VET’S DIARY: Memories of malaria, cattle and polo ponies

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It’s been a busy spring but with reasonable weather, most farmers’ results have been good with plenty of lambs and calves on the ground, writes Andrew Sawyer.

During May, we are often asked if it’s become quieter but invariably this is followed by a night on call and a midnight calving or caesarean.

Last Friday was one such call when even I was beginning to think I might get a night’s rest as most farmers have finished calving.

The call came from the farmer’s wife as the farmer was tucked up in bed.

When I arrived the cow was already haltered and we delivered a large live bull calf.

Most of the cleansing followed the calf so we were only just in time, half an hour later and the calf would have been dead as its oxygen supply was compromised.

It’s still a good feeling to end with a successful outcome.

The evening was marred by roadworks on the A1 closing the route home and meaning a lengthy detour.

It’s still busy enough to prevent me visiting my daughter before she heads off on her elective to hospitals in Zambia and Malawi for the summer.

I was pleasantly surprised when she told me where she was going as 30 years ago I worked as the vet in Mazabuka, Zambia, and this is the nearest town to her hospital.

It prompted me to contact old friends from my time there.

So now Jasmine will be picked up from the airport when she arrives in Mazabuka, and hopefully I will get some news from the area when she gets back.

I still have fond memories of the sociable people I worked for and the experience of being the only vet to look after 40 of the largest commercial farms in Zambia, with herds of pedigree and commercial cattle, some sheep, pigs, domestic pets and polo ponies.

I returned home after two years, 42,000 PDs and a wide range of other experiences including surgery on horse colics, needing aid packages of medicines from the UK as drugs were hard to get in Zambia and, personally, a severe attack of malaria.

I hope Jasmine has as much fun and gets to treat a number of patients but stays healthy herself.