A Country Veterinary Surgery

Sheep drugs

A vet’s surgery in a very small rural town is an interesting place to be. I called into ours today to pay for Friday’s call-out and get some drugs in to treat No. 28 as I haven’t seen any sign of placenta yet.

Spring being the season of animal births, there were several farmers there, who, like me had come to stock up on treatments for their animals. One guy took away a whole boxful of the suppositories that I administered to my ewe. Smallholders and farmers treat their animals as much as they can themselves. You can’t be calling the vet out for every injection you need to give. Vets are only for emergencies and the skilled things that you can’t possibly do yourself. I need to inject No. 28 with 10 mls (that’s a lot!) of anti-biotic for the next 5 days and give her a small oral dose of a very herby concoction. Today we mixed it into her sheep pellets, but she wasn’t having it. We’ll have to get it into her mouth in a needleless syringe tomorrow. The injecting bit was fine. The only tricky bit is catching her to start with! But once Chris had a good hold, like the llamas, she simply gave up and waited to die and I got the needle into her shoulder muscle, no problem. I’m being very careful. We’re giving her penicillin which I’m extremely allergic to! One false move and Chris will need a new wife.

The veterinary nurse rummaged around in the pile of invoices on the desk to find mine. The surgery is very trusting, this being a small town, and know you’ll turn up at some point to pay. From the look of them, some of the other invoices had been there quite a while.

There weren’t just farmers there. There was a very typical older French lady with her Frou-Frou i.e. lap dog, waiting to see the small animal vet. Both owner and dog were very elegant.

I fell somewhere in the middle between the two sets of customers. We’re not proper farmers but we have large livestock. But we don’t have pampered pets either. Ours pretty much fend for themselves! Actually, that’s not quite true. We look after them properly and keep them fed, wormed and loved. Also I wasn’t in wellies like the farmers but I wasn’t quite elegant. I was in my

Pregnant No. 27 in the foreground

going-out clothes. Chris and I literally only have one set of these each We spend most of our life in outdoor scruffies, some of it in cycling gear and a very small percentage of it in outfits that, aptly enough, are fit to go out in. It’s quite a joke with the kids. If they see me appear in my hippie patchwork trousers, they know I’m heading off somewhere where I’ll encounter members of the public. Once when I turned up to a meeting at Ruadhri’s school, he remarked: “I knew you’d be wearing those clothes.” Possibly it would be nice to have another pair of best trousers but there are always other things that take priority, like food and sheep drugs.

And talking of sheep again, I was convinced No. 27 was going into labour last night since she was restless and panting a lot. I checked her every hour until about 3 am when I lost the will to live through sheer exhaustion and crashed out, but Chris took over from 5am. And she hasn’t given birth during the day, so it could be another tiring night. I’m determined not to lose any more lambs. Fingers crossed things will go well.

Pharmacie Faux-Pas or Cock-Up at the Chemists

I was going to blog about the forthcoming AIPB Anglo-French carol concert. This will be only its third year but it’s already become a tradition in Boussac. French people have taken to the ‘meenzpiess’, which are served up afterwards with mulled wine, with a vengeance. It was the first répétition for the concert last night. Now, répétition is one of those wily faux amis (false friends) in French. It doesn’t mean ‘repetition’, like you’d think, but in fact ‘rehearsal’. We have a couple of run-throughs of the carols so that the French side can get to grips with ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ and ‘While Shepherds Washed Their Socks’, sorry, ‘Watched Their Flocks’, and we Brits can become familiar with the hauntingly beautiful ‘Noël Nouvelet’ and rumbustious ‘Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant’. The energetic and indefatiguable music prof from the Collège, Sylvain Bouard, plays the keyboard to accompany us, and last night there was a French guitarist too. Now, we, the singers, assumed the guitarist had come along with Sylvain, while Sylvain assumed he’d come along with us! Anyway, whoever he was who had wandered off the street to join in, he played magnificently and we hope he’ll turn up again.

So, that’s what I was going to blog about, but along came the pharmacie faux-pas instead yesterday. Rors was sick yesterday so didn’t go to school, which meant Chris and I didn’t get our usual bike rides. Chris wasn’t too bothered about his since he’d fallen off the day before, the first time in about thirty years, and he was feeling bashed and bruised. But I like my exercise so I set off for a shortish spin about 4pm in the lovely warm sunshine. I got back to reports of strange phone calls. Chris had answered the first one, and there’d been a lot of intriguing background noise going on – beeps and burbles, but no apparent human being there. So he’d ignored the next few. However, after my return the phone started up again so I answered it.

« Bonjour, la famille Dagg, » I said.

« C’est la pharmacie » came a timid voice.

There was the usual long pause. French phone conversations are always slightly weird. I answer the phone and say who I am, and the caller then announces who they are. Clearly I am meant at this point to say something along the lines of “Wow!” or “That’s nice” or “How honoured I am to hear from you” because there’s always this silence. I’m waiting for the caller to fill me in on the reasons for calling me, and they’re waiting for flattery or at least some sort of inane remark which I refuse to give. So silence can reign for quite a while!

Anyway, the pharmacie cracked first. It turned out the assistant had given me the wrong tablets for Chris that morning. I’d called in to pick up his anti-histamines and another drug he has to take. She grovelled for a while but I didn’t want that. I kept interrupting to ask ‘Well, what have you given him then?’ This was need-to-know info since Chris had taken one of the small white tablets already.

Finally she admitted it was Wytens instead of Wystamm that she’d handed over. “So what does Wytens do?” I persisted. “I’ll have to check,” she said. Not encouraging. It went quiet while she consulted the computer. I imparted the content of the message to Chris and asked him anxiously if he felt OK. He was busy cooking tea and didn’t look any the worse for wear. At least not yet.

Tension,” came the eventual reply. Well, I was feeling pretty tense by now! Maybe I should take one of these tablets too!

Tension is ‘hypertension’ so it wasn’t too drastic a drug that Chris had taken. However, his other medication has a blood pressure lowering affect too so we’re probably rather lucky that he hadn’t fainted. The assistant kept grovelling. We finally arranged for me to call by next week to pick up the right tablets and hand the remaining wrong ones back in. But I didn’t have to wait that long. Another assistant who works at the chemist’s helps run the Boussac Judo Club where you’ll find me with my laptop and MP3 every Friday evening and Saturday afternoon making use of the time to do some writing while Caits and Rors throw other kids around and pin them to the floor. She brought along the Wystamm in a paper bag with the message “I sorry” in someone’s apologetic best English on the back!

No harm done this time, but I shall be more careful in future. I’d noticed the unfamiliar name on the box of tablets, but thought nothing of it since it’s the policy here for pharmacies to give you a cheap generic version of the drug that the doctor has actually prescribed. So you regularly get a different version of the more common medications like antihistamines. However, it was a worrying incident. I’d always taken it for granted that the pharmaciennes knew what they were doing. Maybe not, after all!

Photo from publicdomainpictures.net by Petr Kratochvil