Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference

Writers Posted 22/06/20
Since Covid-19 emerged, it’s been wonderful to witness a change in attitude towards the NHS.

“Stuck… stuck…” announced George with a concerned expression on his face. I stopped Shrek (ATV) as we looked at the grotesque sight in front of us. Being a hot day, the ewe, a mother of twins, had blown up like a balloon. An empty feeder with the bars set on the widest setting stood in the middle of the field where the sheep were grazing.

The birds had long since cleared up any stray grains left in it. So why had this previously healthy but clearly greedy mule managed to wedge her head in the feeder and twist her body like a contortionist? “Ba ba sleeping?” suggested George. A permanent sleep, I thought grimly. I wondered about the best explanation to give a nearly two year-old. I decided to go with the truth but tried not to make a big deal about it.

In London my legal beagle daughter and children spent time in parks; now locked down on the farm, they often accompany me on lookering duties. Angus beams smiles and then generally falls asleep, but George is getting to grips with farming life. He has no fear of sheep or cattle; amusingly, he mimics calling them and then counting. In George’s eyes, though, livestock pale into insignificance when compared to tractors and machinery.

The Londonites are soon to become Eastbournians as finally they have completed the selling and buying process, so they will soon be moving on.

Brie and I were both relieved when we successfully penned the flock for the first time post lambing. Admittedly we did have a little help. What better way to spend a bank holiday? Strategically planned so that office working family wouldn’t miss the fun.

Immunising lambs with Ovivac P, dagging out a few ewes, worming ewes and lambs, applying Clik Extra to lambs and Ectofly to ewes; there’s no denying it’s hard work, chaotic and noisy, but immensely satisfying when the final sheep are released back into the field. As a bonus we managed to get an accurate count on numbers to keep the statisticians happy. At five weeks after lambing we had 1.8 live lambs per ewe. A good family bonding day I thought, so I can’t understand why the suggestion of cutting sheep numbers has re-emerged.

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. Since Covid-19 emerged, it’s been wonderful to witness a change in attitude towards the NHS. A long overdue appreciation for the service provided is good to see.

In the 30-plus years that I spent nursing in the emergency unit, I can recall several occasions when people were less than appreciative. One time when an elderly female farmer attended the department, the wait to see a doctor was longer than usual as they were all busy in the resuscitation room. In the minors’ area, investigations and observations had been done and I was inputting data into the computer when this spirited farmer suddenly blurted out: “You lot are a waste of space! I’ve been watching you and I wouldn’t employ not one of you on my farm.”

My colleagues were astounded, and they looked to me as a farmer to deal with this outburst. Unfortunately this lady (I use the term lightly) was in no mood to listen to explanations or reason and continued with a tirade of abuse. She upset a colleague by telling her she was ugly. To make matters worse, when a doctor did arrive, to my dismay she refused to be seen by a ‘foreigner’. It was a truly shocking display of appalling behaviour, showing a total lack of social skills and respect. It possibly derived from spending too much time in her own company on the farm. My colleagues warned me to be careful in my old age not to turn out like this farmer and I promised faithfully to avoid doing so.

While working nights in A&E, I got to know several members of the police force and generally they were a good bunch, but as in all walks of life, there were exceptions. On the odd occasion I saw over exuberant practice. Luckily, as a nurse you can ask the police to leave your patient and wait outside. Deploying this tactic was in these instances extremely satisfying.

Witnessing the callous attitude of those policeman when they killed George Floyd was incredibly sad; surely no one could fail to be moved by the injustice of the situation. It’s understandable that this incident has sparked deep emotions. I feel concern for the demonstrators’ health; they are at risk of catching Covid-19 by not social distancing. Anti-racism protesters wave banners stating “Black Lives Matter”; this should be indisputable. I hope that the authorities worldwide take action to rectify racial inequality. I’ve given up on watching the news; too much negativity. This gains me some time, which is always in short supply. Legal Beagle daughter has given me a ‘things to do today book’ with priority, dealt with and follow-up sections.

I thought about this list when attempting to guide a young heifer into a pen that we’d quickly erected. Other half had commented two months ago that three of our young heifers were ‘nurturing up’. Last year he said the same and we got the vet in to do pregnancy testing. The results were negative, but the bill wasn’t!

Not wanting a repeat performance, I dismissed his concerns. I contemplated this as I observed a calf’s nose and one leg gliding in and out with each contraction. The heifer needed assistance but wasn’t co-operating. Once penned we were able to help deliver a healthy calf. Managing time on the farm doesn’t always fit into convenient slots.

Update on the fox; we often glimpse him, just out of gunshot range, but my chickens are now protected by electric poultry netting. Good news, it’s rained; now perhaps the grass will grow and bulk up our silage and hay crops.


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