Su Ba

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since Apr 18, 2013
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Retired from veterinary medicine. My second career is creating a homestead, aiming to be self reliant.
Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Recent posts by Su Ba

Here in Hawaii, plants act much differently than on most of the mainland. Things that are annuals for most gardeners can often last over a year, or even multiple years in Hawaii. I’m located near South Point of Big Island, so I’m in the tropics.

Parsley….can last years
Peppers….can last years if disease doesn’t get them
Tomatoes….often last for over a year
Pole beans….often get 3-5 flushes of beans
Lima beans….at least 2 flushes of beans. Might go longer but the plants get straggly so I pull them out
Kale….keeps going. I cut them down when the stem gets more than 5 foot tall
Collards….I’ve had plants going on 3 years old before I got tired of them
Chard…I’ve had plants 3 years old before I pulled them in order to recondition the soil
Basil and oregano last years when pruned regularly
Mizuna and arugula can last a full year before bolting if kept watered, fertilized, and harvested
Asian greens…..many can last 6 months to a year if leaves are harvested weekly
Eggplant….I have 3 year olds plants right now that are still producing
Pumpkins and gourds will last a full year if planted in the late fall. My current pumpkin plants that I seeded in October are producing their third flush of fruits right now. The plants are still thriving.
Sweet potatoes….they don’t die back here if they are tended and pruned.
Sherri, I didn’t keep a journal specifically about this topic, but I did post a blog covering our move to our present location, the creating of our new life. The blog covers numerous years. I stopped the blog with the covid crisis due to lack of time. Instead, I used my time to help my community during these difficult tunes, leaving no extra time for blogging at my day’s end.

You can check out my blog at I hope to get back to blogging there again in a few months. It will quite good reading to relate what has happened over the past 2 years.
6 days ago
Going on a journey like this can be a real eye opener. It surely was for us. It took us several years of learning about producing food, about setting up a local trading network, about gathering and hunting, about changing our ideas and our eating habits. I now know that I can produce 100% of our food of we had to, while still having a varied and interesting diet. Knowing this has changed our lives, has given us confidence in this shaky economy.  

I no longer adhere to the idea, but it surely is nice to know that we could do it. We produce most of our own food, but now deeply appreciate our weekly restaurant meals, our non-local fruits, our special treats, the spices that I cannot produce myself.

Best of luck on your journey! You will have many challenges, and like it was for us, I hope you enjoy coming up with solutions.
1 week ago
#1- Veterinary medicine makes my heart sing. I could do it for 200 years and never tire of it. I’m now retired from vet med, but I haven’t left it behind. I volunteer at our local spay/neuter clinics.

#2- Growing food is almost as good as vet med. it’s my main passion now. I love growing all sorts of food and donate most of it to my community food project. I’ve partnered with our local non-profit group where we grow food, selling what we need to cover our material costs, and give the rest to create free meals.  

Having passions like this makes life satisfying even when it’s difficult at times.
1 week ago
Growing in a tropical region, many greens that are seasonal in colder zones are perennial here, or else last for a few years before giving up if they are not thought of as perennials.

Looking about my own farm I see….malabar spinach, okinawan spinach, cholesterol spinach, sweet potato, chaya, kale, collard, some varieties of bok choy and other Asian greens, chard, New Zealand spinach, pipinola (chayote).
2 weeks ago
I’m growing daikons at my new farm project where there is hard pan 6" down. The daikon roots are not growing into the hard pan at all. Instead, the roots turn 90 degrees, ending up with "L" shaped daikon roots. They look funny as all heck. Since identifying the location of the hard pan, I have manually busted it up. The radish roots surely couldn’t handle the job for me.

The next crop of daikon grew just fine. Some of the roots grew up above the soil level while others did not. I’m not sure what the difference was. But either way, I harvested a good crop. I do harvest when the roots are only about 8 to 10 inches long because that’s the preferred size around here. People like the younger roots.
4 weeks ago
Andrew, I’m sorry you had to go through that with your dog. I’m sure it was emotionally painful for you and surely painful for him.

I have been in veterinary medicine at one level or another since I was 15 years older. I’ve seen all sorts of medical problems occurring in both neutered and not neutered pets. Today it is fashionable to blame it upon early neutering. Back in the days when pet’s we’re not neutered, we first blamed the problems on poor bloodlines. Later it was fashionable to blame them on the pet’s diet. Then lifestyle issues became the target of blame. I have confidence in stating that we simply do not know the definitive answers yet.

3 months ago
There is a lot of controversy, a lot of differing opinions as to when and if to neuter a dog. Just as we are seeing in this discussion, it happens among veterinarians too. I have been attending veterinary conferences with participants from around the world, and learned that regional opinions vary greatly. Much of the opinions are based upon personal beliefs and incomplete or skewed scientific data. Knowledge on the subject changes significantly over the years, so that what I was taught decades ago is totally out of line with general opinion of the day. And new data is coming in every year, much of which is still to be tested, observed, and learned from. ……… not all that different than the permaculture journey of today.

Certain facts are truisms. Spaying a bitch before her first heat cycle totally eliminates breast cancer. When I first got into veterinary medicine, breast cancer was common enough. Among USA suburban pet households where spaying one’s dog early is common, breast cancer is seldom seen, I am told. Here in Hawaii where owners do not spay their females early, it is no surprise the find breast cancer in a bitch being brought in for spaying.

Non-spayed females are subject to infected uteruses, termed pyometra. It’s a life threatening condition that often requires emergency surgery. Yes there is medical treatment, which is not pleasant for the dog. And it does not necessarily cure the condition. Emergency surgery is expensive for the owner and trying for the veterinary staff. Owners are often angry with the veterinarian when an emergency spay is done, I suppose transferring their personal guilt to the veterinarian. This condition is totally avoidable, although an owner doesn’t want to hear that. At Hawaii spay clinics, it is no surprise to find early pyometra in some bitches being spayed.

Enlarged prostates in older non-neutered males is common, resulting in discomfort, difficulty urinating properly, interfering with bowel movements and normal walking stride. Owners do not notice the pet’s discomfort until the condition is well advanced. It is avoidable with neutering. Other common conditions I see often in my locale among non-neutered males is perianal cancer and hernia. Again, avoidable conditions.

Personally I see very little downside to neutering a dog. I see considerable benefits…. many. Can growth plates be affected? Yes, but what I have seen via continuing education at the vet conferences, we are talking about minuscule measurable differences. I see the lecturer enlarging an X-ray considerably in order to measure a minuscule suspected difference. Does such a small difference, if real, affect the dog itself?  I’m not sure because I’ve seen the identical sort of problems in other dogs that are not neutered. For example…….anti-neuter vets claim that early spaying causes urinary incontinence in bitches. But the numbers they cite are not really different from what I saw 50 years ago, when bitches were not usually spayed (during the time that these vocal vets weren’t  even born yet). I suspect that the incidence of urinary incontinence is about the same then as it is now.

So is there a definitive answer about early versus late neutering, or neutering at all? No. It’s a judgement call. Veterinarians still actively debate the subject among themselves. Much of the articles on the internet are skewed. It’s not possible for most pet owners to make a knowledgeable decision on their own. Trace, much of the information in the article you cite is debated among the professionals. So perhaps it comes down to gut feeling and looking at the overall results of early neutering that has been conducted over the past few decades. Far more dogs have been early neutered than late neutered. Is the early neutered group really having more problems than the late or non-neutered group? ….. Or are people selectively picking out cases to support their argument? I suspect the latter might often be the case.

The bottom line for me…… I am pro-neuter for many reasons. I will neuter are early as I feel I safely can. That often means 7-8 weeks of age in some pups. Commonly we see pups at the clinics coming in at 10-12 weeks of age. We consider that age to be ideal in that it is often the safest age for anesthesia, requires far less time and trauma for the pet, and the pup recovers very quickly with a extremely low rate of post surgical complications. Last year alone I assisted with neutering far more animals than the usual veterinarian sees in 5 years….maybe more.  
3 months ago
Not to be overly obnoxious, but my standard answer to clients at our veterinary hospital was ….. neuter the  male and spay the female a month AGO.  Sorry, but I never understood why owners put off neutering their animals then paid me good money for a vet exam to “fix the problem” when their in-heat bitch made a mess around the house and the male got crabby, lifted his leg on things, scratched the doors, etc.

In my way of thinking, allowing your male dog to go through this frustration is like having hives all over your body and not being allowed to do thing to relieve the itching. The itching simply never stops for 24 hours a day. Maddening to say the least.

I commend you on your decision not to produce a litter of excess puppies. Retired from veterinary medicine, I now volunteer at local spay/neuter clinics. A cat clinic typically neuters 90-100 animals a day. A dog one, 40-50. It is frustrating to see the never ending flood of excess kittens and puppies being produced by non-neutered pets. No, it is not cute, educational, or whatever else to produce a litter without guaranteed homes lined up in advance. Try volunteering for a year at a spay clinic or in the kill room of your local shelter, then see what your opinion of random breeding will become.

Back to your dogs…….the first week or two your bitch is not normally receptive. Then her discharge changes a bit, along with her odor and signals to the male. This is when your male will become obsessed with breeding your female. After a few days, the desire will gradually diminish. I use to dispense chlorophyll tablets for the female  and sedatives for the male. These would only help….not cure the problem. I’d schedule neutering surgery. If the owners refused, we simply dropped them as a client. If we couldn’t educate the client as to humane treatment of their pets, we requested they use some other veterinary hospital. My staff would get frustrated with those kind of pet owners. Their job was stressful enough without having to deal with those sort of owners.
3 months ago