Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What Do You Do When Your Ability Is Questioned?

I have quite a few blog posts I want to get done and sent out into the world, everything from touching on the South Dakota tragedy, a book review, information about pesticides from the perspective of a research scientist, to soybean harvest pictures, but as usual, that’s not what today’s post is about.

I’ve had an interesting couple of days. I won’t tell the story in its entirety, just sort of skim over the facts.

To make a long story short, I am currently taking care of sows and piglets. Once we wean the piglets they are going to go on a metabolism and preference trial for 2012 corn that has been infected with mycotoxins to see how well the pigs actually handle growth on feed such as this. Mycotoxins in feed are a huge concern for livestock producers because the feed often makes the animals sick, causes abortions, or simply slows their growth. Mycotoxins are products of fungi and most commonly infect crops in times of stress (drought, too much water, etc etc), as well as through storage practices that increase moldy feed (it’s a topic that will require a whole other post, let’s just leave it at this stuff can be a very serious issue!)This is one of several similar studies that we have performed recently. Surprisingly a recent wean to market trial showed the pigs adapting and growing well even when on the contaminated feed, so we are trying to see if that appears again in these nursery pigs.

But anyway, back to my story! Let’s suffice it to say that this little adventure so far has been full of downs. And the most recent down involved me handling a situation in the way I thought best, but has since turned out to be the exact opposite of what I was expected to do.

I wholeheartedly believe I handled the situation correctly…but you know what they say, the correct decisions aren’t always the easiest.

And I think I will be paying for this one until I graduate.

Especially since I just found out my competency in caring for pigs has been questioned. Not by people who have actually worked with me while working with animals, but by someone else whom I thought would have more faith in me.  (Keep in mind Dave let me run UW's Pig Barn for years so I can't be too awful...!)

I have prided myself on common sense and initiative. Over the years I have learned to get jobs done in unique ways…especially since, let’s face it, I don’t have the physical mass to use brute strength most of the time.

This is an 850 pound boar...he's a sweetheart but brute strength doesn't exactly work!

But this common sense and initiative has recently put me opposite where I am “supposed to be” or how I am “supposed to do things”.

The way I have learned many things was what a friend likes to call taking the test first AND then learning the lesson. It’s a common learning expectation when working with older farmers. They expect you to perform a task and if it doesn’t work out the way it’s supposed to, then you find out how it was supposed to work OR you try a different method.

In farming (and life) being able to think on your feet is a useful skill to have. Knowing when to ask for help is another.

I know I have what it takes to survive this world.

Now I just have to survive until graduation.

I guess I will simply continue to be thankful that my current life situation is a lot better than it could be. Now I just have to keep my head down. And my chin up. Although that might be a little awkward ;) 

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