Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Long-Awaited Update!

Hello! I'm finally back from pretty much a straight month of farming, which began 3 hours after my last exam. It's been a bit hectic, but ended up being pretty fun!

Anyway, so first lets go over the whole exam bit. I found out that I passed all of my exams except one, which honestly I knew was going to happen cause I hadn't had any time to revise on the first go. So I am thrilled! I've been revising like mad for the resit in August, so I feel like even though I'd rather have passed it the first time around, I might actually learn it better this way rather than cramming the night before. And it's the one subject (Animal Husbandry) that I don't mind resitting, because I know it's incredibly relevant to my career. While other things are still important, like anatomy and immunology and whatnot, I think it's more important to know how to properly take care of and feed a horse than to know the exact inner workings of a T cell.

So anyway, I'm almost in the home stretch of my first year! I can't believe in a little over 2 months I'll be in third year! It's absolutely bonkers, but I'm so thrilled. I have to admit, starting out vet school, especially with my hectic, awful and painful beginning, I was a bit doubtful. Mostly doubtful about whether I'd be able to handle everything when I was not quite there mentally because of my mother, but I also felt (as I'm sure most vet students feel at one point or another) like maybe I really couldn't handle all the work, or maybe I wouldn't be able to learn it all. But I think I'm finally getting into the swing of things, and I'm starting to realize that even though I may not be doing the same sort of memorization I did in college, that I seem to be picking up things and retaining information even after hearing it just once. I suppose that must have to do with the fact that this course is directly relevant to my life. This is what I've been working for since I can remember, so I'm already more open to learning about this stuff than, say, history, which is interesting enough, but really doesn't help me in my life at all.

So anyway, after my last exam, Anik and I packed our bags and headed down to Yorkshire for some dairy farming. We went to the same farm we went lambing at over Easter, because the family we were staying with was extremely nice, and we already knew we were comfortable staying with them, so it was very convenient.

For the dairy cows, we got up at around 6:30am every day, to be ready to milk the cows at 7am. At first I was pretty terrified of the cows. They're just so big, and even though I know a dairy cow wouldn't try to hurt me for doing something that's done to them twice a day every day (i.e. putting the milkers on), I just don't like the idea that a 2 tonne animal could step on me or kick me by accident. Anyway, so there were about 60 cows to milk every day, which took about 1 1/2 hours, and then we went to feed the calves excess milk and give them more straw and hay. Afterward we went in for breakfast, and then hung out for a bit before seeing what else was to be done. Most days we helped out with the sheep and lambs, which was cool because we got to see the lambs we saw over Easter again. Then at 6pm we would get ready for another round of milking before tea and bed.
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Wiping off the teats before putting the milkers on
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Anik wiping off her cow
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The calves were housed separately, and we had to feed them every day
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Some days, because there was time in between the milkings, and because we really were only there for the cows, we got to go sightseeing. One day we went into the town of Skipton, where there is a "small" castle.
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Skipton Castle
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Sitting in the courtyard of the castle
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Anik demonstrates the workings of an ancient loo
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Another day we hiked a prehistoric glacial waterfall. There was no water running in it now, except a small stream at the bottom, but it was so cool! It was absolutely huge, and kind of awing to imagine water crashing down it.
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Approaching the massive cliff
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View from the top - it took a lot of steps to get up there.. Phew!
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Me frolicking to the edge. Don't worry, I didn't go too close, it was a loooong way down!
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We stopped at a pub and had a delicious lunch. I had a highland cow steak!
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Anik had a rabbit pie!
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Another night we took off to get dressed up and head out to the local club for a night of dancing. It was quite a fun night!

Anyway, so after those two weeks, I went back to Edinburgh for a night before heading up to Inchture to Teen Ranch Scotland to work with their horses. Because this was a Christian organisation, every day was started off with devotions, which for the first week involved listening to a book on tape of Corrie ten Boom, called "Tramp for God." I came in about halfway through the book, so I didn't really enjoy it all that much, and honestly I hate books on tape to begin with, because to me it doesn't do anything for me, like reading a book might.

After devos, I went with the rest of the horse staff down to the barn, where we rounded up the horses from their various pastures and brought them back into the yard and fed those that needed feeding, and then groomed and tacked (i.e. put the saddles on) all the horses. After that we'd have morning tea (unless there was a camp going on) up at the house for 15 minutes, then back down for more grooming or trail rides before lunch at 1pm. After lunch, we'd go back down to the barn for more trail rides if the camps were in, and then untacked, groomed again, and cleaned everything for the next day before putting the horses back out to pasture.

I think this horse EMS was probably the best one I've been on. Our Yard Manager, Pam, was once a nurse and also worked in research, so she was exceptionally knowledgable about the horses, and I learned so much from her. She even let Alan and I ride the horses on the trail rides whenever there was a spare, and it was quite fun! The only mishap was that that last morning a horse decided to stomp on my toe, so now I have a (most likely) broken toe. But oh well. Such is life!
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The house we stayed in. So gorgeous!
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The horses in the yard
*The inside of the barn
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Tack Room (Pam on the left)
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"Plough Inn" where we had our morning tea usually
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About to go on a trail ride!
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The farrier came one day to shoe some of the horses
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Alan taking a break in the corral
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So then after I got back on July 1st, I got home and took a shower, then set out to meet my friend Paddy! We wandered up to Rose Street, which is just above Princes St., and had a pint and chatted before wandering about Edinburgh. I showed him around the city, and rattled off a few random facts I knew about buildings and so on. I'm sure I was a horrible tour guide, but hopefully not too bad. :)
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Up at the Castle, something was going on that involved soldiers and a marching band.
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Next we stopped in Camera Obscura, and took in the amazing views of the city.
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In the lower levels of Camera Obscura, there were loads of visual exhibits, like these things, which we played with for awhile.
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A sound-activated thing. Paddy was doing a drum roll here.
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A kaleidoscope of sorts, complete with sneaky picture of Paddy and me.
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Our view of the Scots Monument from our spot in the Princes St. Gardens.
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It was SO warm this week in Edinburgh it was unbelievable, and so we wandered into a cinema and saw Transformers one day to enjoy the almost freezing temperature in the cinema. It was pretty good, but I wouldn't say it was better than the first. Other than that we pretty much wandered about, or sat in parks and watched people going by. It was all in all a very good week.

Tomorrow I start my week of poultry EMS, at a broiler chicken farm, which has approximately 40,000 chickens. I can't even imagine that many animals in one place, so it should be interesting. Truthfully I'm not really looking forward to it, because working with chickens really holds no relevance to my future career, but I suppose it's important to know where our food comes from.

After that, I have a week up at Mossburn Animal Centre to work with small mammals for a week, and then I have a week off (Ireland maybe?) and then my last week at Oatridge College's pig farm before my resit and my Japan Trip! I'm in the home stretch now, but it's still a very busy summer!

2 comments:

Dash said...

Well done on the exam passes!! Nice work. I'm sure you'll get AH this time around.
The bad news is that 3rd year isn't much easier. 4th year is though!

Good luck!

Mara said...

Horses - bbrrrrr. Scary. But that's just my opinion.