Almost done

Gasp! Shock Horror! I’m almost finished with my final year of vet school and this blog is not much to show for it…sorry

In other exciting news, my Fiancee Visa application for my darling partner in crime, Ducky,  has been accepted! so we will be moving forward with that and I will be bringing my darling bride home with me!

On the vet side of things, I have completed all of my core rosters and now just get to finish up my externships, special topics, and track rosters.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in all parts of the vet hospital and if it weren’t for my health concerns, I would most definitely consider pursuing a large animal or mixed practice career.  Gosh I just love cows and sheep…maybe I’ll look for work in Norco where they have all sorts of cool large animals ^_~.

My schedule for the rest of the year isn’t too bad.  The one week of vacation I have scheduled is right in the butter zone for when the US consulate will be looking to have my darling Kiwi and I come in for an interview *sigh* such is life.  We will move things around in a heartbeat for that though, it is way more important than taking pictures in Queenstown.  Plus that will give us an excuse to go travelling after the wedding (December 17!) .

I should probably stop procrastinating and actually get some work done today…its almost lunch time and I’ve spent entirely too much time just dancing with joy after finding out about the visa application stuff.


Toodaloo my little possums! Have fun in Internet land!


Final Year, Finally

Well it has been a while hasn’t it.  I’m quite sure that many things happened and that some of them at least were interesting.  Unfortunately I can’t remember any of it in any detail worth writing down, so suffice to say that I survived all the way to my fifth and final year with only a few needle stick injuries.

One thing that has definitely made the journey infinitely harder is that my Psoriatic Arthritis (diagnosed in pre-vet) has progressed thanks to the ridiculous amounts of stress that vet school presents.  Fortunately I have a fantastic rheumatologist and my medications are working most of the time.  Sometimes the stress overwhelms the meds and I need stronger stuff, but for the most part I’m adequately medicated.  This has added a sticky layer of difficulty to the cake that is vet school.  Most of my classmates have been very understanding and help me out when I need it, they don’t really know what I’m going through but they can tell it is no fun.

One thing that has made life infinitely better is my wonderful girlfriend.  She takes care of me and makes sure that I take care of myself.  Without her, my life would be so much harder.  I am a very lucky person to have her in my life.

So far in 5th year I have survived 2 weeks of equine hospital (one of the hardest rosters), 2 weeks of mandatory lecture (second to last lecture block of my vet school career), and half a week of OWNS at a clinic near my mum here in California.  I will finish out this week, then have a week with my horse’s vet also here in So Cal, and then I will be off back to New Zealand to do my rosters out there.

I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Years and that the last couple years since I last posted haven been good ones.  Hopefully I will post more this year between assignments and rosters.



End of Break and First Week Back

The second week of dairy practical work went much more smoothly than the first.  Owner was away on his pre-vacation vacation and didn’t return until Friday, so we didn’t have to deal with any of his “projects”.  Instead we worked on more lame cows and dried off about 10 cows that Farmer had saved for us to work on.

Dry Cow Therapy involves squirting (that is the technical term I assure you) an antibiotic paste directly into the udder so that any bacteria that are hiding out there are killed off before the next season.  We followed this video pretty closely, except that we milked the cows out first and did the therapy in the milking parlour.  Also, instead of a teat dip we used a teat spray which accomplishes the same thing with a different method.

We also met a relief milker (M) who has been milking on that farm since he was 14 years old (he just turned 17 last weekend).  The previous owner hired him at that age and had him milking by himself.  He also charged him to sleep in a Winnebago type deal behind the house.  Utterly ridiculous if you ask me.  M was a good kid though, hard working and knowledgeable and really good with the cows.  I would probably let him date my niece, maybe.  He was fun to tease and banter with when he finally came out of his shell.  Farmer gave him no end of ribbing (builds character), but he took it well and even gave back as good as he got every so often.

We started tagging cows (spray paint on the legs) to indicate which ones had long feet and needed to be drafted off to be worked on.  A few were so bad that they were actually unbalanced.  A few were also lame.  One, number 75, had foot rot.  I have pictures for you at the end of this because I’m too tired and/or lazy to bother putting them in with the words.  We trimmed their feet as best we could and made sure that they had nice looking feet before we sent them back to the herd.  One cow had a horn that was growing toward her skull, so we trimmed that off to keep it from damaging her.  Most of the cows were very nice, but some were pretty “stroppy” as Farmer liked to say.  They didn’t like being near people and didn’t like being in the crush.  Number 75 (and a few others) actually came up for head scratches.  This can be dangerous because the “nice” ones don’t fear humans and so have the potential to run a human over if they are afraid of something else or get angry for any reason.  It is still nice to be able to scratch them and feel a bit of connection.

With the help of M, we finished the fence in the paddock across the road and so the cows got to enjoy a very nice paddock full of lush grass.  I have now seen an entire herd of Happy Cows.  They actually trotted around with food in their mouths looking very pleased with themselves.  It is a sight to behold.  Unfortunately they were only that excited because it had been so long since they had had a nice lush paddock.  The drought has been awful for them.

On Friday, Farmer took M, my classmate, and me out for lunch as a thank you for giving him the week to sleep in and not milk.  The food was pretty good and it was nice to get away from the farm for a bit.

Overall, I really enjoyed working on the farm.  Even with the shortcomings that are perpetuated by the stubborn Owner it was a great deal of fun and I am definitely suited to farm life.  I am looking forward to two more weeks next semester when we get to feed calves as well as milk.

Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure:


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Cows being milked

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Cows waiting to be milked

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The After pic seems to be ahead of the before pic…not sure how that happened

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before having her horn trimmed (she did NOT like being there)

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It was very dark in the mornings

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Leg tagged because those are some LONG feet

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What the cows look like in the crush on the farm that I worked at

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Foot with some minor trimming off of the toe

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After a good cleanup

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Standing better

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Number 75 was a doll

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The view was pretty nice…I will definitely miss the view


Week one of Dairy Work Done and Dusted

Thursday was just as exhausting as I expected it to be.  It started with the morning milking at 5:30 am, followed by breakfast and then straight to tires.   The cows were a little weird in the morning, pooping more and extra fidgety, apparently that happens sometimes.  We drove up to the washout (where the cows are wintered) and picked up another truck and trailer load of car tires and drove it down to the drain.  We finished throwing them into the trench while Owner tied them together and covered them in plastic.  We finished the row by around 11:30 am and Owner used his tractor to fill rocks and dirt on top of them.  My classmate and I took the dog, Pippie, down to the river because there wasn’t anything that we could actually do at that point.

The river is gorgeous.  The water is crystal clear and cool.  It is low now because of the drought, but we can see how high it usually gets, so it is also deep and clean.  There are trout that live in it and we saw a few juvenile fish in the shallows.  Pippie chased sticks across it, but we didn’t go swim because it wasn’t quite warm enough to be worth it.  We stayed down there for about 30 minutes before heading up to the house to grab lunch because we didn’t want to end up missing it.  After eating we headed back to the drain and found Owner and the farmer building up a bank at the end using the enormous truck tires that were too heavy for us to actually lift.

Once that was finished, we put the unused tires back on the trailer and drove them over to the other drain that needs to be made and emptied them out.  I am so sick of moving tires at this point it’s not even funny.  We had enough time to have a cup of tea and the farmer to grab something to eat before we had to head down and get the cows.

The afternoon milking was worse than the morning milking in terms of having the cows pooping on us (afternoons usually are), and it took us longer than normal to get them through.  They also were headed up the hill again, so we had to wash everything down and then drive them across the road, which took extra time.  By the time we got home it was 6:oo pm, over 12 hours of work put in.

Yesterday wasn’t as bad.  We arrived for the morning milking a bit late because there was a house being moved down the main highway from Palmerston North to Ashurst.  That’s correct, an entire house.  Well, to be fair the house was cut in half, but it was still an extra wide load that could not be passed.  We positioned ourselves across the road from where the cows were going to cross and waited for them to arrive.  When they finally did we crossed them as quickly as possible.  This time there were a couple of cars waiting for the cows to cross, so I guess they will get to explain to their employers that they were late because of cows.  Things that only happen in rural areas.  The cows had a very good morning, only a few pooped in the shed and we were able to move them through quickly and get to breakfast around 8:00 am.  I did get my hand kicked into a pole, causing quite a nice bruise, but that was my own fault for not moving fast enough and reading her warning signs.  The farmer stayed down and fed out some balage so my classmate and I took the chance to grab a nap.

Apparently the owner was away on a fishing trip so no tires were thrown!  After sleeping for about an hour, the farmer showed us the computer program that they use to track the cows.  Information from the herd testing is stored and used to show which cows are problems and which cows are good producers.  There are far too many “dogs” in this herd.  Several with insanely high SSC’s and a few that are producing fewer than 5 litres of milk per day (which is the minimum amount of milk production for dry cow therapy to work).  We discussed ways that we would change the farm if it were up to us and not the Owner and his pocket book (and extreme reluctance to spend any money on the farm).  We came to the conclusion that the only solution was to beat the owner about the head and shoulders with a Clue-By-Four, possibly one with nails in it, and hope that either he brightened up or whoever inherited the farm after him had sense enough to change things.  His lack of willingness to change is impacting animal welfare in ways that drives me absolutely batty.

We lazed around the house and had lunch while the farmer waited for a call from someone that he was supposed to pick up in town (to help mend the fence over the weekend).  The guy never called him back, so we drove up the hill and walked the severely lame cow down to the yard to work on her foot.  Her abscess was so bad that her bad foot was easily twice the size of the others.  As she walked down the hill, the pressure from walking actually caused it to pop out the top and bleed a little at the hairline.  It took quite a lot of digging to find where the infection started at the sole of her foot, but eventually we found a soft spot and worked from there.  Her hoof was incredibly hard so it was slow going trying to dig down to the abscess track.  When we did find it, it smelled awful and was enormous.  We were finally able to dig out most of it while leaving her some foot left to grow back.  We applied a cowslip like we did on the other abscess we worked on, and then jabbed her full of antibiotics.  The withholding period for this antibiotic for milk is 2 days (4 milkings) but she is dry (not lactating) so that is not important for her.  The meat withholding period is 30 days, so it will be a month before she will be able to be shipped to slaughter.  Since she isn’t pregnant and so won’t be milking next season, there is no reason to keep her.  We had to fix her up though because it is illegal (thankfully) to ship lame animals and animals with abscessed feet can’t enter the human consumption food chain.  She will most likely be turned into ground beef and exported to North America or Asia for hamburgers.

After we finished her foot, it was about time to bring the cows in for the afternoon milking.  We moved her into the close paddock so that she can get a few more doses of antibiotic over the next few days, and then drove up to the house so that the farmer could get the two wheel motorbike and a cup of tea.  Then we drove down and herded the cows in to milk.  We had another amazingly good milking with very little pooping and not much general grumpiness.  We finished the afternoon milking before 5:00 pm despite starting a bit later than usual and made it home by 5:30 pm.  All in all a good Friday.

The weekend so far has been very relaxing and full of sleeping in and doing nothing.  I cleaned a little and did some laundry, but mostly I played Harvest Moon, because I didn’t get enough of milking real cows or something.

Edited to add a video of Happy Cows in a pasture


Back on the horse

I have made it back to New Zealand, and finally have internet set up in the new flat (quite an adventure that I will have to tell you about another time), so hopefully the blog will pick back up as I recover from prolonged jetlag (thanks to cat keeping me awake nights).

My first week of school is almost through and I seem to have survived it alright, though my brain is a tad bit fuzzy from anatomy lab today.  Tomorrow is Friday and a short day at that so hopefully I will have a much better post for you then.  (Possibly even a recap of my summer/winter adventures).

As of now, I am too tired to give more than this, so I will put myself to bed with promises of making things up to you.

Here is a picture of my cat for your enjoyment. Image