Greetings From BC

CN: Description of mild medical procedure and wound care, mention of needles.

So much has happened in the last month.

I made it to BC with remarkably little trouble. My birds came through ok, CJ was a darling quiet girl on the plane, and my stuff arrived just a few days after I did.  The move itself went remarkably smoothly. The guys who came to load up the truck were nice and very professional. They loaded everything up in under an hour. When the truck arrived here, everything was unloaded nice and quick too. All my stuff arrived in one piece and all of it arrived.

We spent most of my first week working hard on trying to reorganize the space to make room for me and my things. There is still a fair amount of work to be done, but it has been moving in a good direction and I have the space to do a lot of what I need to do.

Unfortunately about a week in, my Crohn’s decided to remind me of some of the other things it can do without warning, and I ended up with an abscess. I’m lucky that it was along the skin, though in an extremely tender area, so having it surgically drained meant they could just cut through the skin to open it up. I opted to get it done in the ER with just a local anaesthetic (which didn’t do all that much if I’m being honest xD) which meant I could go home right after. I was pretty out of it for the next week, between the healing and having to come into the hospital every other day in order for them to literally pack material into the open wound to control how it heals.

My first week of classes started, while I was still going to the surgery after care, which was interesting. Luckily for me, I healed really fast and so it really was only the one week of class where I was dealing with this.

Class so far has been interesting and really informative. Starting essentially mid-year means that there is a bit of a feeling of being the outsider. Most of my classmates were here last semester and so know each other pretty well, and are known by the professor as well. The classes are smaller than most of my high school classes, some with as little as twelve people altogether. My largest class has maybe twenty-five people.

Three out of four courses are taught by the same professor, an older gent who farms beef cattle and also does work as a firefighter. He’s a great lecturer giving a lot of information and pairing it with interesting anecdotes and personal experience.

My other professor is a woman who was if not the first, among the first animal nutritionists in the area. She knows all the farmers around here and has a ton of knowledge. Her lectures are packed with information but in a really interesting way.

My second week of class ended up completely cancelled due to snow. The whole Fraser Valley was buried under and the windchill reminded me of Ontario. My car decided to snap it’s power steering belt the first day of the storm, during a quick grocery trip to replenish our supplies. The combination of the weather and the lack of car kept me pretty cooped up, and it wasn’t long before I was really starting to feel a little cabin feverish. Finally decided to work on carving some hair sticks and that certainly helped.

Finally the weather cleared enough that I was able to get to the auto-parts store to get the replacement belts. I watched a few videos and installed them myself. The next day I drove an hour away to pick up my bag which had been left behind on a visit earlier in the month. Everything drove fine, until the next day when all of a sudden the belt fell off while at the Shoppers. I was able to reinstall it there in the dark parking lot, thanks to having had the foresight to pack the tools in the car just in case.

The next morning, the belt was off again, and kept falling off no matter how often I installed it. We called a more car knowledgeable friend over to take a look, and it seems some things got bent on my AC compressor which caused the pulley to be cocked at a strange angle which is why it keeps falling off. So… now I need to install a new compressor! FUN!! Such is life however, and luckily we have a friend nearby who can help with getting it done. Now if only the part didn’t cost as much as it did. Still it needs to get done and so done it shall be.

The big news this past week class wise, is that the milking cows that we are getting on loan for three weeks arrived, and so officially begin our milking duties. Our class barn has a milking parlor with a milking machine. We’ve been run through the procedure of how to properly clean, and set up the milker, how to gather the two cows, and so on.

Friday night was my first turn, and I had another two evening shifts on Saturday and Sunday. Of course, I ended up with the more difficult of the two cows as my first practical attempt. When I mean more difficult, I mean because her back two udders are so close together and cocked at an angle, that it’s hard not to have one teat cup try and scoop up both at once. She also has a tendency to occasionally kick at the machine. Most likely, she’s just a little nervous over being in a new place. Everyone here obviously cares a lot about animals so all of them are getting the best of care. We’re encouraged to come by to just observe them and get to know what their typical behaviour is like and just get comfortable around them.

It’s funny how often our classes stress that the most productive cow is a happy and comfortable cow. We are learning all about the anatomy of the udder, how digestion works including the anatomy, we are learning about different diseases that affect the animals and what causes them and how to prevent them.  We learn about how to optimize housing to make sure that the cow is able to lie down and chew her cud, to make sure their feet don’t hurt, and that they are able to socialize freely and without allowing for hierarchy to interfere with milking, feeding, or drinking.  And all this in just the first three weeks.

This week there is a major Agri Fair in the area, and we are going on some tours of local farms.

The last time I was in school, I had issues with staying awake in class but I have no such trouble this time. I’m finding myself pretty consistently engaged and interested in what we’re learning.

I’m still finding my balance and my routine so that I can get my school work done and still have time to work on writing, not to mention my art, spend time on my birds and my dog, not to mention my lovely partner lol. And of course, exploring beautiful BC.

Greetings From BC

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