Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Farm Vet Family is Growing

We will again apologize for the lack of blogging. It might be sporadic for a few more months with all of the changes in our lives. We hope to smooth it out and be back to more of a regular routine soon!
As you may have read previously the farm vet family is growing....and we have some recent additions to share with you. Meet our two cats, Hazel and Pineapple, and our three cows (we have not chosen names for them as of yet). For those that may be wondering, "baby farm vet" has not arrived yet but it should be soon in the next few weeks!

The cats were inherited and the cows we bought to help keep our pasture tidy. Two are heifers and we hope to breed them to be able to have some offspring and one is a steer that we hope to harvest. I have to admit I am excited about the thought of not having to purchase beef for cooking for a while but if the farm vet keeps up his friendly interactions and giving of grain treats, the steer might stick around for longer than we think. ;-)

And as you can see the farm vet has been busy. 

We wish everyone a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend! It is definitely LABOR day weekend for the farm vet - helping a dairy farmer with a cow that had a prolapsed uterus at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. Cheers!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Magnet for Sick Animals

The farm vet told me, "It is really weird - it is like I am a magnet for sick or dying animals. They always seem to find me!" I have been seeing the truth in that more and more over the years with him.
Just last Sunday we were going to a friend's house and we stopped at the driveway because I saw a young sheep laying right outside it's pen across the street, panting in the hot sun. We decided we would try to put it away as it looked like it had been in the sun for a while.

As we approached the sheep, it didn't move, strangely. As we got closer we realized it was bleeding near it's legs. The farm vet tried to pick it up and realized one of it's legs was broken. He said, "This is really not good, it's been hit by a car. The whole back end isn't working." The neighbors were not home so we had our friend call them and tell them what we found. The poor sheep had gotten out, been hit by a car and no one had seen it.

Unfortunately, we were not in the the farm vet's vet truck so he did not have any of his veterinary supplies on him. The neighbor said they would be home right away to take care of it. The neighbor has a a few farm animals around, and grew up on a farm so I had faith he would do what needed to be done. When he returned we left the sheep with him we walked over to our friends house. A few minutes later I heard the shot ring out that put the sheep out of it's misery. I was instantly relieved that the neighbor had the sense to do what he had to do to put the suffering sheep down.

It is never fun to see a suffering animal but it was fate that we happened to be driving by on that quiet road to find that sheep. Like the farm vet said, he's a magnet.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cattle Handling

I attended a workshop last week focused on proper ways of handling cattle, euthanizing cattle and how to ensure these practices are being carried out on your farm. Many cattle ranchers and dairy farmers attended the workshop. I found this comforting knowing that they are willing to continue their education even though most of them have been handling cattle their whole lives! It's good to have the attitude that, "there's always room for improvement."

There were some videos shown that were taken by undercover animal rights activists. Animals were being abused and mistreated in these videos. The reactions I saw in the crowd consisted mostly of anger and confusion. One producer raised his hand and asked, "How can someone sit there and video this abuse and watch it go on without putting a stop to it?" The same question went through my head and no one has an explanation for that.

Here are some photos of the workshop, a day well spent.
 Dr. Kurt Vogel from University of Wisconsin, River Falls led the workshop.

 Live cattle handling demonstration.

Local farmers sat on a panel to discuss handling policies on their ranches.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who's Expecting?

We have to apologize for the recent disappearance! The last couple months have been packed with quite a few changes and surprises for us. The farm vet has been keeping up with his ultrasounding though - here are some photos.
9 weeks

You may have guessed it, this is not the normal ultrasound the farm vet performs. It's "baby farm vet!" We are thrilled to announce a new addition to the farm vet family is expected in September. We don't plan to find out the sex of the baby so we may not get many more at-home ultrasounds in order to keep it a surprise. These photos were taken at nine weeks and I am now 14 weeks.
Yes, the cow to human pregnancy comparisons have begun but I must admit I don't mind as I've grown up around bovines my whole life! It was quite funny when the farm vet pointed out, "There are the back legs!" and he didn't catch how he misspoke until someone said, "How many legs does it have?" =)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Looks Can Be Deceiving

A client called the farm vet the other day to come take a look at his bull. It was having some skin problems that were persistent and the owner was concerned. On the trip out to the ranch, the owner called the farm vet again and said he would not be able to meet him there but the bull is in the corral close to the barn so he would be easy to find. He said if you walk up to the bull and start rubbing his back he turns into a big baby.

The farm vet is not one to get easily unnerved by any sort of bovine but when he got out of his truck and saw the big bull standing there waiting for him, he hoped this was not going to be his last time examining an animal! He climbed into the corral to face the bull eye to eye. The bull stared him down and made a few grunting noises as if to say, "Who are you and why are you in my corral?"

"Well, I have to do what I am here for." said the farm vet to himself as he walked closer to the 2,000 pound animal. The bull did not move and when the farm vet reached over to rub him on his back, he did exactly as the owner said. The bull started grunting happily and leaning into the farm vet as if he were a pet dog. Not only did this relax the bull but it relaxed the farm vet as well! He was able to examine the skin problems and take some samples without the bull so much as flinching. Since then, he has gone back to visit another time and I think the bull actually looked forward to getting his back rub from the farm vet. Here are some photos of the "fierce" animal!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Travelers From Afar Come To See California Dairies

 This week the well renowned World Ag Expo took place in Tulare, California. Hundreds of thousands of people descend on the small, rural farming town of Tulare to share ideas on agriculture, see new products and technologies, and enjoy three days of everything farm-related. This is the largest agricultural show in the world and people travel from all over to attend. It is quite a sight to see!

This year, the farm vet and I had the opportunity to show large California dairies to two groups of UK dairy farmers and veterinarians. These groups of progressive farmers traveled half-way across the world to visit the show and learn about the different styles of dairy management here. It was fantastic discussing the issues dairy farmers face from one country to another. Here are some photos from the tours we hosted.

 We took them to my family's farm, which has been in the family for four generations. We now milk 3,000 cows and are proud of it. I was flattered by the nice comments and genuine interest the UK farmers took in our operation. Every day we are working with a food product for human consumption. Our dairy farm has evolved over the past 98 years to keep up with providing a safe food product - just like restaurants and hospitals don't look like they did 100 years ago - neither does our dairy farm.

One of the gentlemen in the group is aiding in trying to get a large dairy operation built in northern England, called Nocton Dairies. They are facing quite a bit of opposition which is extremely disappointing to hear. Big is not always bad. There are good dairy operators and bad dairy operators no matter what size or shape it may be. It is just like anything else in this world: doctors, restaurants, hotels, grocery stores. Just because something is big does not mean it is bad. The farm vet has clients of all sizes and not one size is "better" than another. There is a place in this world for each style of management and I fail to comprehend why some people try to put a stop to something they do not understand. I wish the Nocton Dairies luck and look forward to hearing the outcome of the project.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Little Travel Time

We are lucky to have family in another country to be able to spend our vacation visiting them and enjoying a different culture. We recently made a trip to visit the farm vet's immediate family in England. While there, we went to Italy to visit some of my distant cousins. In college, I studied for nine months in Italy and keep in touch with our relatives. I am very proud of being American but also have a deep fondness for the Italian culture. It was wonderful to finally introduce the farm vet to my cousins and show him around the beautiful Piemonte region of Italy. The food and wine is always amazing and never gets old! Each morning we had fresh cheeses and meats with a cappuccino for breakfast. The Italian's appreciation for food is wonderful to experience. Here are some fun photos of the trip.
This is the view from our hotel in a sleepy little village.
 Piemonte, Italia
 Cioccolata Calda (hot chocolate) became one of the farm vet's favorite things to warm him up!
 Bello, Torino!
 Saffron infused pear with gorgonzola icecream and walnuts was a whole new experience, which we loved.
 Yes, we stopped in at an Italian dairy near the village we stayed in. We could not find the owner but showed ourselves around and took a few photos. Their lanes are scraped automatically to push the manure out.
 You are probably starting to think we are weird for doing this but it was only for a few minutes and it's fun to see the similarities and differences in dairy operations around the world.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hard Decisions, Hard to Stomach

The farm vet was on call for the weekend of new year's eve and the first of the year. Just before that weekend was finished, he got a call from one of his client's to come out right away. They needed help with a cow that was in labor and it could not wait.

When the farm vet arrived, the owner was there with the cow. He was using his truck headlights to help brighten the dim area where the cow was trying to have her calf. The farm vet examined the cow and felt for the calf and instantly knew this was not going to be one of those happy endings. The calf was very large and in a position in which it could not have been delivered on it's own. He felt further and came to the realization that the calf was already dead.

This is when the veterinarian has to have the presence of mind to do what is best to save the cow. The calf inside her is no longer the main objective and it is solely to keep the cow alive and healthy. The procedure for doing this means dissecting the calf while it is in the uterus to get it out as quickly and easily so as to reduce the stress on the mother.

 I know this is hard to stomach but this is where the veterinarian and owner have to make this decision for the animal that still has a shot at life. It is not easy and it is not enjoyable but it has to be done. This procedure is called a fetotomy. The size of the cow's uterus allows this procedure to be done without injuring the mother. A cesarean section on a stressed, tired mother with a dead fetus, runs a high risk of post-operative infection and complications. Her chances of recovery are consequently lessened.

These are things that are learned with real life experience and practice, not in a text book. As we have said before, the job is not glamorous and not always rewarding. James Herriot wrote it best when he wrote, "It's a long tale of little triumphs and disasters and you've got to really like it to stick it."

 The Drost Project has a nice section under 'obstetrics' and then 'fetotomy' where you can see the equipment we use and how.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It's Raining, It's Pouring, in California

You have probably seen on the news how California is getting copious amounts of rain recently! I hate to complain because we need natural rainfall for everyone - the general public, agriculture, crops, nature and wildlife. I just wish it wouldn't come down all at once. It is presenting quite the challenge for farmers and anyone with livestock and animals....and the farm vet. Some areas of the state have had six inches of rain in a couple days. I know that does not seem like much compared to some places in the world but when we are used to seeing a half an inch here and there, this can be a big problem!

Some counties have declared a state of emergency, residents have been moving out of homes because of flooding and newly planted crops are being washed away. The farm vet has been coming home soggy every day from being out with the cows. The farmers have been working night and day to pump water out of animal housing areas and keep things in order. Seeing how much this affects the farmers and animals, it is no wonder California is such a popular place for agriculture. A storm like this being out of the ordinary makes for a desirable climate for farmers and animals. Below are a few photos of some of the challenges the large amount of rain brings.

We hope you can stay dry and we wish everyone a prosperous 2011!