Wednesday, June 21, 2017

and that's done (II)

Today was summer research setup day: my student and I did outdoor plantings of the different prairie species, half of the blocks as controls, half with cedar litter on top of them, to see if red cedar has an effect in field conditions (and with a thicker litter layer than what I could manage in lab). We have an area a short distance from the biology building we can use.

We planned to start at 7:15 and I said to myself, "We'll probably be done by 11."

That was a mistake.

For one thing: we didn't account for how heavily the grass would regrow on the prepared plots. She had mowed and tilled back in May, while I was gone, but everything came roaring back. So first we had to re-prepare the plots.

First up, mowing.

She had brought her little reel-type mower - like mine, but wimpier, and in worse need of sharpening. That didn't seem to work very well so she called over to the physical plant - she works there, so she has an "in" - and asked to borrow a gas mower. So while she went to get that, I fought with the mower and the manual "tiller" (a four-pronged tool you jab in the ground and turn to tear up the surface vegetation. I may have to get one for my own garden).

Then, she tilled while I mowed. And we realized: the manual tiller, while it works well for small spaces, makes a person very sore very fast to do a large area. (This is eight blocks, four meters by two meters).

So she arranged to borrow a generator - because she had brought her little electric tiller, but of course that space is nowhere near a plug. So while she was getting the generator, I ran home and got my big extension cord, because borrowing an extension cord would mind going to YET ANOTHER group on campus.

Then, I kept working the manual tiller (I don't like being idle) and she followed in my wake with the electric one.

Finally, we were able to plant....we divided off the area, I marked out the rows for the different species (taking care to sort-of randomize them so position on the block shouldn't be a confounding factor).

It was at least 11 by when we started this.

And it was HOT. I mean, it wasn't as hot as it's been, but the dewpoint was in the mid-60s and it was in the low 80s and sunny.

The "bright golden haze on the meadow" Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote about isn't nearly so wonderful when you're working out in it (that "haze" is water rising in to the atmosphere off of the ground).

I started to feel kind of crummy. I kept pushing because I just wanted to get done, but I can tell my heat tolerance is about gone. I'm not sure if that's "the change" or if it's taking a beta blocker or what, but I kept feeling like I was going to bonk out (it probably didn't help that all I had for breakfast was a bowl of oatmeal and a small glass of milk)

We did have to keep running up to the building for stuff - more water, to water the seeds in, more of the bagged-up cedar litter, etc. At least it gave me a chance to cool off a little.

I admit, the last 20 minutes or so was her laying out the rest of the litter and watering while I sat in the shade. I think part of it was I was bordering on something like either hypoglycemia* or perhaps hyponatremia (I avoid sodium in my diet but I was perspiring heavily and I know you lose salt in sweat)

(*My blood sugar readings have always been normal when medically tested, but I suspect having gone too long without eating and working hard out in the heat could have done something)

We did find out there's a tap we can use on a metal building (we have a couple of storage buildings - Butler buildings - that are used for various things; this one is mostly used for storing the small boats for the ichthyology classes and the like). And there are hoses. So for future watering we won't have to drag the big (3 gallon?) carboys back and forth from the building. (I can BARELY carry both of them full, and especially not on a hot humid day).

I'm glad it's done but I'm FRIED. I came home and showered and ate (a fatty salty fast-food sandwich and a shake, but I figured (a) I needed something quick and requiring minimal thought and (b) that is a bit higher in sodium just in case I had depleted my levels - I know someone on a diuretic who got hyponatremic and wound up in the hospital). I feel a bit better but I don't feel great - I do feel like I spent six hours working hard out in the sun. I do think I managed to avoid getting sunburned: I wore spf 55 and also had a big hat and a long-sleeved cotton shirt over my t-shirt (which may have contributed to my overheating, but probably in the long run avoiding sunburn was better)

I'm hoping I perk back up enough a bit later to try to do the manestyle on the new Pony (all the crocheting is done and she's assembled, but I think to get the Regency look, I will need to crochet a bunch of those "inchworm" curls (those of you who were girls in the 1970s might remember the inchworm bookmarks with these) for the tail, and also as sort of "sidelocks" to the manestyle. (I think the rest, I may just use long hair and tie it into a bun for her).

I've also decided I'm taking most of Friday off (I do have to go in and water the plants; the campus is closed Fridays so my student wouldn't have access to things) and going to Sherman for some shopping.

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