You guys. Do you want more of this?
Then pop over to our Flickr stream (HERE) to check out the entire set of Lambing EMS photos. Our two weeks in Northumberland were amazing, and I can't wait to show you all what we were up to out there!
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Before Scotland, there was Vermont. Which became our home as a result of 'well, why not?' sentiment. It was strange and amazing to fall in love with that place. And it was really the first brave thing we had ever done together. Dating was not brave, it was slutty and fun. Graduating was not brave, it was what was expected. But packing our own U-haul truck and making haste North can easily be considered brave.
Four years later, with our last Vermont summer at its peak, we seemed to have made the decision to participate a lot more than we normally would have. We slept a lot less, drank a lot more, and hardly ever turned down a proposed date with the best buds.
On one of those last nights, with the apartment nearly empty, we turned-in at about eleven. And once we were laying down in the dark we realized that there were constant, enormous flashing lights outside of our window. It reminded me of the flash you see when a transformer blows, but it was too regular to be an electrical accident.
It was an overcast night, so we couldn't tell where it was coming from. In an effort to find out (and also, to convince me that it wasn't an alien space ship) Tim pulled me outside in my pajamas at midnight. We hopped in his old car, and spent the next two hours chasing heat lightning through the mountains.
We would pull over in fields and on the sides of dirt roads and sit in the quiet and the light. I was sad because we had forgotten our camera, and I had never seen anything so beautiful. I wanted to put photos up online and write about it the very next day.
Then Tim held my hand and said "Maybe this one's just for us."
We sat parked at the edge of a meadow for a half-hour before I whispered "Do you think they have heat lightning in Scotland?"
He watched for a few more minutes and whispered back "Maybe."
And it has been one of the most wonderful moments of my life.
Friday, April 20, 2012
In addition to being the world's most inconsistent blogger, I am also a newly minted Shepard's assistant. Or maybe just a first year vet student that spent the past two weeks in England gaining sheep husbandry experience. But really, why split hairs?
As 'extra mural studies' go, lambing was fantastic! Fellow vet girl, Kim, and I took off to a thousand-acre estate in Northumberland. We worked on an outdoor farm and spent most of our days following the Shepard around learning about obstetrics, tube feeding, foot trimming, castrations, tail-docking, and herding. Eventually, we were even trusted with an ATV.
Off on our own, we surveyed pastures for sheep and lambs that looked like they might be in trouble. We rescued abandoned babies from the fields, and had plenty of opportunity to get our hands (and wrists, elbows, shoulders) dirty as we assisted with deliveries when lambs weren't in the correct presentation. The weather was usually grey and rainy and sometimes cold, but the tea was free-flowing and always piping hot. Our guest cottage was well stocked with hummus and wine, and a few times after 8pm checks we were able to settle in with a fire and good books.
I'll be posting pictures soon, but in the mean time... here are the things I learned from lambing:
1. That I am the kind of girl who will throw myself into a river after a sheep so it doesn't drown. To which Dr. Kathy says, "I'm not surprised... after all you did try to throw yourself on an agonal horse that was thrashing."
So apparently, this is par for the course. It went like this:
[Enter sheep with a hung lamb that we have cornered against the fence and river bank, sure that now we'll be able to grab her and pull the lamb. Sheep jumps into river. I string together a series of eff words.]
Me: "I'm pretty sure it's too deep for our wellies here."
After a lot of effort and swearing and sweating we pull the sheep on to the river bank and deliver two giant lambs, then crawl home for dry clothes and more tea.
2. That I will bruise my hand over and over again, squeezing through a too-small birth canal, if it means that this baby will live.
3. That when birth canals are too small for hands and hooves, extra bailing twine looped around the fetlock can be a life-saver. That working in a team with a girlfriend who stays calm, works methodically, and taps out once exhausted means that we could think more critically about how to deal with a problem birth, support each other, and- after much struggle- pull the lamb out alive. (That lamb, below on the left!)
|Both of these babies are 1 day old!|
4. That sometimes they die, and it really really sucks. But I've been told to focus on the wins instead. So if we seem crass sometimes, I'm pretty sure it's because we have to be.
5. The amount of flesh involved in a prolapse is enthralling.
6. I don't know how this will play out, but there will always be a part of me that aches for dirty farm work with big, sometimes dangerous animals. That ball caps and muddy jeans feel like home.
Love & Lambs,