For those of you that don’t know I work for Utah State University, at the Sheep and Goat Research Facility (I don’t always like the goat part). I love it because my daily classes feel like the same subject different day (chemistry, math, english, math) but, the sheep barn is almost always something different. It was actually my inspiration for the blog. Which started as a joke… Shay my friend/co-worker and I spend our time trying to make work as interesting, funny, and overall outrageous as possible. One day this past fall we were joking about all the crazy things that happen at South Farm (like when all of the goats get out) when shay said we could write a book about it and I replied that we could just start a blog… a few months later here I am becoming a blogger.
This week we have had two Merino lambs born, sold two St. Croix rams, and we are preparing the barn for shearing. A few weeks ago we had to clean out a freezer full of 20+ year old blood samples. The variety that agriculture provides is half of the reason why I love it, there is always a problem that has to be solved. The 100 year old freezer for example (that’s an exaggeration its not 100 years old). We had to find a way to safely extract the samples. So we turned to the tool cabinet and tried just about everything from a hammer to fencing pliers. In the end the fencing pliers and a syringe of warm water won out. After a couple of hours of digging, squirting water, and picking though the ice shards we had extracted all the samples and moved them to their new home. I don’t recommend letting your sample freezer get to the point of ice block because it takes forever to get them out; on the plus side its a good sign that you need to convince your boss to buy a new freezer! (yay for new freezers)
As to what the samples are used for, well I’m not sure on the specifics but, I know that they are part of a genetic study. Utah State University is a Land-grant University which means it was founded for one- a place for students to come and learn about agriculture and two- to be a place for research on agriculture. The findings of the research are used to improve farming practices making them more profitable, efficient, and sustainable. The College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences is obviously not the only college at Utah State University but, its the only one I care about! (joke the others are kinda cool)
Back to my Ag. life (I went on a tangent sorry) working for Dave at the sheep barn is great, it keeps me on my toes and defiantly makes for some interesting stories. I enjoy educating people through my stories about where their food comes from and how we as agriculturists provide a safe, healthy, and bountiful food supply.
In addition to having interesting things to tell my friends I get the chance at having some hands on education myself. One of my favorite veterinarians and role models always tells me that I should never let my schooling get in the way of my education. (my mother almost never agrees with this statement) I know that many college students pay thousands of dollars each year for classes that they hardly get anything out of I don’t want to be that student. I have always felt that I have learned more about something through a hands on experience than I have by sitting in a lecture hall or lab. A professor can preach all day about dystocia and ways to remedy a birthing problem but, when it comes to actually putting the sleeve on, scrubbing up, and fixing the problem many students don’t have a clue of what they are doing. I never have to worry about that because I have had plenty of practice with palpating ewes and cows which led to learning how to correct the problem and assist with the birth. Most of my parturition (birthing) experience came before I started working for USU but, while working here I have had much more practice and learned a few new tricks (thanks Dr. Stott).
Essentially what I’m getting at here is that if you are given the chance to go do something awesome, even if your definition of awesome is different than anybody else’s, you should get off the couch or out of the lecture and go do it. (I’m not saying never go to work or class again) Maybe you like being boring and safe (thats a lie your just scared) but it will be good for you. I love not having a dull day, even when I complain in the moment, when I look back or have a chance to sit down and relax I realize just how interesting and fun college experience has been.