Thursday, May 18, 2017

Falling down and other fun activities

The other day my brother and I were working on a fencing job.

As I've hinted at before, it's a bit tricky. A working with family thing. I'll not go into details.

Anyway, I was working away, trying to untangle and stretch some wire. I tripped and fell down, which is anything but unusual. Prairie ground is uneven and bunch grasses make it even more uneven. If you're going to work in that environment and actually accomplish anything you're going to trip and fall.

So as I went down I shifted to PLF mode and accepted the landing.

Wait..., What?

PLF stands for Parachute Landing Fall. Back in my navy days I had to learn how to execute the PLF as part of my aviation physiology/survival training. Furthermore, I had to learn how to teach the PLF and various other survival skills in my role as an aviation physiology technician (a skill/designator I earned but for which I never filled a formal billet).

Accept the landing is a good philosophy for those who (might) descend to the ground via parachute. Once you're under the canopy there's nothing you can do to avoid coming to earth, so you might as well get in proper position and do the best you can to avoid injury.

Avoiding injury is where the PLF comes in. It's simply a pre-programmed fall and a way of dissipating kinetic energy as you hit the ground. You land on the balls of your feet, then fall in a controlled tumble which distributes the impact to calf, thigh, hip, back, and often, shoulder.

If you PLF enough in training it becomes second nature anytime you fall.

So the other day I tripped and fell, PLF'd, and popped back up and back to work.

Now my brother acted very concerned, as if he couldn't quite believe that I'd survived and that I might not need emergency surgery and hospitalization. It's hard for me to understand the concern he showed. It was a trip and a fall. The ground was right there. A non-event. Just doesn't add up for me.

But I digress.


So anyway, I'm spending a bit more time today crunching away at possibilities for my new vacation home tourism project. I've had some very nice input and encouragement from several of you fine readers. Thanks!

I've also started getting a handle on costs and they're not looking as frightening as I feared. It begins to look like a new construction steel house will come in at about half the cost of a modular and a third or less the cost of a traditional framed house. If that turns out to be the case I'll be able to plow some saved expense into durable, quality interior appointments and landscaping. Anyway, the planning is progressing.


It was beautiful here yesterday.

Today, however, it's cold and raining. The temperature is 40 degrees and we've had an inch-and-a-half since last evening, so everything is dripping wet. The temperature is expected to fall to 35 overnight and the rain to continue and possibly morph into snow. Tomorrow is expected to be more of the same, and tomorrow night the mercury is forecast to hit 32. The weather front should pass on Saturday and we should see a return to sunny and warm by Sunday.

This is all well and good and typical for springtime in this part of the country. The moisture is fantastic and will ensure plenty of grass growth for at least a couple of months.

There's a bit of a downside today, though. I have another sick calf.

This little heifer and her mom were off by themselves this morning. She was born a week ago and has been doing fine. This morning she was pretty droopy and in combination with being away from the rest of the herd it seemed a not-so-good-thing. She was alert but seemed pretty weak. Her mouth was ice cold, so she was at least a bit hypothermic.

I've written about hypothermia before. If a calf isn't making enough body heat to keep itself warm, it needs an input of food energy and external energy in the form of convective heat. So I put a half-gallon of warm milk replacer in her belly and stuffed her in the cab of my pickup with the heater turned all the way up. She perked up quite well and I put her back with her mom.

An hour later though she was still too weak to get up, and even worse, seemed to have little strength or coordination in her back legs. I decided to call the vet. In the mean time I'd put the calf and her mom in the barn, out of the wind and wet and easily available for examination and treatment.

I picked the calf up (she's gained about 50 pounds since birth) and began to carry her to the pickup. My thought was to put her in the bed with the tail gate open and drive slowly to the barn. The cow would follow right along if all went the way I expected it to. And in fact it did.

However, whilst carrying her to the pickup I tripped and -- you guessed it -- fell down.

I accepted the landing and PLF'd to the best of my ability. I ended up on my back in a mud puddle, but the calf was on top and didn't get hurt. Nor did I get hurt. Cold, wet and muddy isn't hurt!

Now I'm waiting for the vet to arrive. I'm wondering if the calf doesn't have a selenium deficiency, which can cause that back end weakness. I'm also wondering if the little calf who couldn't get up might not have had the same thing. Hope I have some answers soon.


  1. PLF is a valuable skill. Saved me from several serious injuries over the years.

    1. It's an important life skill. And makes falling much less traumatic.

  2. About PLFs, as a USAF survival instructor, I must have done several hundred before I went to jump school. Do you think I did a proper PLF in my five school jumps? Of course not; never was seriously injured, but landed every way but the proper way. Oh well.
    Sorry to read that you are dealing with another ailing calf. One of the downsides of your life. I am awaiting hearing the outcome of this and sending good thoughts your way in hopes that the outcome is good.
    Thanks for the post.

    Paul L. Quandt

    1. Thanks Paul. The intersection of theory and reality is always interesting and full of surprises.

  3. Currahee! Hi yo Silver!

    Or words to that effect.

    1. I think Jumpin' Jim Gavin is now shaking his head. Tonto, on the other hand, is saying, "Yeah, that's about right."