Grass is greening and it's time to get Hannah outside. For Christmas we got her a little swing and when I was at Home Depot this year (the dreaded home "improvement" store) I got some rope on the sale rack. So now it's time to get the swing hung up. This requires some tree climbing - not my specialty - so my wife hopped up and swung the rope over the branch. I couldn't help but think about "The Giving Tree" as we hung the rope. We are starting to make the memories at this house that would make it difficult for me to leave. As a kid we left our memories behind every few years and so I am a bit more worried about it than maybe I should be. Of course, Hannah can't remember yet but we can remember the fun we're having with her. Betsy knows this place as her first real home and family. And this is rapidly rivaling the longest I have ever lived in one place. I realized how stable we are when a friend of ours visited from Belgium and it hit me it had been a year since we'd last seen her. So much time has passed so quickly. It's no wonder we are settling in here.
While we were hanging the swing, Hannah was bouncing up and down in her little walker. She is building up those leg muscles and got to try on a new set of shoes. She's still supposed to only wear shoes when she is outside because her feet need to be free to grow. She seems to love being outdoors. I'm not sure if its the grass and greenness, or the fresh air. The birds have been back for a while but the weather has kept them pretty quiet. Now that we are getting warm breaks, the birds are singing and Betsy has plenty to keep her attention. Once we got the swing hung, Hannah absolutely loved playing in it. She must feel like she is soaring for even the little bit of distance she travels. She giggles and smiles, and is generally awestruck about the whole thing. Mom and I really enjoyed pushing her back and forth. It's weird how relaxing it can be to push a kid, but her smile makes it all so calming.
I'm finally getting around to something I have been putting off for a long time at work - protozoal separation. A previous student named Sylvester did some good work in sorting out how to separate protozoa from the cow. We take rumen fluid and spin it down at low Gs in the centrifuge before putting the pellet in a bag. Then the bag is washed and the dirt and bacteria flows out. This leaves protozoa and they can be saved for whatever purpose the researcher desires. Unfortunately, this does not work for fermenter contents because the feed is digested to such small particles that they gum up in the same filter pore as the protozoa. Instead, another graduate student, Ye, worked out a way to deduce the protozoa by washing them in bags, then sonicating them and looking at the difference in nitrogen between the two steps. I need to test this and see how well it works, but the first step is to practice washing with the bags. It's harder than it looks, but resembles making tea in a sick way you hope you forget. Usually about 7-9 wash cycles will yield clean saline without any silt from the bag. To demo this, I thought I would line up the cylinders to you could see the color change.
This week was also the Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference, where I finally was able to return as a speaker. I've been there a few times in the past during the early years of undergraduate presenters, but this was my first time as a graduate student. Third place wasn't too bad, but I was disappointed by the reception of the judges towards my research concept. Not for lack of understanding, they were antagonistic towards my methane research and its relevance today. But I would argue that my research is central to anyone's desire to learn more about energy efficiency. Forgetting for a moment about methane production, we should instead just consider methane as a method of regenerating reducing equivalents. Regenerating reducing equivalents (NAD+) promotes increased acetate production, more energetically favorable for many microbes and a primary product from fiber digestion. It is the balance of volatile fatty acids that is most interesting about where my methane research can go. If methane mitigation strategies force NADH accumulation and shifts in VFA pathways, this can help explain some of the unpredictable outcomes during mitigation treatments, and the lack of gain when methane production is inhibited.
If nothing else, I just want people to realize that this is about more than methane production and hydrogen production. It is about reducing equivalents and pathway fluctuation.
|Hobnobbing with a celebrity cow.|