Daily Archives: September 20, 2013

All In A Day’s Work

Vet School Cow, pencil sketch by Kerry McFall

Vet School Cow, pencil sketch by Kerry McFall

Some days at work lend themselves well to taking a lot of breaks – the server is down, the maintenance guys are hammering away outside your office door, a co-worker is a bit too enthusiastic about that crisp apple snack.  Yesterday was like that, so I took my journal and a pencil and wandered off for a walk.  It was one of those days that make Oregon the perfect autumn destination, sunny, breezy, no humidity.  I’ve been taking advantage of a bench outside of the vet school pastures lately, hoping for a chance to sketch the fascinating parade of creatures that show up there now and then.  One of the regulars is the Jersey Cow shown above, who was dining on dandelions right up near the fence.  She has what appears to be a round rubber plug in her side, which is both intriguing and repulsive – it looks like the air valve for a swimming pool toy…

I had hoped to color her in a bit when I got back to the office, but the server was back up so that never happened.  I did go online though and asked Google for images of “Vet school cows”.  Up came a photo of the very thing, from an article in a Missouri University student news page named, oddly enough, The Maneater:   “The cow had an operation called a fistula, in which a hole was cut in its side, leaving an opening to the stomach. Second year veterinary student Leslie Pope said fistulas are comparable to a piercing, where the body heals to allow the hole to exist without harming the cow.  “Cows have a really strong immune system.  She can still have babies and milk,” Pope said.  The reason for the operation is to research how cows digest different kinds of foods. By reaching into the cow and pulling out the digested material, researchers can see what is best for cows to eat. They can remove bacteria from the cow to give to sick cows to make them better.”  Well then.  I learn something new every day.