I once heard ‘Even a fool who remains silent is thought to be wise.’ Well, this may be so if no one ever finds out the truth. Wise and smart would not be the case for Amy and me when we toured Columbus, Ohio in our senior year of veterinary school.

I went to veterinary school to become a ‘large animal’ veterinarian. This actually translated into a ‘horse’ vet because I knew nothing about the dairy, beef,  pigs, sheep and goats, chickens and all the large animal industries. My fellow classmate, Amy, joined me in completing last year rotations. She and I became great friends as we survived senior year.

Amy and I accompanied the instructors who did farm calls. One day we visited a dairy We were real experts at just nodding our heads as if we understood everything being said and everything going on and not knowing that much.

We learned quickly though. The dairy cows spent most of their day out on pasture. When it was milking time, they would line up and walk into the ‘milk parlor’ – something akin to the living room we guessed. The milk parlor was a concrete floor with a large recessed area in the middle – something like a dugout in baseball. This is where the farmers stood – literally at ‘udder level’ and, as the cows came in, lined up, and began eating at large troughs at their particular stations in the parlor, they attached the milking apparatuses to each cow’s udders.

After giving many gallons of milk, that was collected into a ‘bulk tank,’ the cows were released back to the pasture. The next bunch of cows would repeat the process. The cows knew the routine. The milk collected in the ‘bulk tank’ was picked up and transported to dairies for processing-  so we all ‘got milk’ and butter and yogurt and cheese and other dairy products.

During the milking this particular day, Amy and I watched the process quietly in the ‘dugout.’ The farmer and our instructor were talking. Suddenly, everyone was quickly moving out and away from the cows except Amy and me. We just stood there, wondering where they were all going.

All of a sudden we were being splattered with the splashing of soft, pudding consistency, cow patty manure. It was hitting Amy and me in the face and getting all over our coveralls. What everyone else noticed – that she and I did not – was the cow gave advanced notice of the impending droppings. She lifted her tail. Apparently no one thought they needed to let us in on this little secret. We looked like the newbies we were. Everyone laughed as we tried our best to clean up.

Another day, we decided to ride with the zoo veterinarian. He was called to the reptile building. Amy and I didn’t care much for reptiles.  We stood behind the zoo vet motionless in the building as the handlers brought legless lizards and assorted other reptiles to the veterinarian for examination and care. We did not touch anything. All of a sudden we heard an alligator hiss. It sounded like it was right behind us! She jumped, I jumped, and everyone else started laughing, “A little nervous are ya?” they asked. Our cover was blown. We were petrified and we believed for that moment that gator was on our side of the wall it was actually behind. Amy and I just shrugged and called it a day. Newbies we were. We managed to complete all our farm and zoo calls.

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