At the Circus


PETA/HSUS wants more than to remove the animals from the circus. They want to end all animal agriculture, including horses. They’re against keeping animals in captivity, much less killing them for food. Most of their funding goes to suing livestock producers. If they had their way, there would be no bacon and eggs on the table.

Peta lost its lawsuit claiming Barnum and Bailey mistreated its elephants because their primary witness was caught blatantly lying on the witness stand. Their attorneys knew it and had their licenses suspended.

Barnum an Bailey filed a countersuit for damages and obtained a judgement for twenty-five million dollars.

PETA and HSUS have interlocking directorships and they transferred most of PETA’s funds to HSUS. Barnum and Bailey hasn’t seen a dime.

And they’re still trying to take away our bacon and eggs.

copyright Robert C Hargreaves



The lotus seed shoots up in winter’s gloom

Blind faith believing in the summer’s bloom

Ah, glorious faith that aims for the unknown

Attains the sun, victorious flower full blown

What shameful mortals we who scarce can see

Beyond hard truth to be what we must be

Are terrified and leave our petals in the mud unborn

My Daughters Cars


They told me to cheer up, things could be worse. So I cheered up, and sure enough, things got worse.

My daughter Tina’s first attempt at driving lessons ended in disaster. The car involved belonged to her boyfriend’s mother. She then proceeded to wreck four more cars of her own in succession. She didn’t wreck the fifth one, it wrecked itself with repeated starter problems. I should just be glad I still have a daughter, but at the time the horse and buggy was starting to look like a good alternative.

It all started when Tina’s boyfriend, barely old enough for a driver’s license himself, took it upon himself to teach Tina to drive. She didn’t even have a learner’s permit. He didn’t take her to some vacant field where she couldn’t get into much trouble. No, he took her to ritzy Haggin Oaks. She missed the brake and hit the accelerator instead and rammed an olive tree in the front yard of a million dollar home. The owner wanted $1,000 to replace the tree. He explained it wasn’t just the tree. He needed a crane and crew to carefully remove the tree and replace it without disturbing the rest of the landscaping. He added that if he reported it, Tina couldn’t get a license before she was 18. If I had known what was to come that wouldn’t have sounded so bad, but I ponied up. No vacation that year.

When Tina got old enough she got her learner’s permit and license. She then got a job at Burger King and needed transportation. I bought her a $1500 used car, just basic transportation. She didn’t have the car a week when someone ran a red light while Tina was turning left. We were lucky there was a pedestrian witness to verify Tina’s version of events. The driver of the other car claimed that Tina was the one to run a red light. The car was totalled, but all Tina got was a one inch cut on her forehead from hitting the steering wheel. A plastic surgeon sewed it up and charged $1,000. He did a good job. When the bandages came off there was no sign of a scar. But $1,000? The insurance company settled for $10,000 plus medical expenses.

Tina had her next car three months when she threw a rod going over the grapevine. She wouldn’t tell me how fast she was going. Then she found a cute little Fiat convertible for only $2,000. I suspected there was something wrong with it to be so cheap, but it ran fine.

After she finished her first year at Bakersfield college she celebrated by taking her son Joey and a friend to the coast for a week. Their last day she missed a curve on Highway 1 known locally as Dead Man’s Curve and drove off a 180 foot cliff. The car bounced twice on the way down and landed upside down. No way anyone could have survived that trip, but the seat belts broke on the first bounce and all three were ejected. Joey broke his arm. Tina landed on her head and had a concussion. The other passenger wasn’t injured.

The first I knew of it was a phone call from the hospital in Lompoc saying Joey was being released and demanding someone come get him right away. I couldn’t go because of work. A friend went and got Joey and he stayed with my mother. Tina was in the hospital for another two weeks.

I got another phone call, this time from a towing company saying they had recovered the car and wanted $800. They offered to take the pink slip instead.

When I went to see Tina I didn’t even recognize her. She was black and blue from head to foot and the right side of her face was all swollen.

The car had been lowered to three feet and was undriveable. I gathered up what was left of Tina’s belongings and handed over the pink slip.

It took a year to finally get my insurance company to pay off the hospital. No explanation, I just kept getting the bill and calling the insurance company. They kept saying it was being processed.

We still had enough insurance money for one more car. Things settled down and almost got back to normal. Then one night Tina drove out to the family farm and swerved to miss a rabbit. The wheel caught on the edge of the pavement and the wheel was pulled off. She locked the car and walked the mile and a half to the farm. By the time the tow truck got there someone had smashed a window in the car and stolen everything in it.

We were out of insurance money, so my mother bought the next car. A month later the car wouldn’t start and the starter was replaced. A month later the car wouldn’t start again and the mechanic said it was again the starter. He said that sometimes new starters are defective. The third time we took it to a different mechanic who said the firewall was missing and burning up the starter. He said he fixed it. The fourth time my mother said, “Fix the blank thing and sell it!”

Then Tina got married and I stopped keeping track of here cars. She went through more cars in three years than I did in fifty. The good news is we all survived her teens and she made it to become a productive member of society.

copyright Robert C Hargreaves

A Day at the Office


Early Thursday, to avoid the crowds, I arrive at Western Stockman’s for another trace-back. A cow slaughtered at BPI had TB. The information from the slaughterhouse only named the sales-yard. Now I need to learn where the cow came from.

The brand inspectors are in their break room. Darn! Can’t get by without saying hello.

“Hey, Doc, what’s up?” Jerry calls out.

“The usual. Find any hot brands?” I respond.

“No, but we do have a dispute over an unbranded calf in Isabella. Could you take some blood samples for us?”

“Do you have the parents?”

“Just the mother. At least, he claims it’s the mother.”

“No bull?”

“No, it’s AI’d. That’s the only cow he has.”

“Well, that only gives you a 50-50 chance of establishing paternity. And someone will have to pay the $100 for the test.”

“Got it covered. When can you do it?”

“How about Tuesday? I’m going to Camp Owens then.”

“Too soon to contact them. How about a week from Tuesday?”

“OK, a week from Tuesday. Say, what do you know about Garcia? Someone reported three hundred cows died there, but he denies anything happened.”

“Yeah, he fed them raw onions and the onions killed them.”

“But why would he deny it?”

“You ask him too many questions, and you’ll get a pair of concrete boots.”

“Then I could really kick ass!”

“Not at the bottom of the river.”

“So why aren’t you doing something about it?”

“Like I said. That guy’s trouble. We don’t mess with him.”

“Well, I still have to see Yolanda. Take care.”

“See you.”

The office is empty. “Hello! Is anyone here?”

“Be out in a minute,” Yolanda calls from her inner office. Emerging, she says, “Dr. Hargreaves! What can I do for you?”

“I have a suspect from BPI, dated January 11.”

Yolanda goes through her files and pulls up the record. “Here we are. We sold thirty-two head to BPI. Got the back-tag number?”

“Here it is. Hereford cross.”

“Right. It came from John App II in Glenville. Here’s his address.”

“Phone number?”

“Here you are: 805-327-4826.”

Now for one of their to-die-for hamburgers and on to the dairies.


Copyright Robert C Hargreaves



Have we forgotten that the police were the chief enforcers of segregation at the height of the civil rights movement 50 years ago? They weren’t very nice about it. Arrests, beatings, even murder were the order of the day.

Could anyone forget Bull Connor and his dogs? Three civil rights workers were killed in Mississippi and six Neshoba County Deputy Sheriffs were convicted of their killing. Or rather they were convicted on federal charges of violating the civil rights of the three after local and state officials refused to try them.

Times have changed. Segregation laws are gone from the books. Sit-ins and Freedom Rides are long gone. Race relations have never been better.

But now events in Ferguson remind us we still have a long way to go. The police in Ferguson act as if nothing has changed in 50 years. They concentrate more on keeping blacks in their “place” rather than performing normal police duties. Their response to mostly peaceful protest has been totally out of place. There is no justification for riot gear, smoke grenades, and rubber bullets under the circumstances. The only riot has been a police riot.

Attorney General Eric Holder must have talked some sense to the authorities in Missouri. The police seem to be quieting down now. But it will be a long time before this is over


copyright Robert C Hargreaves

More Drug Rehab


Gary was different from the others in the drug rehab center. Unlike the others he wasn’t an addict himself. He was referred for drug possession but was actually a dealer. I suspected he stayed in the program to hide from other dealers who were after him.

He was educated and didn’t need my services, but came to my class anyway for something to do. He helped with the other students.

When he learned I was a chicken doctor he told of his weekly visits to the bank to deposit a big roll of cash. “Where did you get all this cash?” the teller asked. He leaned over the counter and whispered “Chickens!”

copyright Robert C Hargreaves

The Dash Diet

Recent trials at Penn State University found that using the DASH diet including meat was heart healthy and useful in controlling blood pressure. “This evidence suggests that it is the total protein intake, not the type of protein, that is instrumental in reducing blood pressure as part of a DASH -like dietary pattern”, the researchers said. DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Developed by the National Institute of Health and recommended by the American Heart Association, it includes:

* whole grains (6 to 8 servings a day)

*vegetables (4 to 5 servings a day)

*fruits (4 to 5 servings a day

*low fat or fat free dairy products (2 to 3 servings a day)

*lean meats, poultry and fish (6 or fewer servings a day) *nuts, seeds and beans (4 to 5 servings a week)

*fats and oils (2 to 3 servings a day)

*sweets, preferably low fat or fat free (5 or fewer a week) *sodium (no more than 2,300 mg a day)

Bon apetit!

copyright Robert C Hargreaves

Lessons in Learning


I majored in Agricultural Education, but I learned more about teaching in he U.S. Army Reserves than I ever did in school. We met two hours a week for instruction and everyone took turns teaching.

The most popular instructors just told jokes and old war stories. Lesson one: Use jokes and stories to keep your students’ attention.

When my turn to teach came I ran through an hours’ lesson in thirty minutes. No one cared – they just filled in with jokes and old war stories. Lesson two: always prepare more material than you expect to use.

More lessons: stay connected with the class and check for feedback.

Everyone was supposed to file a written lesson plan, but no one ever did. Because of my major I was assigned the task of straightening out the lesson files. They didn’t need to be used, just on file for inspections. By the time I finished I was a pro at both preparing lessons and presenting them.

copyright Robert C Hargreaves

The Weekend Warrior


As I entered high school in 1953 there was a 50 per cent chance of being drafted into the military after I graduated, even with no war on the horizon. No one could have foreseen that the draft begun in World War II would continue for another 30 years through the Cold War, Korea, and Vietnam. By the 1950s it already seemed to be a permanent fixture on the American scene.

There were college deferments, but that was just putting it off. They didn’t draft you if you got married, but I didn’t have any near prospects for that. Towards the end of the Korean War the army got so desperate for soldiers they were cancelling college deferments and drafting people right out of college. My uncle Richard got drafted out of graduate school. The war ended before he had to fight, but he was still in for a miserable two years at Fort Ord.
Another alternative was to join the Army Reserves. That meant six months of active duty in the army, three and one half years going to weekly two-hour training sessions, two weeks summer camp each year, then four more years on standby, when you could still be called up but didn’t have to do anything.

That sounded the least disruptive to my own plans. In my junior year in high school in 1956, I joined a military government company in San Bernardino, CA. Their mission was to restore law and order in occupied countries, get the garbage picked up, and get a civilian government running again. I was assigned as a clerk-typist. That summer, we went to a two-week summer camp at Camp Roberts, near San Luis Obispo, CA. We got some training in the use of firearms, but most of the two weeks was spent in the classroom studying about the government. Use of the “f” word was everywhere. At the end of camp, my captain came over, put his arm around me and said, “Now remember, when you get home, stop saying, ‘Pass the fucking butter.’ ”
I returned from summer camp to a new home in Bakersfield, CA, where my father had just got a job with the Kern County Agricultural Commissioner. I transferred to an engineering company in Bakersfield that built Bailey bridges, prefabricated bridges that could be built at the battlefront and pushed across a river in two hours or less. The company had a model set of all the parts and we practiced putting it together. We called it our “tinkertoy set.” We had to learn the names of all the parts, where they went, how much each weighed, and how many men it took to carry it. Half the people in our company were oilfield workers and I picked up a lot of their jargon about mud, slantstock drilling, etc. Our captain was an oilfield engineer with a disfigured face from an oilfield fire.
When I graduated from high school in 1957, I went to Fort Ord for my six months’ active duty. The first eight weeks were basic training in how to use a rifle, bayonet, etc. They tried to get me in physical shape too, but that was a lost cause. I had never been good at sports and eight weeks wasn’t going to make up for it. I couldn’t even throw a hand grenade far enough to avoid getting hit by the blast myself.
At the end of the eight weeks, there was a big graduation ceremony where we were presented for inspection on the parade ground. Before the ceremony the sergeant sent me with five others on a detail to brigade headquarters. When we got there, we were told they didn’t know anything about a detail. The rest of the guys immediately took off, but I hung around for a couple of hours before it dawned on me that we were all misfits they didn’t want at the ceremony—the “Beetle Baileys.”
For the rest of the six months, I was assigned to the Quartermaster Corps for training as a clerk-typist. But there I was told they didn’t need any clerk-typists and was put to work stocking shelves in the commissary, the base grocery store.
I soon learned that the army used the Quartermaster Corps as a place for misfits; that and cooks. Cooks didn’t have to attend daily inspections because of their hours, and didn’t usually carry a rifle. The army has better ways to deal with Beetle Bailey than beating him up. They offered to make a cook out of me but I turned them down.
The quartermaster unit I was assigned to was full of interesting characters. One had gone through a six-month course to be a jeep mechanic, but now he was assigned to sewing up pillows. Another had lost most of his left heel in an accident. He requested a discharge but was turned down. His official duty was in graves registration, but with no new graves to register he was put to work putting together footlockers.
The six months was soon up and I was back in Bakersfield. I started at Bakersfield College in 1958 and was back in my Bailey bridge outfit. That summer we built a real bridge at Camp Roberts. It took us two days to do it. We did better the second time.
Then the army changed tactics to smaller, more mobile units using helicopters, and decided they didn’t need Bailey bridges anymore. We were changed to an engineer construction company and taught how to build roads. They also spent some time teaching demolitions (blowing up things). That summer, we built a road at Camp Roberts and I was made a dump truck driver.
In the spring of 1960, I transferred to U.C. Davis and changed reserve units once more. The only army reserve unit in Davis was an infantry company, commanded by a young veterinarian in private practice, Dr. George West. Dr. West later went to work for the state, and was in Sacramento most of the time I worked for the state. I was still officially a clerk-typist, even though I had never done any clerking or typing. I was majoring in agricultural education, so Dr. West assigned me the task of straightening out their training records and lesson plans. There was supposed to be a lesson plan on file for everything taught at our meetings. Most of the instructors didn’t bother using a lesson plan, though, and those who did use one didn’t do a very good job. I kept busy writing new lesson plans. It didn’t matter if they were used or not; they just needed to look good for inspections. I did get my turn at instructing, and learned what a real lesson plan was supposed to do.
The training sessions were changed from two hours a week to one eight-hour session a month on Saturdays, and we were dubbed “weekend warriors.” They were still talking about the time before I arrived when the company took some blank ammunition home from summer camp to use in their training sessions at Davis. Someone cut loose with a machine gun blast just as a Greyhound bus came around the bend. The terrified bus driver called the sheriff, and the company had a lot of explaining to do.
The next summer camp, in 1960, was combat training. We were sent off with a map and a compass and told to find our way back. An airplane bombed us with flour sacks while we were traveling in convoy. Umpires designated who had died. We dug foxholes and slept in them. For the grand finale, another unit came charging up the hill firing blanks at us while we fired back. One person got carried away and started throwing rocks. Then we all loaded up on the buses and headed back to Davis.
My four years in the active reserves were up at Davis, and I stopped going to training sessions. I still had four more years in standby but forgot all about it. My enlistment finished in 1964. Employers began asking for proof of discharge, but when I inquired about it I was told there had been a fire at their records center, and they had no record of my ever having been in the army! I sent them copies of my own records. A year later, they said they had found my records at another location. I finally got my discharge papers in Saigon, where I was helping Vietnamese raise chickens.

copyright Robert C Hargreaves


Stem Cells

Robert C Hargreaves



I volunteered to be a guinea pig in a heart stem cell study, referred by my new heart doctor after a heart attack a year ago in December.

What a fright that was! I woke in the middle of the night to crushing pain in my chest. I couldn’t even sit up. Fortunately my phone was right there and I called 911. They rushed me to the hospital, but the hospital was full. They put me on a gurney in the hall for several hours before they could get to me. The hall was lined with other patients waiting to get in. When my turn finally came, they sent me in for x-rays and further tests before they started treatment.

When I woke the next afternoon they informed me that both coronary arteries were plugged up and my heart wasn’t getting blood. They did the standard ream and clean with a balloon catheter and installed wire mesh stents to keep the arteries open. The pain was gone, but I wasn’t feeling much better. I still couldn’t get out of bed. I rapidly improved and was released two days later. It took a month before I could walk around comfortably, and I still couldn’t lift more than ten pounds.

I had read that stents frequently plugged up again. The opportunity for stem cells looked like just what I needed. I was already familiar with stem cells. As a veterinarian I knew that stem cells were used to treat arthritis in dogs. The procedure can be conducted in the veterinarian’s office using stem cells extracted from the dog’s fat.

The heart stem cell study was proposing to use stem cells to replace the damaged muscle of the heart. They had already conducted a study in dogs and were proposing two studies in people, the first to establish safety and the second for efficacy. I didn’t consider safety much of an issue. The study didn’t use embryonic stem cells. Instead, they used cells extracted from adult heart muscle.

Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles sent me the five page proposal and two pages to sign agreeing to participate. Then they told me I would have to go through two full days of testing, one week apart, before I could participate in the study. X-rays, cat scans, blood tests, some I had never heard of. They assigned two nurses to accompany and direct me around the huge hospital complex. It was easy to get lost. The ten-story buildings covered two city blocks. I never would have made it without the nurses and my daughter who accompanied me. I was instructed to bring a driver because the tests would incapacitate me. But I got separated from my daughter and couldn’t get her on my cell phone. The walls were lined with lead to protect from x-rays and blocked the cell phone. I finally stepped outside and contacted my daughter again.

After all that, they called and said I was accepted. Could I be there Tuesday at 11 A.M.? I got there early. They thawed out the stem cells, put me under anesthesia, and began the procedure. When they finished and I woke up they told me they weren’t able to inject the stem cells after all. My arteries were clogged up again. They did the ream and clean again, but their protocol said the stem cells couldn’t be used if the coronary arteries were blocked. Even after you unblocked them? Yes even then. That’s what our sponsors say, and they pay the bills. Sorry, we might still get you in later.

I forgot that guinea pigs were disposable.

copyright Robert C Hargreaves

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