Rosie Perrett has been gaining some hands-on EMS experience before the run up to her first year exams.
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I did two weeks' lambing EMS over the Easter holidays on two different farms. The last time I did any lambing was around five years ago when I first applied to university. It was a steep learning curve; however, whether it was five years ago or now, it's still one of my favourite farming events of the year. I learnt an incredible amount that sitting down and reading a book wouldn't have taught me.
I like to talk (a lot) so I asked lots of questions as well as checking my knowledge on subjects we've been taught this year – hypocalcaemia, hypomagnesaemia, sheep husbandry, entropion, hormones and their effects, reproductive system and anatomy. During the two weeks, I worked with Suffolks, Texels, charollais and herdwicks across indoor lambing (800) and outdoor lambing (185). Seeing both sides of the lambing process made me balance up the pros and cons of different methods, as both farms were polar extremes of each other. It enabled me to make my own decisions about what methods and principles I preferred.
I got my fair share of interesting cases, including a ewe with hypomagnesaemia within an hour of my arrival. It really did look like a miracle when we treated it: I've never seen anything look so moribund and then suddenly so alive. I had the opportunity to assist with several lambings, and came to the conclusion that being small has its advantage when you need little hands to reach into places that other hands cannot. And who needs a gym membership when you're grabbing sheep and moving lambs all over the place? By 9 pm on the first day I was sound asleep on the sofa. One important piece of husbandry I've learned is that it's ‘maaa’ not ‘baaa’– the nursery rhyme has it all wrong. I know this now, having spent long enough tempting sheep to follow me.
My one problem is learning to be tactful about discussing my lambing placements: I don't think the couple sat next to us at the Indian restaurant, the night before I left home to come back to uni, were overly happy with my indepth chat about ewes and the ins and outs of the uterus. To be honest, I don't think Dad was either, after repeatedly having to remind me ‘it's not a subject for the dinner table’. However, having spent two weeks of my life lambing, it's all I really wanted to talk about.
Now it's back to lectures, albeit only for two weeks before our three-week exam leave. In these final two weeks, we have an introduction to pharmacology as well as a small welfare module, both which will be expanded on in our second year. So. now Easter is over, it's head down and revision time, with a kettle always coming to the boil not that far away.