Monthly Archives: October 2011

  • September 11

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic
    On this day in 2011
    My dog brought me his rubber chicken
    Before I even got out of bed
    Because he knew I was sad.

    On this day in 2001, I packed for a flight to Washington, DC.
    My co-workers prepared to leave for the airport, when someone called us
    to the TV,
    showing a plane crashing into a skyscraper, unfurling clouds of dark gray smoke.
    Over and over, over and over and over we watched that plane strike the World Trade Center.
    We wondered, what in the world?
    Then another plane struck, and both towers went down in a monstrous cloud of dust.
    On it went.
    A plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, DC
    And we prayed for our co-worker who was already there. We prayed for everyone there.
    What on earth was going on?
    A plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.
    Later we learned of brave passengers, who heard over their cell phones of the attacks and said, “no more!” Saying goodbye to their loved ones, they faced the attackers and drove the plane into that field.
    Heroes they were.
    There would be no more flights that day.
    All were grounded.
    That night the skies were empty. My dogs and I walked under a clear, star-filled sky and wondered at the quiet, the emptiness.
    For surely many new souls had entered heaven that day.
    People from the planes
    People from the buildings
    People from the neighborhood
    People and dogs from the rescue crews
    Surely heaven was busy that night.
    And yet the sky was so quiet. And empty, except for the stars.
    New stars lit the night.
    Soon fighter jets circled overhead, even here in Minnesota.
    And though I had wondered at the peacefulness of the sky, following the violence of the day
    And realized, even then, I would never again see the sky this empty and the stars so wondrous.
    Once I knew they were ours, I was thankful for the fighter jets watching over. I was thankful to be an American.
    I was thankful for the rescue workers, dogs and people, who tirelessly searched in the face of such wreckage, such overwhelming sorrow
    Allowing the possibility of hope.
    I was thankful for each being who gave hope to another, through a courageous act, a hug, or just a simple word of kindness.
    For we all felt so fragile even as we were gathering our strength.
    I wondered how this tragedy could happen in our great country—or anywhere.
    How does hate go that far?
    I wondered at the depth of loss and destruction.
    I stood up for Marwane, a man at work. For although some hated him for his name and I had felt his disrespect for me as a woman
    I knew he was not a terrorist.
    I learned of children born on 9-11-01, of love that was born too, borne on the winds of destruction.
    I saw how tragedy brought out the best in people, how love brought us together and slowly built us up again, how love inspired us to help one another.
    And I tried to focus on love.
    I tried not to hate.
    Because hate killed all those people.
    Hate killed all those people, and some dogs who went to help.
    And somehow the hate has to end.
    Somehow the hate has to end.
    On this day in 2011, my dog brought me his rubber chicken before I even got out of bed, because he knew I was sad.
    Because I have not forgotten.
    So through my tears I played with my dog (not yet born in 2001) and his rubber chicken. Through my tears, I played with Bandit and that rubber chicken, and I smiled.
    My dog’s simple act of love and compassion showed me how to go forth. My dog showed me how to go forth with love, not hate.
    And I vowed to go forth with love.
    Through my tears, I vowed to go forth with love.

  • Ten Miles from Milk

    Written By Barbara O'Brien
    My sister writes a blog about our family’s history. It’s fun to read about where your people came from and see how far you can go back. A few recent posts have really hit home with me.


    In the spring of 1911, my great grandmother, Lena Hymers, a city girl through and through, left St. Paul, Minnesota and followed her husband, Frank, and his dreams to the vast, open and unsettled plains around Kincaid, Saskatchewan. They had a one-year-old daughter, Ethel. She was my grandmother. My grandmother wrote down these experiences in 1988 and my aunt gave copies of the reminiscences to my sister to share.
    We had names for the cows also. There was white-faced Daisy and black-faced Daisy, then Sutton who belonged to a farmer named Sutton who died and his widow gave us the cow when she left the farm. There was Bessie, Nancy, Patsy, and my cow's name was Bertha. I have my picture taken with it when it was a calf. It was our first calf and Grandpa said it was a girl so he would name it after his first daughter. (I wonder if my Aunt Bertha ever knew we had a cow named after her?)
    My grandmother and I were very close. She understood my love for animals and especially horses. I loved it when she would visit me at our farm. She was always happy to pet the horses and whisper sweetness into their ears. Throughout my life I always thought of her as an old woman, someone who volunteered with the Girl Scouts and the church, cooked the best waffles, and took good care of me and my siblings when my mother had to go to work part time.
    I never thought of her as a young girl, living the life of a pioneer on the Saskatchewan prairie while the daughters of great-grandmother’s old friends in St. Paul were going to city schools and living in houses with modern plumbing, electric lights and telephones.
    We had some pigs but we only named the mama pig. She was Sally and she had a lot of little pigs every year. Sally was very tame and if we was alone in the pen Papa would put me on her back and I'd hold onto her ears. She would give me a ride all around the pen. I used to scratch her behind the ears. She would come over to the fence and wait for me.We had some white turkeys. Turkeys are a very difficult type of fowl to raise. They keep close together in a flock and sometimes become attached to a leader gobbler, who might decide to leave the protection of the farmyard for a hollow in a field or a dry creek bed. This was dangerous to their safety. At night they would huddle together with no protection from the prowling wolves or coyotes. You can't drive turkeys - they just won't go where you want them to. Once Papa had to search them out and it was a good thing they were white because Mama, Papa and I sneaked up on them and caught them and put them in sacks. Some got away but we got the gobbler and the next morning the stragglers had come back home. Papa cut their wings so they couldn't fly away and we had to put up a fence to keep them home. Mama didn't raise many turkeys after that. We had ducks and geese but Mama didn't like them. They were such dirty fowl. They always tried to bathe in their drinking water. We couldn't waste so much water. Mama had to make a special drinking pan just for the ducks. They didn't wander away, they stayed in the farm yard. I didn't like the geese and the old gander always wanted to chase me and he'd scare me. Mama always canned chicken and turkey, but we sold the geese and ducks in town at Williams' Store. Sometimes Papa would shoot rabbits and Mama canned them too. We always had some kind of meat over the winter, later we even smoked meat when we butchered a pig.

    I had heard a few of the stories over the years, of course. I knew how sad she felt when her little colt got into the chicken feed, got the colic, and died. I knew she rode her horse, Prince, to school while keeping a watchful eye out for the coyotes who frequented the washes and gullies alongside the road.
    My horse's name was Prince. He had a white face and was a trained cow pony. Then we had Kit, a beautiful dapple grey and high-stepping Fly. Nugget was a bronco and if you weren't careful, would buck you off. We also had Maud, Jenny and Lady. Maud and Jenny we bred and let run with their colts. Lady was a pacer and Papa had bought her from a racing horse stable. Allen always rode her to school. She always wanted to race, and when I rode to school on my pony, Prince, we often raced the half mile to the crossroads on our way home from school.
    By reading the rest of her stories, I learn about what her early life on the prairie was like and how much work it was for her and her family. I have a ten-mile trip from my farm to the store to buy milk, but it only takes me a few minutes by car. Their trip by buckboard and team to town, also only ten miles away, could take half a day or more depending on the weather. 
    When I read my grandmother’s stories, I am struck by our common love and appreciation for the horses and the other animals in our lives. When I look out my window and see my horses, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, and geese I feel a strong connection to my grandmother and to the people who came before me. 
     When she writes of how the ducks and geese mess up their water pan I laugh because my ducks and geese do the same thing. And when she expresses her love for her horse, Prince, I think of my love for my horse, Finnian. This love of the land and animals ties us together through time and space. I know when I smile at the thought of my grandmother, she also is smiling on me and mine.

    —Quotations and photographs from the reminiscences of Ethel Hymers Glewwe, South St. Paul, Minnesota, 1985.


  • Equine Carbohydrate Disorders, Part 1: Definitions and Relationship to Equine Diseases

    Written By Dr. Kris Hiney
    Equine disorders related to carbohydrate consumption have received much attention by owners and researchers alike, as of late. This has resulted in almost a mistrust or fear of feeding horses carbohydrates.  But in reality, almost all of the horse’s calories come from carbohydrates – there is no way to avoid them in the horse’s diet. What one must do is understand all of the forms in which CHO (carbohydrates) are found, identify horses at risk for CHO disorders and select the appropriate feeds to keep them healthy.
    To begin, carbodydrates are simply molecules composed of carbon, hydrogen and water. Monosaccharides are single units of sugars which vary slightly in their structure.  Common monosccahrides in the horse’s diet consist of glucose, galactose, fructose, mannose, arbinose and xylose. While these monosaccharides are not normally found in their single form in plants, they are joined together to make  longer polysaccharides. However, monosaccharides are produced through  enzymatic digestion by the horse.  Disaccahrides, then, are just two sugar units linked together. Common disaccharides include lactose (found in mare’s milk and is formed by glucose and galactose linked together) and maltose (two glucose units linked together).
    Figure 1. Glucose and galactose. The two structures only differ by the location of the hydroxyl group on the left side of the structure.
    Oligosaccharides are longer chains of a variety of monosaccharides linked together, typically between three and ten sugar units.  The primary oligosaccharides in the horse's diet are stachyose, raffinose and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS).  FOS have received attention in animal nutrition as a way to supply pre-biotics to the animal. Pre-biotics are often oligosaccharides which are resistant to digestion in the foregut of the horse but are digested by bacteria in the hindgut. These supply a source of nutrition which supports the growth of beneficial bacteria and perhaps reduces the population of disease causing – or "pathogenic" – bacteria. In fact they are looked at as an alternative to feeding antibiotics in livestock. FOS are believed to alter the pH of the colon to a more favorable environment for the most productive bacteria. Mannose specific oligosaccharides are also thought to reduce the adherence of pathogenic bacteria to the epithelium of the gut wall. In yearling horses, feeding FOS reduced fecal pH and increased the production of volatile fatty acids from the hind gut. FOS supplementation also decreased the incidence of diarrhea when fed to foals. It has also been shown to have a protective effect on the development of foal diarrhea when fed to their dams. However, it is not known if that was an indirect effect passed through the milk, or if the foals simply ingested some of their dams' feed containing the supplement. While feeding oligosaccharides does not appear to have an immune boosting effect that has been suggested in other species, it does appear to have beneficial effects on gut health in the equine. Horses receiving FOS and challenged with a large barley meal had less lactobacilli in their colon compared to controls. Thus FOS may help prevent GI disturbances due to diet changes or CHO overload.
    Fructooligosaccharides also belong to the category of carbohydrates labeled as fructans.  Fructans are polysaccharides which have multiple fructose units. Inulin is also classified  as a  fructan. Many horse owners have heard of fructans as a risk factor for pasture associated laminitis. A sudden increase in fructans in the diet can alter the microbial population in the hindgut which may then subsequently lead to the development of laminitis. Fructan concentrations in grasses vary with both season and time of day.  Fructans and other starch concentrations are highest in the spring, lowest in the summer and intermediate in the fall. During the day, the process of photosynthesis results in the highest concentrations of fructans in the afternoon with sometimes half or less in the morning or evening hours.
    Other CHO include longer chains of sugar units and are known as polysaccharides. Most commonly we think of starches and fibers as the common polysaccharides in the equine diet. Starch occurs in either linear form known as amylose or branched form, amylopectin.  It is composed of only glucose linked by bonds that can be enzymatically digested by the horse. In contrast, cellulose is also a straight chain of glucose but is linked by a different type of bond , a beta bond, which must be broken by microbes. Fermentation of this fiber fraction results in formation of volatile fatty acids which are metabolized by the horse to produce energy. Pectin and hemicelluloses are also common polysaccharides found in the equine diet.
    Figure 2. Amylose is a chain of glucose units linked by alpha bond.
    Figure 3. Cellulose is a similar chain of glucose units, but linked by beta bonds instead, making it indigestible by mammals.
    Those CHO linked with alpha bonds can be digested in the foregut, allowing the monosaccharides to be absorbed intact. In contrast, cellulose, hemicelluloses, pectin, raffinose and stachyose, which contain beta bonds, will all need to undergo microbial fermentation to provide energy to the horse.   Hemicellulose, compared to cellulose, is a mixture of arabinose, xylose, glucose , mannose and galactose. Pectin is made up of beta linked galacturonic acid, arabinose and galactose. Pectin and hemi-cellolose are more rapidly fermented than cellulose and increase the digestibility of the feed if present in a greater proportion.
    Now that we know what different types of carbohydrates exist in the horse’s diet, let’s look more closely at some differences that occur in forages. Typically, forages should always make up the bulk of the horse’s diet. They are made up of structural CHO which make up the cell wall as well as some indigestible lignin.  The plant cell wall is made of cellulose, hemicelluloses and pectin. Forages also have non-structural CHO or NSC in the cell content, though certainly not as much as concentrates. The NSC is a mixture of monosaccharides (glucose, fructose, etc.) and disaccharides as well as starch and fructans.
    If we compare common forages, cool season grasses are made up of primarily cellulose, then hemi-celluose and the fairly small amounts of pectin. Cool season grasses include Kentucky Bluegrass, orchard grass, fescues and ryegrass.  Legumes, which are typically high in digestible energy are relatively higher in pectin. Legumes would include alfalfa, clover, lespedeza and peanuts. Warm season grasses grow and mature more rapidly and have much more cell wall/kg DM and thus much more fiber. Warm season grasses include Bermuda grass, switchgrasses, and bluestem. Therefore warm season grasses at a later stage of maturity may be ideal for horses with carbohydrate sensitivities. In general, there is a higher proportion of cell content in a younger, or more immature plant. This makes grasses or hays harvested at an earlier stage more digestible.
    Interestingly, the storage form of CHO in legumes and warm season grasses is primarily starch, while cool season grasses prefer to store energy in the form of fructans with much less starch. There is also a limit to how much starch the chloroplasts of warm season grasses and legumes can contain, yet there is no limit to fructan accumulation. Fructan also accumulates more to the base of the plant and more so in the stem than in the leaf. Cool temperatures and droughts (which typically don’t go together) may also increase the fructan production by the plant. Anything that promotes photosynthesis but retards growth ends up increasing NSC (lots of light with cool temperatures).   Therefore, be especially careful to observe growing conditions, especially if the horses are consuming cool season grasses and have carbohydrate sensitivities.

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