Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring activities

Lot happening lately.  I was contacted by a friend through Google chat and that lead to the both of us using Google Hangout to see and hear each other on the video arrangement that Hangout enables.  It may be possible to use Firefox browser to do a Hangout but I could only make it work on Google's browser, Chrome.  

Spring has hit here with temperatures in the 70's.  So, naturally, it is time for some lawn work.  One of the first lawn actions here is moving the stalks from last year in our prairie.  But the tractor's battery is dead.  Another activity is bike riding and that means re-inflating four soft bike tires.  We rode for about half an hour with a strong wind from the south.  Nice when heading north, less so, into the wind.

I usually do my housework on Sunday morning while Lynn is at her Quaker meeting.  We have two vacuums, a light one downstairs and a more complicated one upstairs.  The upstairs one is actually more efficient but it wouldn't start this morning.  

My Civic is 10 years old but has only about 75,000 miles on it.  However, it has developed a disconcerting sound, which is a weak sway bar or something like that.  So, the mower, the vacuum and the car.  Three strikes!

But we pig farmers and sex scientists don't care about that stuff.  Reading Mary Roach's "Bonk" about scientific research on sexual intercourse, I read:

the job of a production pig is to produce more pigs, as many pigs as is pigly possible. The sows of Øeslevgaard shuttle back and forth between the "service" (insemination) barn and the open-floored nursing and weaning barns, where they sprawl flank-to-flank, a mounded porcine land mass. Anne Marie and I are standing around in the insemination barn. Here the sows are briefly confined in narrow pens separated by metal railings. It's like living inside a shopping cart. They seem to be in good spirits nonetheless. This may have to do with boar No. 433, a brown and white Duroc with testicles as big as a punching bag. Thomas has hold of No. 433' s tail, steering him from behind into a large enclosure that flanks the pens of the twenty sows in heat. No. 443 is a "teaser boar." His presence in the barn primes the sows for what's to come. It is not a quiet presence. The grunts of a sexually aroused boar are a soundtrack from a horror film: the deep, guttural, satanic noises of human speech slowed way down on tape. When I replayed my cassette, weeks later, I tried speeding it up to see if it would sound like speech. Perhaps I would decipher the secret language of pigs. It just sounded like someone retching. The boar moves along the row of sow snouts protruding through the bars, rubbing each one with his own. "This is what he does," yells Anne Marie over the grunting and the banging of metal grates. "He slobbers on them." Boar saliva has a pheromone— a chemical that primes a sow in heat for mating.

Roach, Mary (2009-04-06). Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex (pp. 89-90). Norton. Kindle Edition.

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