I had arranged a visit to a dairy herd, in the pretty village of Markington, to check on some cows. I had not been to the farm before, but I knew how to get to the village, as I played cricket there many years ago. As I recall, it was a successful game. Bagby Cricket Club, for whom I played, was a force to be reckoned with back then. Fast bowlers, agile fielders, tenacious batsmen and finger spinners who could bowl all day made the small club a tough team to beat.
I set off in good time, accompanied by enthusiastic vet-student-to-be Rosie, the daughter of a local farmer. It is good to get students out on visits, although in these health and safety conscious times, it doesn’t happen as often as it should, making it tough for the youngsters. Rosie and I also needed to discuss her university choices. She had three offers from vet schools and I wanted to talk them over with her.
However, before we got to the farm, and even before Rosie and I got onto the topic of vet schools and their respective merits, there was a phone call from the practice, “Could you go to see Mr Shipton, Julian – he has a sheep to lamb and its head is back?” Luckily for me, Mr Shipton’s farm was in Burton Leonard, which, with only a minor diversion, was on my way.
The elderly farmer waved my Mitsubishi into the one dry place on the farm, before showing me to his sheep.
“Have you some water, please?” I asked, which is always one of my first questions when I arrive to lamb a ewe.
“Aye, over they’er,” he gestured towards a metal water trough. My heart sank. It was hardly a warm and clean water supply, but it was passable with a good squirt of antiseptic in the bucket.
Rosie held the ewe for me, as I felt inside and manipulated the head into position so I could deliver, first one, then two slimy, meconium-stained lambs. They were fit and well and soon making lamb noises, and we were on our way to the next village. But there was another call from the practice.
“Can you give Mr Jones a call please. He has a horse with colic and it’s down in the field”. Phone reception problems meant the call had to wait until I had finished the cows, but they were quickly examined and injected, and I found some signal to make contact with the owner of my next patient.
“You’re in Collingham?” That was miles away, with Harrogate and its busy Saturday morning traffic roads, stubbornly standing in my way. At least Rosie and I would be able to cover all aspects of choosing the best vet school!
“Yes, that’s right. He’s down in the field and not moving. I’m up the lane and right at the top of the hill. Do you know it?” I knew the village but not the yard, but Rosie was frantically nodding her head, to confirm that she could direct me. “My best friend lives up there” she said. Thank goodness I’d taken her along.
“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” I reassured the worried owner.
The final visit of the morning took me to Aldborough, just outside Boroughbridge, to see a heifer with a grapefruit-sized lump under her jaw. It concluded a lovely morning tour of some of the prettiest villages in Yorkshire.
Julian stars in a new series of The Yorkshire Vet which continues this Tuesday, May 8 at 8pm on Channel 5.