“Farming – Not for the faint of heart!”

Externship Project

This was a phrase said by one of the food animal vets at the end of one of our herd health visits. Some background: we had done some pregnancy checks, checked fresh (recently calved) cows for any signs of infection, and looked at a sick cow that the farmer had pointed out to us. When we do our checks, the farmer walks with his clip board and tells us which cows to check and how far along they should be in their pregnancy. The farmer is the most knowledgeable about the cows in their herd, due to diligent observation and the deep understanding that comes from caring for cows every day for many years. Not only do they participate in these herd visits with us, they manage nutrition, calvings and complications, treatment of sick animals, and many breed their own cows too. All of this is in addition to regular farm maintenance, and assuring the quality of the meat and milk they produce for us Canadians.

View of rural Ontario from truck windowBut it doesn’t stop there! This time of year is especially busy because the majority of farmers also plant crops too. The first week of my externship was beautiful and sunny, which was perfect to dry up the land after the week of rain before. My second week was still sunny, the land was dry enough and so it was prime time for planting! Thanks to some long days of work, most of the farmers had everything in the ground before the rain we had at the end of my third week, so now it’s time to just let it grow!

With eyes to the skies, many things are out of human control. Crop farming can be a gamble, which is something that makes us vets uncomfortable! We like to control things – we do our physical exams, we run our diagnostic tests, and use this information to pick the right therapies to treat our patients. We use practiced skills and knowledge to ensure the best outcome. Thinking about investing so much work in something that is mostly out of our control is scary! And therefore, “farming – not for the faint of heart!” Every day I am amazed with the breadth of knowledge that farmers have; I learn something new each day!

For the producer’s perspective, check out this post  from local Guelph farmer and ag-vocate Farmer Tim!

I’ve also included a picture of the beautiful rural views I get everyday while driving in the truck… things are really starting to grow now!