Five things I’ve learned while working on a farm

1.      Farm work is HARD.

I don’t know how farmers manage. After just a week of daily farm work, I was completely exhausted. Now, after about three weeks, I’ve gotten a bit more used to the routines, but I still have to commend all farmers out there for their daily grind. I hope you’re all getting a well-deserved summer holiday, because if there’s anyone who deserves it, it’s you.

2.      Improvisation is key!

With calves running off, fences breaking, machines breaking down and a bunch of other unforeseen events being a weekly occurrence, you get pretty used to thinking on your feet. While working here at the farm I’ve had to channel my inner MacGyver like never before, figuring out makeshift solutions and temporary fixes to whatever problem arose. 

 

3.      Cows are a lot cuddlier than you’d think.

When cleaning out the muck in the calves’ part of the barn it’s almost impossible to move around because all they want to do is suck on your hands and elbows. If that’s not your idea of cozy (which I agree with wholeheartedly) they also want nothing more than being pet and scratched and follow you around like a little puppy. The milking cows and even the oxen would also literally bend over backward sometimes just to get one more scratch, (or another serving of compound feed pellets).

 

4.      …But they’re also more mischievous

If I have to run after a rogue calf one more time, I swear to God… And it’s not only that, they try to head-butt you whenever you turn your back on them! It’s like they think my trying to clean up their mess is an invitation to join Fight Club or something!

 

5.      One of the cornerstones of learning is having a good teacher.

This I knew before coming to work at the farm, but the importance of this lesson has been emphasized while staying here. Having someone push you out of your comfort zone, and trusting you with difficult things like administering medication, as well as all their animals, is something that makes you rise to the occasion. I’ve surprised myself and felt so proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish and learn (and I’ve been incredibly proud of my friend as well. She has shined through this entire experience, and I’ve seen a side of her that I truly admire.) The responsibilities that come with farm work is not something to shrug off as mundane or routine. The number of figurative hats you have to wear as a farmer, where you act as a carpenter, nutritionist, landscaper, vet tech, etc., means you have to step into unfamiliar territory often. This is something I’m going to take with me as a veterinarian in the future and try to be as open and courageous as possible when faced with new challenges.