previous vet who was further away (= double the mileage) and always rushing around because his practice is so busy. I'd ended up feeling on my own with Sunsmart and his Cushings, paying $880 a year on Prascend mark-ups just for the practice supplying it to me, and the fact that my horse got sharp edges on his incisors as a result of dental work done on him at the time of his Cushings crisis in March/April last year (which also IMO took too much off the molars as all three horses had more difficulty chewing after the dental treatment than before).

The sharp edges I think had come from the incisors being ground down and then it seems nobody finger-checked the enamel edges and tapered them off, because I saw a couple of days later that he had cuts in the front of his tongue that were ulcerating, and finger-checked myself and found the super-sharp edges, which after spending several hundred dollars on dentals should not have been there. I called the practice about it but I don't think vets like believing bad press about dentals - anyway, he said he'd pop out to assess and fix the situation next time he was near our area and then I waited and waited while my horse's tongue got more and more cut up, and a number of days later I gave up, equipped myself with a diamond nail file and blunted the sharp edges myself. It then took weeks for the poor horse's tongue to heal up because he was in such a bad state with his Cushings breakthrough (and he took three months to improve on the tripled medication) - he had trouble with infections and gum bleeds and wound healing in those months and was losing weight, had no interest in going around with the herd, was just dragging himself around and apathetic.

I never did hear from the vet again about those edges; he must have forgotten about us with his busy practice. I'd been a bit miffed that when he was phoning through blood results after the tests he kept referring to Sunsmart as "she" - yes, people can make mistakes, but it sort of indicates there's maybe a bit too much going on if a vet can't remember the sex of a patient he's seen several times. The lab panels had a ? next to the sex. Don't get me wrong, I think this is a very competent vet, just perhaps a bit much on? But it doesn't feel great.

So I kind of soldiered on with this horse on my own, and the next I heard from the practice is when I re-ordered Prascend earlier this week and was emailed back, "Oh, we can't dispense it to you without blood tests this time and our quote for doing that is over $500." I was down to a week's supply of drugs and felt like I had a gun held to my head: Pay up, or your horse falls off a cliff (which I'm pretty sure he would after experiencing what happened to him when the initial medication levels were no longer enough summer before last). And since they were indicating yearly re-tests that would have meant $2,500 a year to treat him.


Romeo, 2017

The cumulative cost of Romeo's care for his last five years worked out at $10,000 when we added it up after he died, and we swore never to do that kind of cumulative hit again, since this would easily have covered the cost of the driveway we could never afford until last year. Parking 25 metres from the house in wet winter weather and continuing on with gum boots through a lake of mud to get to the house is one thing if it's just the two of you, but it also affected our farmstay guests the first winter we were open, and that was not a good look. We're limited for raising extra cash: Brett is fully extended with his super-busy stressful job, although he sometimes volunteers to do overtime, and I'm fully extended here at home trying to get through all the to-do lists around the house, vegetable garden, farmstay, grounds and general building and farm maintenance jobs (plus I trim all the hooves here), and besides, the reason I had to give up my professional job was trouble speaking after one laryngeal nerve packed in over a decade ago, and you can't teach lessons all day on one functioning vocal cord, and that has somewhat limited my options, which is why we built our own house, had a go at growing our own food, I wrote freelance for a couple of magazines for ten years, and I started the farmstay.


Our three horses in 2017

And there's a bit of income coming off these activities, but there's also large things looming like having to deal with rotting boundary fencing (we have about 3km of 30-60-year-old post-and-wire perimeter fencing), building a basic set of cattle yards in the next two years, and figuring out what to do about our solar-electric system backup in the long term. Also we were kind of hoping to be able to take on the Owner Builder magazine, and that would require a fair bit of up-front funding too (e.g. you pay the printer $15,000 in advance to print an issue and don't recoup it until the sales come in).


Boundary fence with road

So the last thing we needed, after having one high-maintenance retiree, was to have another one with comparable ongoing costs, but Sunsmart had his Cushings crisis a year after Romeo died and then became medically high-maintenance, with a tripling of his previous medication costs taking it into the same ball park as where we'd been with Romeo. And then, to be asked for an extra $500 before I could get his next pack of Prascend.


March 2019

Anyway, the good news out of today was that we discussed the pros and cons of various blood tests, which given a new person was taking over treatment I could see more sense in. So we decided together that a general blood panel, which they could do in-house, was useful (also to make sure his treatment wasn't damaging his liver) and could be used as a basis for ordering further tests if necessary. The general blood panel came back all good in all respects and so a re-test of ACTH etc wasn't seen as a huge priority. While I'm buying my next lot of Prascend off their practice because I'm too short to order it online with a script this time around, at least that's a possibility. Also the vet suggested it is theoretically possible that 1 tablet a day would keep his symptoms in check instead of the 1.5 we were giving him as a result of the severe crisis he'd had summer before last, and we could investigate that further (one reason ACTH levels are sometimes useful to know). I'd had him on 1 tablet for the last three days to stretch out my diminishing supply in the face of the situation because I preferred potentially underdosing him for a week to the idea of him having a gap in his medication. I don't particularly want to find out if that's enough to maintain him by having him go into another crisis, so I'll think more about that. I'd probably rather play safe. And if I can get a script for an online order, it would take over 40% off the previous treatment cost.


May 2021, Cushings stable and in good shape
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,048 ·
It's looking a bit more doable now though, @Knave. I think I'll play it by ear. And maybe freelance some more articles somewhere, or come up with some bright idea. We don't just have horses to look after, and other animals, there's also the whole property and the 50-hectare native ecosystem in it, and the farmstay, and all sorts of things to juggle that you don't need to juggle if you're agisting, and working an ordinary job. I've done that too, and the costs are far more predictable and there's a lot more emergency funds and not so many emergencies! 🙃
 

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He looks so good in that picture of him from May.

Have you considered one of the online English teaching programs, working with professionals who need one-on-one tutoring to learn the language for their career? My understanding is that it can be fairly flexible in terms of scheduling, and you are paired with the student for a reasonable amount of time so you get to know them a bit. Just a thought!
 

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Sounds like you have a lot to juggle!

Glad you found a vet that will rationalize costs and tests/treatment with you. We had a similar experience with a vet when our dog was unwell last year. One vet was all in on recommending every test and treatment under the sun with a cheery smile (thinking of the $$ for her) and "shall I go print you off a quote for that?". Whereas the other helped us rationalize out a much more cautious and cheaper approach.

Ultimately, our dog had an aggressive oral cancer that we decided was not treatable (within an amount of $$ that we would be comfortable spending and it was likely it would only prolong his life by a few months if we did treat it). Even then, we ended up sending about $2500 over 4 months on tests, pain relief, and then euthanasia + cremation (as we do not have sufficient space to bury a dog and the kids wanted him back).

Initially, because he had mouth pain and a couple of loose teeth, they thought it was dental. So we paid a decent chunk of money on cleaning and tooth removal, so that did not help (either with his pain or our finances when he ended up having cancer). Then they thought it could be his kidneys because he was drinking a lot, which was the point at which the eager vet was recommending all and sundry in terms of tests and treatments and I was like "woah, just slow down". That was when we saw a different vet who said it could be x, y, z but it is not clear right now, so they recommended we just wait and it would become apparent soon (rather than paying for unnecessary tests).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,051 · (Edited)
@egrogan, I had no idea I could do that online and actually this is something I'd love to do! 🤩 I miss teaching and love the quirks of language teaching and laughing with students about the many foibles of the English language, and showing them tricks for getting around those. (Do you like mnemonics? I made one up that got all my students doing the UK/Aus spelling for "manoeuvre" correctly - "Remember, Ollie Eats Underpants!" which they said was unforgettable. 😅) There's a lot of scams online so I would be really grateful if you could tell me a good programme to approach. That is such a brilliant idea. I love working with people! 😀

@MeditativeRider, I'm so sorry to hear about your dog. 🙁🐙 (The octopus is my substitute hug emoji since the forum changed platforms and we lost the coolest emojis on the Internet, many of which were animated. We had a great animated hug emoji and also one of a person rolling around on the floor laughing, and a person falling off a horse in a great arc, and those got regular use around here and could even be made into sort-of cartoon stories...)

Yeah, it is good to be able to work around the realities a bit with someone, because the criteria and expense for gold standard medical/veterinary care keep skyrocketing and are actually out of reach for a lot of our population - though not so much the medical here in Australia, since we have an excellent Medicare system which is not-for-profit, everyone pays into via tax (2.5% of income, less for below-average earners, more for above-average earners), and gets decent care when they really need it, although that's not necessarily gold standard because there can be a doubling of cost for a 10% improved outcome etc and that's taken into account with our public system, and I think should actually always be taken into account, since few people have a golden goose that lays golden eggs and even if they do, should be able to do their own cost-benefit analysis for their situation.

Two examples of "the gold standard" actually interfering with getting good equine health care on the whole are:

1) The advent of power tool dentistry, which has doubled the price of horse dentals but not doubled their effectiveness - power tool dentistry doesn't increase the time span to follow-up treatment compared to conventional manual filing, let alone double it; and in my own experience has resulted in several problems I never saw in 40 years of manual filing either on my own horses or those of people I know. The worst thing that could happen with manual filing is that not enough was taken off, so you'd just go back and do more (after administering the carrot test). It's my opinion that the molars of my horses were overly ground down with the power tools and that's why they had issues eating after the appointment, including eating carrots, that they didn't actually have before (they were just done because it had been a year and that's now "standard") - and I've heard some reports like this from other people around the world as well. My new vet, who also uses power tools, says this can happen and you have to be very careful not to overdo it (which is so much easier to get right IMO if you're doing a manual job which is slow and you can feel at your end too). I prefer the old way of doing dentals - they worked fine in all the horses I had anything to do with over 40 years, and they didn't require even placid horses to be sedated. If it's not broken, don't fix it - let alone invent some new "gold standard" that doubles cost, which, in the absence of magically increasing incomes in parallel, for most people means they can now only treat half their herd, or treat at longer intervals than before, rather than as-needed with a relatively inexpensive, time-honoured, effective system.

2) Ridiculous ideas about the need for surgically sterile environments for minor problems. When I asked for a wound edge to be cleaned up on my horse after a lump that turned out to be a lobulated lipoma fell off his umbilical area, the vet I had then (someone completely different, two vets back) said that I would need to trailer the horse to his surgical facilities. I was astonished. The wound was the diameter of a peach, the weather was good, and this was the kind of case that when I was growing up, veterinarians would have given a short-acting anaesthetic there and then to drop him on the grass, cut off the ragged bits at the edge, dress the wound and get the horse back on its feet. I've been to tumour extraction surgeries that were performed like this, on the grass, in good weather, and with very good outcomes. Insisting on taking cases like that to expensive equine theatres these days IMO isn't good use of resources, and ramps the costs of such relatively minor surgeries (we're not talking body cavities, just cutaneous) up astronomically (not just double), which means that treating such matters is now out of the reach of a lot of people.

To be honest, I wonder sometimes if people who insist on such "surgical standards" should be large animal vets - maybe they should do humans, or small animals, and leave large animal doctoring to people who aren't primadonnas about their work environments and understand that the interests of large animals are best served by procedures which are affordable to the average large animal owner. If you're wondering what happened to my wound cleaning case, after I made clear I wasn't trailering the horse into a surgical facility he was sedated and had an elastrator ring applied to the biggest bit of ragged wound edge. This made him uncomfortable for a week or two and did not give the same results or speed of healing decent surgical wound edge cleaning would have given him. It was better than nothing, but a huge step backwards from what would have happened when I was a kid.

Also, incidentally, the veterinarian in question said that wasn't a lobulated lipoma, it was something malignant, and that he expected the horse to die in the next year or so and I should get ready. Because I'd frozen the tumour to preserve it after it fell off, it wasn't soft when I presented it to the vet (it was frozen, duh) and he said, "No, lipomas are soft, this is not a lipoma." It was a bloody lipoma, by definition - made of fat, round, non-invasive, and benign too - the horse is still alive, as I expected him to be, over half a decade on and is showing no signs of metastasising cancers through his system that were predicted by our Dr Doom who apparently forgot about the kinetic theory taught at Year 10 level in high school (solids, liquids, gases, the effect of temperature increases and decreases on each etc).

Here endeth my rant - for now. Anyway, it's good to find a practical vet who actually likes working with large animals - I can see it in her demeanour - and who takes her time and considers all sorts of possibilities instead of grandstanding one instant diagnosis, or one particular approach. We had a vet like this for a while - he was actually a locum of Dr Doom and excellent every time we had him out, and at one stage he saved my Arabian mare back in 2009 after a botched stomach tubing performed by an emergency vet for a choke - that vet hadn't cleared the obstruction, just pushed it further down the oesophagus, and when water continued to come out of my mare's nose whenever she tried to drink after that procedure, I called that vet out again and she insisted it was just pharyngeal swelling from the stomach tubing - and when I called for a second opinion from another practice the following day when I was absolutely shocked by the deterioration and depression in my mare, I had the excellent luck to get Dr Thomas Kock, visiting from Denmark-as-in-the-country-in-Europe, who came out, assessed my mare, said no way was that blockage cleared and put her right within 20 minutes (on a Sunday and at a quarter of the bill that the botched-procedure vet sent us and insisted we pay in full) - and then we had to treat her for aspiration pneumonia, thanks to the delay and the horse's age. She was sick for weeks, all unnecessarily. 👺 Sadly Dr Kock returned to Europe, in part because he was appalled by the lack of professionalism in equine circles around here (colleagues such as I'm describing, stud farm managers trying to tell him how to do his job even though they actually had no clue, etc).

And because I don't want to finish on this note: A good friend of mine had a wonderful dog who developed an osteosarcoma. They were able to reduce his pain and extend his life for eight months (metastases got him in the end) by spending $1,000 to have his leg amputated. Even in retrospect without the hope of a longer time with him, she still felt the quality of life for the dog over the eight months following surgery was good enough to warrant it - especially as he was in terrible pain before the amputation and recovered quickly after, adapting very well to three-leggedness and getting back to play and regular outdoor adventures.

This was Ratchet after surgery.

To see lovely photos of the dog enjoying his second lease of life the surgery bought him, and to read the reflections my friend wrote after his death, see: Love Lessons

While death is normal and expected, it's also inevitably linked to grief in those who go on without that individual. A few months after we lost Sunsmart's mother, I had a walk around our nature reserve to plant native everlasting seeds on her grave site. That walk and the things it got me to reflect on resulted in a piece of writing I shared at the time. A loss is always sad, but it's also good to see the greater scheme of things: What you had, that it was real, that it was good, and that life has a way of renewing itself on this planet. Here's the link:

Flower Memorials
 

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I agree about the ridiculous prices from vets. I've had times where I definitely felt scammed. Once we paid to have a special horse dentist come to the barn, and he tried to have us let his wife do the filing. Someone who did not go to vet school!! He also charged more than I'd ever paid before.

I'm glad you have found a more reasonable vet to work with you. It's not being "cheap," either, assessing whether procedures and things are necessary for the animals. Such as trailering a horse into a vet clinic, expensive but also stressful for a horse. As you say, castration and so many other surgeries have been done in the field for a long time. It's not necessary to bring a horse somewhere away from home unless it requires special equipment to do the surgery.

My last vet was very practical. She knew I was willing to pay for anything that was necessary, but she always told me ways to save money. If she didn't think a test would help us, she wouldn't do it. She actually never tested Amore's ACTH for Cushing's, because she had so many obvious signs and it was gradually getting worse each year. We dosed her medication by starting with a half pill, and when that didn't seem to work anymore we went to one pill.

She told me that horses often responded very differently to the pill, so in some cases it was better to go by symptom relief than by the numbers. For example, she said a horse might have a very high ACTH, but have the numbers go down to normal and complete relief of symptoms with a half pill. Other horses might have lower levels but need more pills to bring them down. She also felt that for a horse without laminitis, the other symptoms were a good indication of whether the treatment was working. This was based on her experience doing the tests and seeing how those correlated. With Halla, we tested her twice, right away with the laminitis. In that case, she said the test was necessary because we didn't know what was going on and her symptoms were severe..

The vet would also give me compounded omeprazole for ulcers. She felt that many people would not treat ulcers because of the cost, and that the compounded omeprazole worked for most cases. She said we could always bring out the big guns if it didn't work, and it always worked for the horses at our barn. So I thought she was great.

I'm always nervous when getting a new vet, and I'm going to be watching closely when my horses are seen later this month. I've heard so many horror stories about dentals. I couldn't believe someone's vet was filing the incisors down. I've never seen that once in my 20 years of watching dentals. I do understand why a vet would want to do a power float, after talking to my last vet about it quite a bit. She was telling me how attempting to do a good job on the five or six horses she might do some days would require a level of fitness she could not keep up. It can take a bit of strength to push and pull a file, similar to being a farrier. That doesn't mean every vet will be skilled and careful enough to use a power tool on a horse's mouth. I've been reading online reviews about my new vet facility, which are very good, otherwise I would not let them near my horses.

I view it as similar to dentists or surgeons. There is a lot that can go wrong so you have to be very careful to get a skilled person working with power tools around delicate teeth and bones. I've known bad surgeons to crack bones in surgery. Many of the unhealthiest people go to doctors too often and take every treatment recommended. People do this with animals too. We have to realize that if we tell a doctor or a vet about a problem, they will try to give us something to make us feel better, like it is being addressed. They almost never say everything is fine and do nothing. People are unsatisfied if they do. But as my one friend used to say about some of the doctors we worked with, "Someone had to graduate at the bottom of the class." Which means some of the doctors and vets out there will be at the lowest level they could be and still pass. Buyer beware.

So unnecessary treatments are a huge problem, and they do cause harm. My belief is that people should avoid medications if at all possible. That way by the time you are old, you will be on two or three pills instead of a dozen, which we see frequently in older people. All of those medications have adverse effects, and in the long run might be worse than what you are taking them for. Same with horses. It's definitely a risk vs benefit proposition. But the healthiest people I see are those who have only used doctors the way many of us use vets. They go if there is a problem they can't fix by researching and trying home treatments first. I know you believe food and exercise are medicine, and for horses that is also true.
 

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I think practicality is a dying thing. I don’t know why either, maybe it relates to the over mandated nature of our government, or the lack of applied learning. People are quick to focus on numbers and studies and completely dismiss the overall picture of something, like @gottatrot’s example of the Cushing meds.

I have a dislike of many in the medical fields. Vets and doctors can carry a tendency to believe they are so much smarter than anyone else is capable of being, and so they are dismissive and arrogant. I know that’s not true of everyone though! I’ve met vets I’ve loved, and one of my greatest friends right now is a doctor. She is actually brilliant, but oddly lacks the arrogance of those I’ve seen less able than her in her field. She carries with her an old timey attitude, and is about the actual fixing of problems.

On Gotta’s next point: I have an autoimmune disease, as most of you know. I was so sick at one time I was sure I was going to die. I was going to this doctor for test after test and medication after medication. Some of them didn’t even make any sense, and I couldn’t at all figure out where his mind was going with his many diagnoses. He was very book learned and stuck to the rules, and my mind was fried by all of it.

One day I decided I’d had enough. I wanted to try the celiac diet in the case that was the problem, but I figured I would stick to it anyways for pretenses (I really wanted to stop going to doctors), and stop all of the medicines. Now, I don’t have celiac disease, but the dramatic change in my diet did push my autoimmune disease into remission. Now, whenever I am getting sick I do something like that, and I exercise consistently, and I feel really good. I am the picture of good health! Lol

I did so much better when I decided to treat myself in the same manner I would a horse. Diet and exercise.
 

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@SueC, I’m asking some of my former teacher friends to recommend an international English tutoring company as the one I had in mind requires you to be US-based.

I have also enjoyed the discussion on approaches to vet and medical care. I try to be a minimalist in both human and animal scenarios. I’ve definitely had vets that lay on a thick guilt trip for not “trying everything,” but happily right now I think we have good people who know modern tech and treatment options but don’t go overboard. I am definitely on board with quality over quantity for aging pets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,056 ·
SUNSHINE AND SEASHORE

I'm super happy that we got a lovely day of sun and seaside walking to start off the weekend, in the middle of what is turning into a long, bleak winter. It was like an unexpected bubble of golden light and happiness in a sea of grey.

Here on Western Australia's South Coast, we've had three years of drought (only 50-60% of normal annual rainfall) followed by one of the wettest winters on record - our region has literally been drowning for the last two months and large areas are affected by flooding, waterlogging, soil erosion, structural and landscape damage. There's been a severe weather warning with sheep hypothermia alert at least once a week - normally we would get that once or twice a month in winter - and we've been regularly lashed with gale-force winds, sleet, and never-ending downpours. We live on a smallholding and I've been walking everywhere in gumboots for weeks. It was wet last weekend and it's forecast to be wet again later this weekend and for most of next week. Just what we need - more rain when the whole place is like a giant bog.

We made a pact that if we got a bright sunny day on one of our days off, we'd go somewhere we'd never been and make a day out of it, and that's exactly what happened. Having walked the Bibbulmun track from Albany to Denmark in day-walk sections several times over now, we bought track maps for Denmark to Walpole and north to Pemberton and the inland Karri forests, so we can systematically walk another 150km or so of the famous track in sections over the next couple of years. We got a good start to this fitness and sanity project by doing a 25km walk from Parry Beach to Boat Harbour and back in May - I posted some photos of the spectacular, pristine coastal scenery in this thread at the time.

West of Boat Harbour is a little settlement called Peaceful Bay which we'd never been to before, and that's despite of the fact I've lived and walked on the South Coast for decades. It's simply such a vast place that you can keep yourself busy just climbing every Stirlings and Porongurups peak every year and doing the dozens of short and day walks in the Albany-Denmark region over again. But the Bibbulmun track has got to be the best way to see the coastline from Albany to Walpole, properly, on foot and totally immersed.

We'd warmed up for this big day out by doing a 10km hilly section locally on the Bibbulmun east of Bornholm on Thursday afternoon, and the hike we planned around Peaceful Bay was to go west around the seashore for about 7km and then shortcut back to the village via a 4WD track - about the same distance.

Fabulous outing. We started on the town swimming beach:

The end of that beach was a rocky cove:

From there on, we walked through a succession of beaches separated by dunes and rocky points. So this is the second beach, and you can see the next "up-and-over" at the end of it already:

Our dog loves to chase waves; here's a nice photo of that:

The geology of the Peaceful Bay area is mixed and diverse: Ancient granite, more recent intrusions of basalt etc, quartz veins, limestone, all creating a diverse and spectacular seascape:



The South Coast has a lot of very white, fine-grained icing-sugar sugar beaches from sand made of granite. On this walk, we also found cream-coloured beaches because of underlying limestone geology and the erosion of that. This particular little beach had much of its sand made of broken-down seashells:

We kept on following the shoreline, walking beaches and track...


The coastline in the distance behind Brett has the huge sand dunes behind Quarram Beach (we've not been there yet) to the left, and then the 12.5km Boat Harbour to Parry Beach stretch we did that return walk on in May, to the right of the photo.



 

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Discussion Starter · #3,057 ·
From here, the climbs became more serious as we got into more elevated coastline:



Look closely at the next photo - there's two kangaroos in it. They were less than 10m from the track and quite unconcerned with us as long as we kept walking!

The track got increasingly elevated, and there were quite a few sculptural-looking rocks around.

This is the coastline west towards Rame Head and Conspicuous Cliff.

Quick snack stop - one thing I do quite religiously from two hours into a walk, to keep energy levels up...

More rock pools, and crabs!


A rounded-rocks shoreline:

Imagine where this log came from, and how much power the sea has to toss it up on the shore like this:

This was entering a zone called The Gap:

There was a beach in this cove, at the end of which we sat down to eat and drink, before taking the 4WD track from there to shortcut back to Peaceful Bay village.

By this time my feet were feeling the walk, and Brett produced a pair of headphones from his backpack and invited me to listen to the music on his iPod, which I'd carried to take photos. I don't normally do this, but I tell you what, a cover of "Blue Monday" by an outfit by the name of Orgy sure woke me up, and we made the 2.something km back in no time, despite the deep sand...

Peaceful Bay reminds me of a cross between Tasmania's Dootown and the South Coast's Windy Harbour - little informal villages of holiday houses, not built to suburban specifications - with a quirky feel to them.


Really good day out - and looking forward to more hitherto unexplored tracks, hopefully within the next fortnight. :)

To see all the photos and do a sort of "vicarious tour" just click on any of them to go to the Flickr photostream.

...and I will get around to responding to people's posts properly soon. I scrambled to do the washing this morning before the arrival of the next front. This is now coming in half an hour and I need to get the horses rugged and the mostly dry washing in...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,058 ·
TOTAL BOG

Riding is just impossible at the moment as ludicrous amounts of rain continue to fall on our saturated landscape. I slosh around in gum boots trying to feed animals. Parts of the pasture that have never waterlogged before, the hilly bits, are squelching as you walk over them and there are puddles on all the flat bits. Traffic areas and gateways are turning into mud bogs. Horses are frequently in rugs 3-6 days without a break. The crossover at the road was near flooding again last night. The forecast is rain rain rain and it looks like things won't get anywhere near normal until maybe September.

Have a look at the clip in this link to see how Perth looked yesterday - and up there isn't nearly as wet as down here: Perth streets resemble rivers as WA braces for strongest cold front of the season on Monday

On our days off we go hiking in relative rain breaks, out to the coastal trails which aren't boggy. Yesterday we walked from Muttonbird Road to the Grasmere wind farm and back in water-resistant thermal pants and light waterproof breathable jackets - our current hiking uniform. I've never done this section with Brett before and the last time I walked it was in 2007 or thereabouts with the Year 9 outdoor camp kids. That was in summer weather; yesterday we had rain squalls and even sleet, and the odd burst of sun, but it was so good to be out and moving we walked 3 hours and covered over 15km. The dog had been mostly on the sofa for two days and was ecstatic to be out. I will post photos when we get around to it.

I picked up the Pergolide the day I ran out and was disappointed that it was a small packet, at $4 a tablet, which is even more expensive than the $3.10 a tablet I was paying at the other practice. I can't get hold of the vet and the receptionist is still rude and apparently a bit short of grey matter as well. I'd like a script to buy my own online because there I can get in for around $2 a tablet.

General question to all of you with Cushings horses: How shaggy do your horses still get while treated? On 1.5 tablets Sunsmart still looked like a shagpile last spring so I am a bit leery about my current advice to reduce him to 1 tablet. I've done that for nearly two weeks now and while he looks OK and is cheerful and energetic as always, what if the reduced dose will precipitate another crisis like two summers ago when half a tablet was suddenly no longer enough? It took months for him to get better then and he looked absolutely shocking - lost weight, no interest in life, walked around like a frail old man, got tongue ulcers and sore gums and infections - I don't want him to go through all that again...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3,059 ·
STORMY WALKING

The amount of rain we are getting is ridiculous - five fronts in one week, three of them associated with severe weather warnings. Well dammit, we'd had enough of being indoors and yesterday started the weekend by going out out to walk 15km (Muttonbird to Grasmere Wind Farm End return) as one of those fronts was approaching.

It felt so good to stretch our legs we walked merrily for three hours, through bursts of sun alternating with downpours and even sleet. What never stopped was the wind, which turned the 11 degree Celsius maximum into near-freezing due to wind chill. They don't call'em the Roaring Forties for nothing...

The secret was to walk fast, and I'd had coffee, which tends to hypercharge me.

This is a sort of natural Stonehenge...there's a few of them around the coast:

Views west to Grasmere and Albany Wind Farm...

A burst of sun... (...and spot the dog, who was ecstatic after mostly being on the sofa for two days...)

The heathland is starting to flower:

This is a Holly-Leaf Banksia:

Grasmere / Albany Wind Farm:

Happy dog, who can't understand why we're not always driving somewhere to go for a walk and then coming home to eat and collapse on the sofa (her favourite type of day):

Between coffee before walking, thermal mountain pants, a rainproof breathable jacket and walking fast all the way, I wasn't too hot or cold:

Turning around on reaching the first Grasmere turbine, to return home:

Pretty spectacular cliffs, and Torbay in the background:

On the way back, we side-tracked to a campsite to shelter from a burst of sleet.

Of course, when we got to the hut the sleet stopped. We decided to go again a couple of minutes later, and within a minute, sleet was coming down at about a 45 degree angle on gales. The storm clouds were pretty impressive:

As usual, to see the full set go to the Flickr page by clicking on any photo...
 

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Looks like some great hiking!!

Amore has been on 1 mg. Prascend for 5 years. She still gets a serious winter coat, but I don't mind that as long as she sheds it all the way out. Here's her winter coat.

But her summer coat is as sleek as anyone else's.


I read the book Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki. It was an interesting read, thanks for recommending it.
You can often get tones of eastern religion coming through with some ideas, including how things are fated to be. I like how the characters came to accept themselves and others, and the pain they'd been through.
 
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