Updated: Jun 3
Hi! I'm Zoé Tierno and I have the amazing opportunity to be an intern here at Flint Hill Farm for the summer. While I will be working on various aspects of the farm including the dairy production process, my primary focus is working with all the farm animals and understanding all the steps and everything that goes into caring for them.
I'm from Philadelphia and am currently a rising junior Biochemistry major at Temple University. I am also on the pre-vet track and specifically plan on working as a farm vet in the future which is what sparked my interest in Flint Hill Farm.
While it's only my second day working on the farm I have already learned so much. Yesterday was spent primarily learning how to milk the cows and the goats both with the milking machine as well as by hand. Additionally, I learned how to measure a goats Famacha score to see whether the goats had parasites that were causing anaemia. Luckily all the goats seemed to be doing great! Today was quite an adventure as I learned how to trim goat hooves. As Miss Kathy can attest, it was a bit of a learning experience. To quote an accurate statement "goat hooves one, Zoé zero." However, after a few tries and some unruly goats, I finally started to get a better understanding of what I was doing and managed to do two goats on my own!
The first week on the farm is coming to a close but was still very eventful. On Wednesday I met the veterinarian, Lindsey, and saw her draw blood from cows through the Coccygeal vein. Additionally, I worked on a few more of the goat's feet and am slowly getting better at trimming their nails. Yesterday, there was a bit of chaos milking the goats but I learned the valuable lesson of closing gates and on the positive site I'm getting much better at goat wrangling. A volunteer, Rebecca, and I also took our two young calves for a lovely walk in order to get them used to walking with people. While initially they weren't very excited for it and were quite stubborn in moving, by the end they were walking side by side easily. I'm excited for all the new adventures and lessons to come next week!
Week two on the farm has already begun! Along with the daily milking and cleaning of the cows and goats, I'm learning much more about everything else that comes with taking care of the herd. On Monday I put out a salt mixture for the goats. This mixture has tons of important minerals that the goats need to be happy and healthy. Wild goats would normally travel large distances to find these minerals but since these are farm goats we provide it for them! Deficiencies of these minerals can affect milk production, growth, hair/coat health and reproductive health so its important to ensure that they have access to this salt at all times. Additionally, we began to de-horn some of our calves. It was a bit of a difficult process but basically required removing the existing small horn, cutting down the horn forming tissue underneath and then cauterising the wound to ensure the horn does not grow back. De-horning these calves ensure the our safety and the safety of the other cows for the future when they will become dairy cows. Lastly, yesterday I began to work with horse which I have very little experience with but I'm excited to learn more about. I learned about grooming horse which includes the use of 5 different brushes.
Week two on the farm is coming to a close which was full of more experience and learning. Yesterday I did more work on trimming goat hooves and I have significantly improved since my first go around. When a goat's hooves grow too long they begin to wrap around the sole of the hoof which can lead to issues such as hoof rot. Wild goats would normally wear down this overgrowth on rocky terrain but since these are farm goats we cut them down for them. To trim a goat's hoof you have to cut down the wall of the hoof down to the sole. We also cut down the tip of the toe and some of the cartilage that grows on the heel. Additionally, I worked with a horse and a goat who were having skin issues. They both had dry patches of skin which can cause itchyness and hair loss so I applied an iodine solution to these patches which has soothed the itchyness and is slowly showing an improve in hair growth. The iodine solution however does stain which is why one of our goats now has a few patches of lovely orange hair.