Julian Norton: Early starts for calves and climbs

A return to Emley Moor for the Tour de Yorkshire.
A return to Emley Moor for the Tour de Yorkshire.
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It all seemed to be happening last weekend. The fun started on Friday evening. I was on second call for Matt, one of our young and enthusiastic veterinary surgeons. He had been called to a heifer, struggling to calve. She had been bulled by accident when she was a bit too young and, when he saw her small stature, Matt knew would she would never be able to deliver the calf naturally.

He needed to do a caesarian and called me in to help. We always have two vets on call at night and during the weekend for just such eventualities. Some jobs are much easier with two pairs of hands.

We are fortunate at the moment, to have a superb team of veterinary surgeons. There are the old hands (sadly, that now includes me), and a couple of vets with eight or more years experience under their belts. We also have three younger vets who have the advantage of youth, vigour and unbridled enthusiasm (not that the rest of us are not enthusiastic - it’s the youth and vigour that wane with the years!). It is a great balance.

As I arrived at the farm and donned my wellies, I knew that Matt would be raring to go. He had already clipped the heifer’s left flank, numbed the operation site with local anaesthetic and prepped it ready for surgery. She was lying comfortably in the straw, so we were loathe to get her up, even though it is much easier to perform a bovine “section” with the animal standing.

Matt did a great job. All I really needed to do was offer moral support. A healthy Aberdeen Angus calf was soon wobbling to its feet. We always try to finish the operation before the calf starts tottering around in search of milk from the mother’s udder.

We had another caesarian later in the weekend, but this time on a little bitch. More healthy babies. Three little pups are every bit as satisfying as one large calf.

For me, though, the highlight of the weekend came on Sunday morning. I was woken by the “beep beep ” not another emergency call, but of my alarm clock. Rising at any time with a “five” in the title is never exactly fun, but it was a beautiful morning. I had arranged for a colleague to stand in for me on second call while I headed to Fox Valley, to ride the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Sportive with a group of friends. The hilly 100km around South and West Yorkshire shared some of the same route as the pros, who were riding the last leg of the three day Tour de Yorkshire.

Some of the route was familiar territory for me. I knew the hills around Emley Moor and Penistone from my childhood, and I was looking forward to the ride, although I knew that not one of the hills would match the challenge of Sutton or Boltby Banks, which were on my doorstep in Thirsk.

It was a great and very successful day’s ride, with nearly 5,000 other cyclists. Even at half past eight in the morning, there were crowds out on the roadsides, cheering on the riders. Yorkshire was once again at its brilliant best.

As I waited for my mates at the end of the ride (I had left them behind on the first climb up Pea Royd Lane - it was steep, but not a patch on Boltby bank) I chatted to a fellow finisher. He had a red face but had loved every minute.

“It was brilliant- what a day!” he spluttered, catching his breath as he crossed the finish line.

“But way too hilly for me. We don’t have this sort of thing in Essex!”

“Welcome to Yorkshire!” was all I could say in reply.

The Yorkshire Vet continues on Channel 5 this Tuesday at 8pm.