We spent an interesting day helping our neighbors sort cattle for a vet inspection. They've had these animals for months since purchasing them out of state, but the paperwork just never suited our county protocol, so today they would each receive an ear exam. I don't know if you've ever tried to get a cow to let you look inside her ears, but I bet you can guess the typical response. And this inspection required a REALLY close look...tiny tattoos to prove that they had received the proper vaccinations. Also involved was matching 9-digit number -and-letter metal ear I.D. tags with existing records. Now the good part! The facilities! The holding pen has been holding weanling calves for a while... and we got 23" of rain in the last two weeks... so every creature was coated with, uh, mud. And instead of a professional (and safe) squeeze chute, we used a crowding alley packed with 5 to 8 animals at a time. The cows were free to swing their heads or hide them underneath the mass of beef. All this to get to the reason for this post. Our vet Megan is a young, attractive woman who always appears to have just come from her college class. She took a slow look at our first batch of manure-crusted, snot-slinging, wild-eyed patients, the rickety enclosure, and stated her doubts that this was going to be worth the ranchers cost of her time. Then she climbed on the pipe jail wall and proceeded to deftly avoid concussion and broken bones while wrestling with her checklist and very reluctant participants. When she finished this first group she seemed more surprised than hopeful, but we re-loaded the pen and she gamely returned to her perch. (About that perch...when a cow took offense and moved away from her prying hands, the whole contraption moved like an accordion, threatening to drop Megan among muddy, churning and nervous animals in a pen with no excess room.) As the afternoon wore on, our chic vet could be glimpsed occasionally grinning! At the end of the project everyone was cold and covered with crust and congratulating ourselves to have cheated injury again when I told Megan that we figured this had to be a new low in her career. She surprised us by stating that (despite the discomfort,danger, and downright ridiculousness of the job, )she actually preferred this afternoon to many things in a normal day! THIS IS HOW YOU KNOW YOU ARE IN THE BEST JOB FOR YOU!