Visiting the office of veterinarian affairs

He may look as sweet as molasses … but there’s a telltale glint in his jolly blue eyes. You can see it, can’t you? It’s pure, devilish delight and orneriness. Would you believe me if I said 10 minutes ago I caught him wrapping the upstairs railing in toilet paper? I did and he was, and it won’t happen again. At least it better not!

The boy-oh-boy did manage to contain his merry-making for a couple of hours this morning. We went to visit Dr. Trish — our veterinarian, cousin and speaker extraordinaire. She was hosting a group of homeschoolers at her office, and invited us to join the group. We learned all sorts of interesting things!

Kids looking at horse teeth with veterinarian

Bone-ified intrigue. Everyone was impressed by the horse skull and the size of its chompers. Did you know a horse’s teeth never stop growing? They should be floated — think very large nail file — every so often to keep the horse happy and healthy. Mares usually have 40 teeth and male horses, 42. You can tell this skull came from a male because it has canine teeth (which mares do not have). Dr. Trish told the kids wild stallions use their canine teeth in battle to slash and bite their opponents. (The ridiculous lengths men will go to when there’s a mare in the mix! ) Also, please note: those nice folks weren’t blinded by my light. We just met today and I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate showing up on that creepy, camera-totin’ crazy woman’s  blog.

Kids with alpaca

This is Cathy. She works with Dr. Trish and raises alpacas. She brought one of her favorites to the office to meet the kids today. It’s name? Ice Queen Anticipation. They call her Tissy for short.

And this is Cathy’s husband. He showed the kids that alpacas don’t have top front teeth, just a fleshy palate. They do their chewing in the back. Palate in the front, party in the back!  I apologize. It’s been a strange afternoon and I may or may not have taken too much cold medicine that leads me to believe I’m funny.

Veterinarian and girl listening to sheep heartbeat

Lookin’ good … or not?

What does a veterinarian look for when determining if an animal is sick? Eyes, gums and condition of its coat to start. Is it peppy or lethargic? They also listen to the animal’s heartbeat and take its temperature. Incidentally, 102 degrees is normal for sheep.

The little lamb in the photo above follows Dr. Trish around like a shadow.

Veterinary assistant testing fecal samples

Mad scientist?

Can you guess what we were talking about when I took this photo? Fecal samples. Bobbi showed the kids how they take samples and search for parasite eggs. Oh, sure, it might sound like one of Mike Rowe’s dirty jobs, but hey — someone has to do it. And it was really quite interesting. For instance, have you ever wondered why test results take awhile? These fecal samples are refrigerated for 24 hours. There’s a process, you see, that helps separate the eggs from the rest of the matter and liquid. The samples also spend seven minutes in a centrifuge — just one of the steps to ensure an accurate egg count in each sample. Eventually it’s time to take a look.

Boy looking in microscope

The kids had the opportunity to examine the parasite eggs under a microscope. It was exciting for them … perhaps not so much for the host horse and its owner!

Fecal samples, stethoscopes, equine dentistry and camelids. Just another ordinary day for Dr. Trish and her staff, but an intriguing few hours for all the little learners. Perfect timing, too. We’re about to dive into the Complete Book of the Microscope.

Wonder if I can persuade the kids to collect some samples?


Go exploring! You may enjoy these previous posts.


  • comment-avatar
    Melissa Wells February 5, 2013 (9:14 pm)

    Dr. Trish so helpful! Have utilized her phone consultation in the past at odd hours!!! Even offered to drive here to my home during a blizzard. Nice to have ‘farm” vets! Very few in the area! That first photo looks to me like the determined look of a child putting together a plan to spring on mom to get an alpaca!!!! Your children are more than welcome to come do fecals on my goats anytime. I have wanted to try this myself-have just not sprung for the microscope yet!!

    • comment-avatar
      Jennifer February 12, 2013 (10:57 pm)

      LOL! I will tell them about the goats. I’m sure they’ll want to come right over! 😉 And we ARE NOT getting alpacas.

  • comment-avatar
    Weekend Cowgirl February 7, 2013 (12:39 pm)

    What a great thing for the vet to do! Sounds like the kids had a great time. I want to tell my vet about this!!!!!