The post was written during my time at Vasen Gård, where I conducted the experiment for my Master’s thesis.
The past two months were very motivational for me, and it would probably take pages to explain the magnitude of the positive impact I got from being at the farm and working with animals and great people – but I’ll try to stick to the basics. Important changes and realizations regarding my interests in science, work prospects and life preferences took place while I was there, conducting my study on calf behavior.
When it comes to science, it was an incredible experience to actually conduct a proper scientific experiment for the first time. I was amazed at how much one has to and can learn for the experimental process. Every moment is useful: frustrating moments where you consider giving up, or when you think of improved sampling solutions midway through your data collection and wish you’d have thought of that in the beginning. Good moments where your results respond to your expectations, and great moments where you get new ideas for more experiments while sampling. Indescribable moments when the animals you collaborate with seem to enjoy your presence and your interactions with them.
I also came to realize that, if possible, science is what I wish to do in my life. I feel that I am made for the scientific process: tinkering my mind for ideas, reading through tons of literature to learn about all the interesting findings of other researchers, designing an experiment, going through a period of time dedicated to focused data collection, then sitting down and trying to make sense of all the data that was gathered. Perhaps discover something that could be of use to the world. Perhaps not, but then trying another route. Discussing with brilliant colleagues and getting even more new ideas. Yep, I’m up for that kind of job!
One very important aspect that I verified is that I want to work with farm animal welfare and behavior. Cattle, if possible, as I am in love with these animals. At Vasen, I was also given the opportunity to do some voluntary veterinary work, and deepen my knowledge on cattle medicine and behavior. It is a fact now that I want to work with animals, in the sense of, at least partly, actually do hands-on work with them. Thus, being at the farm and doing this experiment helped me at least set some broad limits to what I’d like to research and/or work with after completing the Master’s program. It is a sort of relief knowing where and what to focus on when this critical time arrives.
Aside from figuring out work and science-related questions that I had in mind, I also established that a) working with animals makes me feel balanced and happy, b) working with different farms is a very rewarding experience, both in matters of job satisfaction and of learning and c) living in a small town near nature is definitely better for me, compared to a city. I also realized that being happy with what I do in life has a very positive impact on how I feel as a person and how I interact with the people closest to me. So, feeling good at work is apparently very important for my well-being.
Of course, during all of this thought-provoking, self-realizing period of time, I had some excellent support and collaboration with Vasen’s wonderful people, my supervisor, and my family and friends. So I want to make a proper mention of a rather long list of people who contributed to my advancing one step further towards my life goals:
- THANK YOU Vasen! Kjell and Ingrid, for having me at the farm, for treating me like family and for letting me learn through diagnosing your animals! Johanna, for being my connection to everything at the farm, a huge assistance to me when learning about cattle, a source of inspiration and a fantastic company! Thank you to all the incredible staff at Vasen for making me feel more than welcomed and assisting me every time I needed help: Armen, Benjamin, Berith & Per, Ceci 1 and Ceci 2, Johanna, Lawrence & Mia, Niklas, Nver, Viktor – and everyone else whose name I cannot recall because I am terrible at learning names (please do message me and let me know so I can add you to the list)! And thank you to veterinarian Susanne Lundin for discussing veterinary incidents at the farm with me and broadening my knowledge on a number of subjects!
- Thank you so very much to veterinarian Johanna Habbe for connecting me to Vasen, for supporting and inspiring me to be an even better veterinarian!
- A huge thank you to my supervisor, Matthias, for all his support, precious advice and guidance throughout this project! Also, for the excellent management during all the times I was stressed over the limit.
- My most loving thanks to my partner, Henrik, for supporting me and listening to my endless enthusiastic cattle talk every single day, for cheering for me, helping me move to and from the farm and for visiting me. The same loving thanks to my parents who have believed in me since day 1 and have done all in their power to help me achieve my dreams. Also, for constructing the awesome experimenting apparatus Matthias designed – thanks dad! 😀
- A very big thank you to all my classmates from the Master’s for helping me out in whatever way they could when I was looking for a farm, and for being supportive and kind at all times. Same goes for those outside the Master’s who have been there and listened to me or offered their encouragement and help! 🙂
- A very special thank you to my former workmate Marie for doing all she could to help me look for farms in Östergötland in the beginning of the project! This also goes to all of Fröstorp’s staff and veterinarian Ole Martin Hegrestad, who helped me learn a great deal about cattle and have always been helpful and encouraging. I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t spend one year rich in experiences at the farm. Special mention to Peter and Sławek, having been the closest to me together with Marie, assisting me through my road to understanding and handling cows.
Well, to sum up: Working with animals is fantastic. Doing science is incredibly rewarding. The best choice in my life so far was to become a veterinarian and do a Master’s in animal behavior. The people that surround me (more or less familiar) are responsible for a great deal of my happiness, and for making my work choices and efforts worth even more.
Ah, what an unbelievable two months that was. Now, on to the next phase of the adventure! 🙂