Monday, March 26, 2012


Pavlov rang a bell and then fed his dogs.  He did this enough that the ringing of a bell caused the dogs to begin salivating, even if there was no food.  It's what's known as a conditioned response.

My boss went to a conference last week and left me in charge of the practice.  The whole practice.  The constant phone calls, the questions, the scheduling, the emergencies.... the whole nine yards.  It is the second time this has happened in about a 6 week period. 

Last week, every time I attempted to eat, the phone rang.  Tonight at 5pm when for the first time in 176 hours I was completely off the clock and ultimately free, I walked into my kitchen and realized that I wasn't at all hungry, and haven't been actually hungry in days.  I have eaten but.... eh.

Apparently my brain has started associating the presence of food with the ringing of the phone. When the phone rings my heart rate sky-rockets, my stomach clenches, and I swear I can actually feel the rush of adrenaline through my veins. The phone in my life rings so often that the sight, smell, or idea of food fills me with anxiety, so my brain has just decided to not want food anymore.

I heal the sick animals, maintain the healthy, and provide support to their owners, but at the end of the day I'm just one of Pavlov's dogs... in reverse.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Many people consider a foodie to be someone who enjoys fine cuisine. You know, the kind of people who don't eat dinner until 9pm, expect the meal to have at least four courses, and want a specific wine to go with each dish.

In the circle I travel in, a foodie means something completely different.  Instead of being someone who enjoys fine dining it is used to refer to a person who would like to practice medicine on animals that make (or are made into) food.

Tonight I decided that there is a third definition for the term foodie.  For me, a foodie has become the teeny, tiny amount of sustenance that I manage to consume at one time.  Because I don't really get to eat "food," I get bits and piece.  Little foodies.

Breakfast (a meal I eat grudgingly because I don't particularly like food early in the day) is consumed as I'm running out the door.  Lunch, which I have to eat while driving between appointments (and so is always something blah like a boring sandwich that won't fall apart as I hold it and eat one handed) is almost invariably interrupted by another call "on the way" so that instead of having 20 minutes to eat, I have like... 4.  And by the time I'm back in the truck my body has given up hope of food and I'm not longer hungry.

Dinner I do get to eat the days I'm not on call.  Unless I get sent on a 5pm call an hour away from home that takes at least an hour to do, resulting in an 8pm quit time.  If I were a foodie in the first sense of the word that would be perfect, but alas, I am not a first type foodie and I'm sure as hell not cooking for one after 8pm.  Days that I am on call are just hit or miss.  I don't try to make an actual meal, just consume enough calories to keep going.  Of course that isn't fool proof either, usually because horse people are freaking nuts.

So it's almost 11pm. Today I managed to consume an English muffin, half of a sandwich, 2 bottles of Gatorade, and 8 strawberries.  I shudder to think what would happen if I didn't have this job and was able to maintain a balanced diet with regular meals.  I would probably weigh a ton.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Farming 101

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a farmer.  I can't tell you how to properly fertilizer your fields or what you should spray to kill thistles.  I couldn't fix a piece of machinery if my life depended on it and I have absolutely no desire to learn.  That being said, I feel as though I know more than a little about animal handling facilities.  Not only because I'm a vet, but because I grew up working with farm animals.  So to start off my Farming 101 course, here are a few definitions.

Hinge: Gates hang on them so that they may swing freely, in one or both directions.  A secondary use is for bruising arms, shoulders, knees, and shins. 

Gate:  Used to separate groups of animals. They can also be used to keep animals in a particular area, or out of an area.  Like your snooty neighbor's yard.  A third use is to allow people and vehicles to easily get in and out of particular areas without climbing over the fence.  Note: If not on hinges, a gate is simply a panel and should be considered immobile.

Fence: Stationary structure to contain animals.  May be present outside as a property boundary or indoors to make small areas (aka pens or stalls). Should be composed of sturdy materials (wood, not plastic) and attached firmly to both the ground and the other sections of fence.  Note: gates resting on the ground and functioning as panels can be placed as if they are fence but will not work successful if challenged by anything stronger than a ground mole.  All fences should, at some physical point, possess a gate (on hinges.)

Barn:  Large structure for containing animals, feed, and/or machinery.  Consists of walls, a roof, door(s) or gates (on hinges), and a floor.  Interior structures include, but are not limited too: sturdy stalls or pens (with gates [on hinges]), overhead lights (with bulbs), and at least one electrical outlet.  Configuration of these components is at the owner's discretion.

Concrete: A nice flooring alternative to M.U.D.  (manure, urine, and a little bit of dirt.) Can be scraped down, hosed out, and generally kept clean.  Not to mention it is solid and thus the animals (and humans) won't sink in to their knees making movement much easier.  This substance should be used both inside the barn and around the outside of the barn (aka the barn yard) where animals will be shuffled back and forth between sections of fence.

Roof: Part of the barn used to keep rain and snow off things (animals, veterinarians, feed materials, ect) inside the barn.  Anytime a hole appears in this structure, it should be properly repaired in a timely manner.

Squeeze chute: Metal structure essential for doing anything to a cow.  These are available for purchase fully functional and are worth the money.  Attempting to create on of these by yourself out of scrape wood will result in incorrect proportions, non-functional gates (aka panels or fence), and the inability to accomplish even the simplest task in a timely manner.

That is our lesson for today ladies and gentleman.  Next time we will cover basic signs of disease and distress, when to call the vet, and why you should not get your medical advise exclusively from the feed truck driver.