He had no idea what was in store for him. If he was able to string coherent thoughts together, he must have been confused that he’d been kept inside in a pen on a pleasant summer’s day.
If he had known his fate, he certainly wouldn’t have escaped through the chink in the door as I returned to my car to collect the important surgical equipment I needed.
He was stronger than me, with a lower centre of gravity and powered by four legs rather than two, so I stood no chance of stopping him and my heart sank as he rushed past me in a blur and down the farm lane.
It brought back bad memories of my first veterinary job when, as a newly qualified vet, I worked in Caithness at the very north of Scotland, in the practice now on its way to fame as The Highland Vet. A trailer appeared in the car park with two sheep, both suffering from vaginal prolapses.
Since it was coffee time – a fiercely protected break in what were always very busy days – all the more senior vets had settled down to rest their weary legs. As a non-weary new graduate, overflowing with energy and enthusiasm, I jumped up to tackle the job, which should have been simple.
Had both sheep not burst out over the tailgate and disappeared into the distance, it would have been simple and it was simple, once the furious, red-faced farmer and I had chased them down a lane for over a mile, before capturing them.
But, fortunately, there was no such drama today and the patient was quickly captured, using a bucket of tasty sheep nuts. Back in the stable, I arranged my equipment and awaited my colleague.
The tup needed to be vasectomised. This is an excellent way to improve the efficiency of lambing time, by encouraging all the females to come into heat at the same time. For the male, it ensures a happy – a very happy – long life on the farm, mating to one’s heart’s content without fear of paternity issues, or the market. Katy was coming to help/learn. At this stage of my veterinary career, I’ve lost count of the rams that I’ve vasectomised.
Katy is still at the stage of being able to keep an accurate tally so, accomplished and adept as she already was, a chance for extra practice was grabbed with both hands. There is always something new to learn, even when you have been doing it for years. I did the first side, carefully cutting the pre-scrotal skin, identifying, transecting and then removing the all-important vas deferens.
It was soon Katy’s turn and we swapped positions between the ram’s legs. It was hot, especially inside plastic trousers, a plastic top and latex gloves. With sweat dripping from my forehead and trickling down my back, I was happy to disrobe and defer the second part of the job.
“You should do it like this,” Katy suggested, showing me a nifty technique to allow the patient’s legs to be restrained with greater ease. A lambing rope looped over each hind foot and then knelt on by the surgeon provided a perfect way of keeping his legs out of the operating site.
I have to say the second part of the surgery went more smoothly than the first. I could explain this by the fact that the right vas deferens rolls under the fingers more easily than the left, making its exposure easier.
The truth is, of course, that Katy’s surgical skills were already more honed and precise and her sutures more skilfully placed than mine. But it had been a useful afternoon. At least I’d learnt a new trick or two.
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