It didn't seem possible that COVID -19 could have so much impact on things. It was Friday March 13th and all of my students wondered if we would go back to school Monday as we weren't sure what was going to happen. That season of the year my classes are in the midst of many different projects as I believe in Hands-On learning versus virtual learning. College Biology students were on their fourth generation of cross breeding Coturnix quail to study genetics and inbreeding depression. They also have long-term projects going on either growth regulators or fertilizers using plants. We had just set up the next incubator to set eggs on Monday to do the chick embryo coloring project. They were all looking forward to their duck imprinting project in the month of April. Environmental Science was studying the effects of copper sulfate on ecosystems because many people are now using that to control algae in ponds. They also had projects going on studying competition between monocots and dicots to understand better how to sustainably manage lawns. Chemistry class was in the midst of understanding how indicators work and learning how to make proper dilutions and each group of two students had more than 20 test tubes of standards that they had ready to proceed. Advanced Chemistry was just beginning to start to test how bleach loses its concentration when it's left open for periods of time and learning how to finesse their techniques using burets. Earth Science was in the midst of a project showing how ocean plate boundaries effect mountain ranges on nearby coastal plates. I tell you all of that simply for the fact that suddenly from my teaching going from a teacher facilitated student driven classroom to a continuous tumultuous everything being online situation for the final 9 weeks. While I appreciate technology and the things that computers can do having to spend about 8 hours per day many cases 7 days a week keeping up with the quote on quote virtual learning drove me nuts. I no longer felt like I could tolerate sitting at a computer and doing any blogs or any computer work whatsoever. After I put in my time each day just keeping up with student work I was computer burnt out. Suddenly instead of the students doing all the work it was me creating things for them to do that then they had to send back in and even grading and evaluating material online is not the same. All of the big time professionals kept saying virtual learning is equivalent to in person learning. I mean virtual learning is okay but I kept thinking if you have a starving person showing them a video of someone eating their favorite meal that doesn't really fill that void in your gut. It shows you what it's like but it's not the same thing. After 36 years of teaching I found this last quarter my most frustrating in the entire career but spent the most time ever with what I considered the least results. That means that I never wanted to get on the computer to do any blogs or even answer emails. I appreciate all the information people sent in about what they want to learn and read about and eventually it will show up I'm just not exactly sure in what order and when. My fall teaching schedule will have some changes I also will pick up an additional class this fall in Anatomy and Physiology so with six different classes I will have even less time to do some of the things like blogs and updating the website like I normally would. I have been taking lots of pictures and as the nights get longer and the growing season ends I will have more inside time to enrich the website.
Poultry shipping was a challenge this season and many orders had to be reshipped from long delays in the shipping process. With less airplane flights there were less places for chicks to travel and it was rough. Yet another casualty of COVID-19. This could prove to be a real issue in the future as some weeks the delays were long and detrimental. We also determined that Express mail no longer seems to have any impact except for the real long distances so we will be discontinuing that was an option. In most cases priority mail got to the destination quicker than express mail.
I used the picture of peat moss to show yet another casualty of COVID-19. It became as scarce as toilet paper. In fact there isn’t any to be found in a 60 mile radius of my home. I had become quite fond of using it for bedding for young poultry and suddenly the supply dried up and and one could not order or locate any. I noticed the first time I was out and had to resort to using wood shavings the awful ammonia smell started less than week in the brooder house and that makes my eyes water and I feel congested when exposed to it. Peat moss stays dry and never is there an ammonia smell and the birds see to love the fresh peat moss to dust bathe in and coccidiosis is just about a thing of the past with the drier conditions. My one outbreak of coccidiosis this summer was during the time I was using wood shavings for bedding and it got damp in the pen area. I would most certainly now after 2 years of study firmly support that sphagnum peat moss is by far the best bedding material for small poultry. I would encourage all to give it a try and I think you will be amazed. A 2.2 cubic foot bag of compressed peat moss goes for around $10 here. A bag of wood shavings about $5.50. It takes me 2 bags of wood shavings to cover the same area one bag of compressed peat moss covers. This makes the cost $10 for peat moss and $11 for wood shavings for 1 building. The catch is I have to clean every week with wood shavings so it costs $11 per week. With peat moss in normal conditions I have to clean once every 3 weeks ( if I don’t spill water). This makes the cost actually $3.33 per week for peat moss as opposed to $11.00 for wood shavings. You have to clean more frequently with waterfowl but you do with both items so the difference is equal.
The return to weekly blogs will be slow and steady and will have a direct correlation to when harvest season winds down and it gets dark earlier in the evening.