Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I'll tell you what.....

I apologize for the delay in posting, but I've been absorbed in reviewing everything I've learned over the past 3 years on cattle, horses, pigs, sheep etc because I am on my ambulatory large animal medicine block. That's right folks, I'm doin' the James Harriot thing for three weeks. I've already completed the first week and have been delightfully surprised. I initially came in with much anxiety and concern about the danger of working with the large animals and the smell that comes with them. However, my first week involved working with exclusively cattle (both beef and dairy) and I had a blast. The clinicians are fantastic, the clients are real characters and most importantly, you're outside and driving around everywhere! Speaking of which, the picture shown here is of my classmates and I returning to the truck after cutting the teat off of a lactating beef cow that had severe mastitis in one of the quarters of its udder. Note, there was a bridge we could use, but since we were wearing coveralls and big rubber boots, what fun would there be in doing that. :)

I do admit that I am very fortunate to be attending school in such a beautiful area of the country. While driving around, the views of the Appalachian mountains still never cease to amaze me. Initially, however, I was a bit concerned because some of the calls have been to farms out in....how shall I say......Deliverance country. Every client that I've met has been great to work with and very friendly. I'm trying to diet at the moment, and these farmers are making difficult by offering us their delicious home-made country foods, and it's considered an insult to turn it down. As mentioned previously, the food animal clinicians are really nice, very willing to teach, and very down to Earth. There's one clinician in particular that I've worked with alot this past week, and I'm grateful to him for his patience with us small animal folks, and for the memories that will last with me forever. In addition, he goes to Hardee's every single day for lunch (no joke) and somehow remains in fantastic shape.

On my first day of the block (first call actually), we were called out to this beef cattle farm about an hour south of the school to help pull a calf out of a cow who should've been out two days prior. Before I go further, I need to point out why I said "beef cattle". Dairy cattle spend their whole lives being handled and spending alot of time indoors, so they are much, much easier to work with; beef cattle however live out on pasture their whole lives and you have to herd them into a chute to work with them....and they aren't too fond of the idea either. The farmer claimed that the cow trusts him and won't run away if its just him, so we gave the farmer a syringe with sedative in it to give the cow (which he did with no problem), and we went to go check on it in a few minutes. We offroad through the pasture to where the cow was laying on its belly, thinking to ourselves that the sedative worked. The clinician hopped out of the truck and got a rope ready to lasso her head and try to tie her to a fencepost long enough to put a halter on her. Before doing so, the clinician told me to hop in the driver's seat of the truck and get ready to drive it, and I had no idea why. I quickly learned why as the cow lept up after getting lassoed and started to take off with the clinician holding on and running for dear life shouting at me, "Drive the truck to me so I can tie her to it!" While I do know how to drive stick, I've never driven a big pick-up truck before, nor have I driven off road on Appalachian mountain foothills at a 60 degree angle. The clinician is actually a really big guy, easily 6'5" and built like a house, but the cow couldn't have cared less. So here I was driving this truck around the pasture after this cow, and I guess fate pitied us because the cow ran indoors where the clinician could tie her to a wall.

Thankfully, we were able to save the cow because we could take the calf out without much difficulty or surgery, but the calf was long dead. This was the first time the cow had given birth, and sometimes they just produce calves that are too large for them to come out naturally. I still have plenty more stories, but I'm going to stop here for tonight because I can go on for while, but I will be doing my best to post each day this week to catch up on all my stories. Thanks for reading!

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