This week was my last at the Unity College Heritage Livestock Barn; and it has been quite an adventure! Looking back it was everything I wanted it to be and I feel so fulfilled knowing how much experience this position has offered me. This whole adventure began for me at the end of last semester, I applied for the position interviewed and was accepted! I filled out my college internship agreement; part of which was outlining learning objectives that I hoped to accomplish. I had no idea what to expect other than the job description I had been sent but I took some time and tried to pair what I thought was achievable with what I aspired for; here is what I came up with so many months ago...
1. Further develop my public speaking skills to a standard useful in future career settings
2. Learn to incubate and hatch chickens for industry needs
3. Expand knowledge of and comfort levels with domestic breeds
4. Better understand the daily upkeep and operation of a farm
5. Expand knowledge of animal health recording skills
I can safely say that all of my personal objectives were fully met.
Almost every week a tour came to visit the barn we had all age groups coming to check out our furry residents and I got many opportunities to hone my interpretive skills. I quickly learned the fasted way to get someone's attention was to offer them a look at our baby bunnies; and many of our visitors were impressed that Lars our youngest pig will come running when his name is called.
We collected eggs early in our internship and set up an incubator in the back office that required daily maintenance for humidity and temperature. Every so often we candled the eggs using a special light box in a darkened room to watch how the embryos were developing. Then I got word on my day off that the eggs were beginning to hatch, so of course like any proud mom I raced down to the barn to check in on them. I got to see the first few peeping out and the next morning a few had hatched. We had a great hatch and survival outcome and we were really happy that all of our hard work paid off.
Because the livestock require so much hands on care I got to get a bunch of experience from day one working with each and every animal at the barn. From grooming, to hoof care, ear tagging to castrations I got to get down and dirty with what it takes to keep the animals happy and healthy. If you ever need a hand flipping a sheep or wrangling a goat; I am definitely down to help! The pigs were their own challenge they can be big and loud and a bit rude at times but I think by far they are the sweetest animals at the barn; I found that if you are working anywhere near them they will beg you for ear scratches and belly rubs and reward you with happy snorts the whole time.
I found that barn work like most animal care jobs is not a 9-5 job its being ready for anything at anytime because event though there is a schedule of operations the animals rarely feel the need to stick with it so working at the barn means being flexible and up for a challenge every now and then. Also like most animal care jobs what you remember is the lovely snorts of the pigs but the majority of the work is actually wheelbarrows of manure all day everyday and constant cleaning to keep the living quarters safe and sanitary. For those of us who love the animals its definitely worth it :)
This internship was everything I could have hoped a college internship to be I loved waking up early every morning and heading down to unlock the barn, I loved saying good morning to all the waking animals, I loved moving them out to pasture each day even when they seemed to want to take their time getting there, I loved problem solving, I loved cleaning, I loved the bond that was built with each animal at the barn and the bonds that were built with my coworkers. I loved being able to do something good everyday and go home feeling tired but fulfilled.
So if you are looking for an internship this is one of the best!