I love this time of year – daffodils, blossom, green shoots of new life, lambs and longer days. The sun has more warmth in its rays and it is a happy time.
The programme encapsulates all the hope of spring and it has been fun to be involved since its inception.
During the first series, back in 2018, there was live veterinary action in abundance. As we got ready to film an interview in an airy barn made up like a film studio but with straw bales, telephone of the executive producer started to ring. The walkie talkie in his other hand was blaring too.
A ewe elsewhere on the farm had prolapsed her uterus. This is a life-threatening condition, and I was the only vet on site so it was obvious I needed to attend to the stricken animal.
“But the schedule is tight!” insisted one important telly person, determined to carry on regardless.
I objected vigorously, explaining that I could repair the problem within ten or fifteen minutes; and save a life. I’d be back to take my place on the perfectly arranged straw bales within moments. He would have to rearrange his schedule.
Luckily, the energised exec was with me on this one. He agreed that a life definitely needed to be saved, ahead of the schedule. I could see the realisation dawning that this was ‘live’ telly and all exciting action would be added interest and excitement for the viewers. And it wouldn’t be bad for the viewing figures, either.
“It’s chuffing TV gold, Julian,” I heard someone bellow, as I grabbed some kit and ran up to the lambing pens, where Dave the farmer was clutching the ewe’s insides to prevent them from spilling on the straw. The next part of the evening was simple for me.
“I’d done the same procedure hundreds of times before, and ignoring the lights, the cameras and the rest of the action. I was being a vet. That is what I am best at. No retakes, because vets don’t get to do retakes.
The epidural went smoothly, and I cleaned the prolapsed uterus before replacing it with satisfying ease, finally placing an all-important suture to keep everything in position. I’m not sure how it panned out on TV (I didn’t see that bit). I presumed the presenter was offering commentary on the ‘live stream’ that was the sheep’s insides and me. I could imagine something like this: “Julian has just numbed the area with an epidural…and now he’s stopped the ewe from straining he’s carefully replacing the uterus…let’s hope it is successful…”
Later that evening, I found myself sitting on straw bales, next to Adam Henson the presenter, with loads of cameras all pointing at me again, some on tripods and one attached to a flying jib, swooping around above and in front of us all.
“How was it up in the lambing pens just now, Julian? It looked very tense?”
“Well, it was a bit stressful, but nothing compared to being interviewed live on television by a famous person off the telly,” I wanted to say.
Of course, I didn’t. Instead, after a deep breath, I explained, as clearly as I could, the ins and outs (or outs and ins, I suppose) of replacing a prolapse in a sheep.
I’m due back to Cannon Hall this week, to help with the next series. There is a call time, a running order and lots of protocols to follow. Maybe there is a tight schedule, too. But you can never adhere to a schedule in veterinary medicine.
Springtime on the Farm is back this week on Channel 5.