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California drought is causing ranchers to sell off cattle which will have a lasting impact

SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. — California is on year three of one of the worst droughts in state history, and it’s hurting our farmers and ranchers.Jim Rickert owns Prather Ranch and has been ranching in the Northstate for more than five decades. He said this could be one of the worst droughts in his lifetime.“It’s been a cause of the significant problem for us,” Rickert said. “In some areas, we have an irrigation distri...

SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. — California is on year three of one of the worst droughts in state history, and it’s hurting our farmers and ranchers.

Jim Rickert owns Prather Ranch and has been ranching in the Northstate for more than five decades. He said this could be one of the worst droughts in his lifetime.

“It’s been a cause of the significant problem for us,” Rickert said. “In some areas, we have an irrigation district there and our allotment from the state water district is zero. So zero is pretty hard to work with.”

He said when people think about the drought they need to remember it goes beyond a lack of water.

“We’re trying to preserve the herds, and the price of hay has doubled, so the feedstuff has really gone up,” Rickert. “And we don’t have as much hay being produced because we have all the drought ”

Rickert said this has meant making some tough and emotional choices like the decision to sell off part of their herd.

“I’ve personally sold off cattle,” Rickert said. “We sold off 200 mother cows out of our herd this spring because I just didn’t have something for them to eat.”

Inflation also plays a role in their hard times. He said their input costs have increased exponentially thanks to inflation. Farming necessities such as fertilizer, hay, and even power bills for needing to pump water have all increased.

This isn't just a problem for the present, it causes a chain reaction because of how long it takes to raise and breed cattle.

“That calf is born today won’t be able to have a calf until its two years old and then that calf won’t be ready to be marketed until a year and a half, two years after that,” Rickert said.

Even if California gets rain to offset the drought, Rickert said the effects of it will be felt long after it's gone.

“It needs to rain, that's what it needs to do,” Ricker said. “We need more precipitation. And when we get that done we’ll be back on board but we aren’t going to be through it. You’re going to have to rebuild the herds and that takes time. It just takes time.”

There is help for farmers in need The California Department of Food and Agriculture as well as the USDA Disaster Assistance Programs have programs to help farmers in need.

Self-help: Set aside one week to put your sleep issues to bed

Sleep, the great white whale. OK, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but it is certainly my white whale, at least these last two years. I’m constantly obsessing about it, trying to create a flawless sleep routine that allows me to greet the day like a Disney princess. When I wake up tired and groggy, I fixate on what exactly went wrong. Is it my pillows? My mattress? If I can find the culprit, I can vanquish it and get eight glorious hours of sleep as my reward. Turns out (of course) it’s a lot more complicated than that.&...

Sleep, the great white whale. OK, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but it is certainly my white whale, at least these last two years. I’m constantly obsessing about it, trying to create a flawless sleep routine that allows me to greet the day like a Disney princess. When I wake up tired and groggy, I fixate on what exactly went wrong. Is it my pillows? My mattress? If I can find the culprit, I can vanquish it and get eight glorious hours of sleep as my reward. Turns out (of course) it’s a lot more complicated than that.

“The Sleep Prescription: Seven Days to Unlocking Your Best Rest” by Aric A. Prather is designed to help you figure out exactly what’s troubling your sleep. Prather, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of California San Francisco, takes us beyond anodyne tips like “turn off your phone” and digs into the way our body responds to all of the various factors that make up our lives over the course of a given week. For each of seven days, the book guides you to focus on one aspect of building a good sleep routine, paying attention to how your mind works in concert with your body and the sleep habits you’ve built over your lifetime. If you’re a regular reader of this column, you know I love a self-help book with practical tips. Come along on my journey of unlocking my best sleep.

Day One: Confession, day one is all about setting your internal clock, and I was feeling rather smug about it. “If you get up at 6 a.m. some days, and then other days at 9, you’re throwing off your circadian rhythm. You’re putting yourself, intentionally, into a state of jet lag,” Prager writes. Thankfully, I am pretty dedicated to my morning routine, and usually get up between 7:30-8. Nailed it!

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Day Two is all about stress. Hmmm. Well. Stress and bad sleep are even more closely linked than I had thought. How you feel stress and how you manage it changes how you sleep. And of course, the less well-rested you are, the worse you handle stress. Prather recommends building in time to relax during the day — “micro breaks” he calls them. And it makes sense, when I think about my tendency to keep moving and working without letting myself feel any of the stress I might be carrying. Of course it rushes up right when I’m trying to sleep. So on day two, I try to work in 10 minutes of yoga twice a day, right on the floor of my office, with mixed results.

Day Three: The Mid-Afternoon slump. It’s gratifying to know that many people have the same feelings of exhaustion and low motivation that I do when the clock strikes 3. It’s less gratifying to be reminded that my midafternoon Diet Coke is probably not helping my sleep. Conceding the point, I try to follow today’s recommendation. I know I’m more alert and focused in the morning, so I plan a day with a long midday break built in, letting myself rest when I am more likely to be tired. Dr. Prather suggests a walk, which makes me cranky, but I have to admit I feel better after a stroll in the early-fall sun.

Day Four: “Worry Early.” Uh oh. Not only worry, but deadly rumination. You know, that tendency when you are lying in bed to review every embarrassing thing you’ve ever done? Turns out some people are more prone to this sleep-disrupting habit, and it’s without a doubt the thing that troubles me the most. Prather’s answer is to build in time to deal with the things that stress you out earlier in the day. I particularly liked his suggestion to create a plan for the things I was worried about. That way, when those pesky thoughts drifted in at night, I could tell myself “you have a plan for this.” It didn’t make a difference overnight, but it’s a habit I can see working for me once it’s fully a part of my routine.

Day Five: Winding Down. I already know I won’t sleep well if I’m scrolling through TikTok or Twitter. Everyone recommends reading before bed, but this book finally helped me understand why that didn’t work for me. Winding down does not mean “do things we have been told are winding-down activities,” it means “find something that relaxes you.” Reading, as nerdy as it sounds, simply excites me too much! I cannot count the number of times I have stayed up till 2 because the book I’m reading is too delightful to put down. I had to find something that actually calmed me down. Journaling, I discovered, is that thing.

Day Six: Retrain your brain. OK, I am still working on this one. The idea is to train your brain and body to be tired in your bed, and to stop whiling away the hours in bed if you’re wakeful. “Don’t get in bed unless you’re sleepy, and if you can’t sleep, get up,” Prather says. (In my mind, he says this sternly but kindly.) This is … shockingly hard. It feels wild to get out of bed and sit in the living room when I am ready for sleep but still awake. I’ve been getting better at sticking to it, and it’s helping, but I have not mastered it yet.

Day Seven: Stay up late! This is the most intimidating task, and the one I have yet to try. Partially because it involves math to figure out how efficiently you’re sleeping, and partially because I didn’t have time to try this out in my ideal setting. The basic idea is that you push yourself to stay up late, thereby ensuring you fall right to sleep and stay asleep, and then you gradually add 15-minute increments to your new late-night routine. The science of it makes sense to me — by building backward like this, you can find the ideal time and duration for your sleep routine.

Sleep is deeply personal, but “The Sleep Prescription” is the first book that showed me it’s possible to understand the science behind it, and find a way to unlock those perfect, restful hours. The book comes out on Nov. 1.

The Sleep Prescription: Seven Days to Unlocking Your Best Rest,” by Aric A. Prather, Penguin Life, $13.95.

Can’t Sleep? Try Sticking Your Head in the Freezer.

In a new book, a sleep scientist offers tips for better rest — without reaching for a pill.A good night’s sleep can make us more empathetic, more creative, better parents and better partners, according to Aric Prather, a psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco who treats insomnia and is the author of the new book “The Sleep Prescription.” Sleep can help us manage stress; it can make us competent and capable and better able to take on the day. But Dr. Prather says we too often view sleep as a...

In a new book, a sleep scientist offers tips for better rest — without reaching for a pill.

A good night’s sleep can make us more empathetic, more creative, better parents and better partners, according to Aric Prather, a psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco who treats insomnia and is the author of the new book “The Sleep Prescription.” Sleep can help us manage stress; it can make us competent and capable and better able to take on the day. But Dr. Prather says we too often view sleep as an afterthought — until we find ourselves frozen in the middle of the night, our thoughts racing, fumbling for rest or relief.

Some people might reach for a supplement or sleep aid. A 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found that one in eight adults with trouble sleeping reported using sleep aids. But Dr. Prather said there are simple steps we can take throughout the day and night to get better rest, which he outlines in the book, out Nov. 1 from Penguin Life. “It’s not something you do,” he added. “It’s something that comes to you.”

Here are some of his science-backed tips for sounder sleep.

During the day

“No one ever says, ‘I was awake in the middle of the night, and I was only thinking of good things,’” Dr. Prather said. Throughout the day, we might be too busy to linger on our thoughts, but at night, when we try to let our brains pause without distractions, “our thoughts can get very, very loud,” Dr. Prather wrote.

To beat back nightime rumination and anxiety, Dr. Prather recommended in an interview devoting part of your day to worry. Block out 10 to 20 minutes to write down what you’re anxious about, or just think about it, without searching for a solution. If you do that consistently, he said, your worries won’t seep into the night — and if they do, you can remind yourself that you have a dedicated time to address them the next day.

If you regularly reach for coffee to get you through an afternoon slump, you’ll still have caffeine in your system by bedtime, said Dr. Prather.

Instead, he recommends getting an energy boost elsewhere. You can go for a brisk walk in the afternoon, or spend five to 10 minutes taking a break from work and engaging your brain in a simple task — pull weeds in the garden, reorganize a bookshelf, turn on some music and really focus on a song. Focusing on a non-work task can energize our brains, Dr. Prather said, jolting us out of our routine. Or, for a more extreme option, stick your head in the freezer. That brief shock of cold activates your arousal system, Dr. Prather said, like jumper cables on a car battery to wake you up — no coffee run needed.

Your computer, a heap of laundry, the pile of sticky notes reminding you of all of your unfinished tasks — clear those all out of the room where you sleep. If that’s not possible, at least move them so you can’t see them from your bed, Dr. Prather advises. You want your sleeping area to calm you down, not remind you of everything you need to get done.

To further set yourself up for sleep, get blackout curtains to block out light, or invest in a comfortable sleep mask. And consider turning down the heat — or turning up the air conditioning — so that your sleeping area is between 60 and 68 degrees at night. You want your room to be dark and cool, Dr. Prather said, in order to prod the core temperature of our bodies to drop, which happens naturally as we sleep.

Before bed

You can’t expect your brain to instantly power down the way a laptop does when you close the lid, Dr. Prather said. Instead, you should plan a transition period that lets your brain wind down. Sometimes that’s not possible, he acknowledged; work deadlines and parenting responsibilities might mean you’re engaged right up until you turn off the lights. But ideally, you would give yourself a two hour period to “turn down the volume on your sympathetic nervous system,” he said, cuing to your body and brain that you’re gearing up to rest.

You should spend that time doing something pleasant and soothing, like listening to a favorite podcast, chatting on the couch with your partner or watching TV. Dr. Prather offers his patients what he calls a menu of options for that power-down period — they can take a luxurious bath, write in a gratitude journal or even sit outside, weather permitting, and look at the stars. The goal is to find “low arousal” activities that you enjoy, he said.

Many clinicians caution against screen time before bed, but Dr. Prather said he pays more attention to the content of what people consume as they settle down for the night, rather than whether they’re looking at a laptop, a paperback or their phone. A thriller — whether it’s a novel or a movie — can prompt you to stay awake a bit longer or to mull over the answer to a mystery as you’re trying to fall asleep. Instead, he recommended watching something calming, and ideally, a show you’ve seen before. Dr. Prather turns to “The Office,” which he said he’s rewatched more times than he can count, because he already knows what happens next.

If you’re struggling to stay asleep in the night

As people age, especially in their fifties, sixties and seventies, sleep can become more fragmented, Dr. Prather said. People may need to urinate in the night more frequently, or pain might keep them awake. But it’s essential that older adults get sufficient rest — a recent study found that adults over 50 who slept for five hours or less each night had a greater risk of developing chronic diseases than those who slept for at least seven hours.

In general, if you are struggling to fall or stay asleep you should get out of bed, Dr. Prather said. Give yourself 20 minutes or so to try to sleep, but if you’re still wired, head to the couch or living room and do something quiet, Dr. Prather advised, like knitting or meditating. You only want to associate the position you sleep in with actually falling asleep; if your body gets used to staying awake, and struggling to sleep, in that position, you’ll have a harder time conditioning yourself to sleep through the night.

If you don’t want to move, or are unable to, even sitting up in the bed can help rewire your brain or flipping over and placing your head where your feet typically lay. While in that new position, you can read, listen to soft, gentle music or put on a soothing podcast — any activity that winds you down, until you feel sleepy again and are ready to get back into your sleeping position.

When people are in the throes of a sleepless night, they often stress about how the lack of sleep will clobber them the next day, Dr. Prather said. But one or even a few nights of little rest won’t ruin the way you sleep long-term, Dr. Prather said. “Any parent of small kids can tell you that you can survive on less sleep,” he said. “You can have these off nights. Your body is resilient.”

If you consistently find yourself unable to sleep, you might want to seek out a therapist or clinician trained in cognitive behavioral therapy, which Dr. Prather uses to treat insomnia. Even in chronic cases, he said, poor sleep is curable. A sleep specialist may also prescribe medication in extreme cases or treat underlying conditions that can lead to poor sleep, like sleep apnea.

“When people have insomnia, because it’s so distressing, they’re trying to figure out all the things they can do to allow sleep to work again, like, ‘What can I fix?’ And that kind of effort is actually incompatible with sleeping,” he said. “Sleeping’s about letting go.”

UC San Diego Atmospheric Chemist Kim Prather Elected to American Philosophical Society

A distinguished scientist and professor at the University of California San Diego has been inducted into America’s oldest learned society, joining the ranks of other noteworthy Triton faculty and alumni. Kimberly Prather, Distinguished Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry and Distinguished Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the School of Physical Sciences has been selected to join the American Philosophical Society. Prather is among 37 new members elected in 2022, and the ...

A distinguished scientist and professor at the University of California San Diego has been inducted into America’s oldest learned society, joining the ranks of other noteworthy Triton faculty and alumni. Kimberly Prather, Distinguished Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry and Distinguished Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the School of Physical Sciences has been selected to join the American Philosophical Society. Prather is among 37 new members elected in 2022, and the first from UC San Diego since 2010.

“I am honored to join the APS along with so many other academic and cultural luminaries,” said Prather. “It’s a reflection of the efforts of my research group and support I’ve received from the UC San Diego community in addressing the importance of our work in confronting the challenges of climate change head-on, using innovative strategies.”

Prather’s work focuses on how human emissions affect the atmosphere, climate and health. She joined the faculty of UC San Diego in 2001 and has five patents for her innovations in mass spectrometry for environmental chemistry lab and field studies. In 2019, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In April 2020, she became a member of the National Academy of Sciences for her contributions to aerosol chemistry. She is an elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Prather is also an advisory board member for UC San Diego’s Institute for Practical Ethics.

She is the founding director of the NSF-funded Center for Aerosol Impacts on Chemistry of the Environment, and is currently working to understand the health and environmental impacts of ocean-derived pollutants and toxins in runoff and outfalls and the concentration of particles small enough to lodge deeply in human lungs and impact our health.

“The urgency of addressing pollution and climate issues cannot be overstated,” Prather said. “It motivates me each day to wake up and share my findings with local, federal, and world leaders to help drive these issues into our broader conversation that will lead to solutions.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Prather co-authored several high-profile publications, as well as a letter to the Biden Administration, calling for immediate action to address and limit airborne transmission of COVID-19 and inhalation exposure, which helped improve public-health protections for people around the world. She has advised local and federal government officials, school districts, businesses, and the public at large on how to safely reopen and remain open, with a focus on cleaning indoor air using filtration and ventilation.

Founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin to “promote useful knowledge,” the APS honors and engages distinguished scientists, humanists, social scientists and cultural leaders in a spirit of interdisciplinary intellectual fellowship. It provides the nation’s top intellectuals and scholars with opportunities for research, networking and public engagement. Over the years, members have included George Washington, Thomas Paine, Charles Darwin, Robert Frost and Albert Einstein. Since 1960, 22 prominent UC San Diego members have been elected including astronomer Margaret Burbridge, philosopher of science Nancy Cartwright, biologist Francis Crick, and professor of chemistry and former chancellor Marye Anne Fox.

Mizzou will use $8 million NIH grant to meet demand for its modified pigs

Despite constant turnover of genetically modified pigs because of high demand, the pens at the National Swine Resource and Research Center at the University of Missouri remain full, said Randall Prather, its director."Every pig pen is full," said Prather, a Curator's Distinguished Professor. "The swine center sends pigs all over the country."An $8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will allow the swine center to double its space for animals, Prather said.The facility w...

Despite constant turnover of genetically modified pigs because of high demand, the pens at the National Swine Resource and Research Center at the University of Missouri remain full, said Randall Prather, its director.

"Every pig pen is full," said Prather, a Curator's Distinguished Professor. "The swine center sends pigs all over the country."

An $8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will allow the swine center to double its space for animals, Prather said.

The facility was designed to be expanded when it was built 20 years ago, Prather said. Still, it won't be a quick turnaround.

"We break ground in 2024," Prather said. "This next year is all figuring the design. NIH has to approve everything."

It's a clean facility, with showers required when entering, he said.

In January, a pig heart that included a gene edit developed at MU was transplanted into a 57-year-old Maryland man. The modification prevented immediate rejection of the heart. David Bennett Sr. died after two months with the heart.

More recently, a surgeon in the College of Medicine at Medical University of South Carolina tested pig-to-pig transplant of heart valves and surrounding tissue that MU developed to fluoresce, or "glow," under ultraviolet light.

It showed that transplanting the valve with the surrounding tissue allowed the valve to grow with the pig.

Human heart valves that were transplanted without the tissue don't grow, Prather said. It "dooms" the recipient to repeated heart surgeries over their lives.

After three pig-to-pig transplants, the surgeon was on a team at Duke University that performed a human-to-human partial heart transplant on a baby using the technique, Prather said. The child is thriving.

"He practiced on pigs and showed it worked on a child," Prather said.

That surgeon, Taufiek Rajab, sent Prather's lab an appreciative email.

"Thanks again for all your generous contributions to this project, it would not be possible without you," Rajab wrote.

Prather has seen a video of the child.

"It's a heart-wrencher," Prather said of the video.

The intellectual property rights expire in December, Prather said.

"We'll never make any money on it," he said, adding the most important thing is it works and is helping people.

The NIH recognizes the importance of the work done at the National Swine Resource and Research Center, Prather said.

"They do recognize the successes we've had," Prather said. "I think people see that."

He remains stymied with Food and Drug Administration approval for agricultural uses for genetically modified pigs, he said.

The MU modifications can eliminate porcine reproductive and respiratory virus, he said in January.

"It's still working its way through their system," Prather said. "There's no reason not to approve it."

Roger McKinney is the Tribune's education reporter. You can reach him at [email protected] or 573-815-1719. He's on Twitter at @rmckinney9.

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