Sunday 2 October 2011

y' learn something new every day!

They say you learn something new every day. Well today has been no exception, once again Shep has learnt something new.

A day of preparing sheep for the autumn - dosing, footcare, tagging, keeling, innoculating - just the usual sort of stuff at this time of year. T'was whilst dealing with feet that my knowledge of all things new found itself being expanded.

The sheep were held in a large sized pen, slowly walked by and a watchful eye was kept open and alert for any which were showing signs of lameness. Once anything was spotted it was caught, sat on it's backside and the offending foot/feet dealt with.

All which was required for the operation on hand were a pair of foot shears (similar I guess to garden secateurs or even heavy duty scissors), antiseptic for application to the foot and observation. Fairly simple really.

As said the pen was a bit on the big side, smaller pens can be easier to handle sheep in but all set ups are different. Shep needed both hands free to catch a hold of the sheep, which meant the sheep either had to be manhandled to where ever the foot shears and antiseptic were left or else they had to be on my person.

I always prefer the easier option and so the foot shears were stuck in the back pocket of my jeans whilst the antiseptic was shoved down the front of my jeans and held in place by the waistband, therefore enabling both hands to be free - great idea. Except! The antiseptic was contained in a small hand sprayer, the type used in kitchens to spray cleaners onto surfaces had found itself recycled into the sheep pens to hold the required 'medicine'. Very useful. Except............. !!

I had handled quite a few sheep, pared their feet, sprayed any feet which required treatment, each time replacing the bottle back into the waistband of my jeans. I had exclaimed at the fact one of the sheep had maggots in it's feet, this is now October and maggots would not be so likely to be found at this time of the year, however, summer arrived!! Well okay, not for long, but we did have four outrageously hot days, and I mean hot! Flies had obviously woken up again and gone to work laying their eggs and maggots had hatched.

As said, I had treated a number of sheep before I noticed the mark on my T shirt. I cursed quietly to myself. This particular farmer chooses to use Iodine when treating his sheeps feet and inadvertently every time I bent over the sprayer tucked inside my jeans had been discreetly spraying me, covering my clothing with dark brown iodine. I cursed as I couldn't help think it would be a pain to get the stain out of my clothing, especially as I was wearing a favourite T shirt and one which to date didn't have any holes or tears in it. What the hell! the damage was done, why worry about it? On I went along the same vein, foot shears in back pocket, spray bottle of iodine in waistband of jeans, allowing both hands to be free for the job I was doing.

A good hour went by before the job in hand was sorted and I moved on to doing other jobs to the sheep, bottle and foot shears were put away to one side as dosing commenced.

Lunch time came around and I was invited in to the farmhouse for Sunday dinner - lovely!

I have to say my belly had begun to smart a little but during lunch the sweat started to stand on my brow, the sensation under my clothing was one of skin having been peeled off then sprinkled with vinegar. OOH! just a tad uncomfortable!

I had a discreet little peek. Well I'll be damned - don't know why I hadn't thought the Iodine would soak through my T shirt - silly me! A quick excuse to dash to the loo and hot soapy water was applied along with a bit of scrubbing to see if the stain would wash off - followed by a sharp intake of breath, that probably hadn't been the brightest of moves.......

I had to give in and ask the farmers mother if she had any cream of any description which I could apply to my belly to help take the smarting (stinging) away. Well! Not only did I get cream I also got stripped down and given a fresh T shirt amidst a great deal of fuss and concern and my roast dinner was getting cold too!! It seemed that my attempts to calm the situation were failing, comments of "I'm fine", "it just stings a little" weren't working, something to do with being very red in the face and sweating and looking extremely uncomfortable were observations which were being made......... and my dinner was getting colder!! I finally accepted a couple of paracetemol before my nose was pinched and they were rammed down my throat regardless, gobbled my dinner, smeared cream on my belly and headed back out to the pens.

There's nowt like being kept busy to take your mind off things.

It wasn't long before the job in hand was interrupted by a 'phone call. The NHS helpline had been 'phoned by the concerned and caring farmers mother (I do believe I maybe agreed to this prior to darting from the house) - my face reddened further!

After giving my date of birth (what has that got to do with a smarting belly?) I was asked to describe what it was I had soaked myself in "Extra strong Iodine - 10%" came the reply " but it's alright, I'm not gonna die, it's supposed to be good for sheeps feet and they use it for operations before they cut people open, it's just a wee bit uncomfortable but it'll wear off and anyhow, I've found some cream in the box full of sheep medicines and put that on and it seems to help better than the cream in the house" There was then laughter on the other end of the 'phone, the professional composure of the nurse whom I had been speaking to had cracked "you've smeared yourself with sheep medicines?"
"no, NO, it's a tube of savalon, I think it's for humans"
"sheep savalon?"
"I don't think so, I think it's human savalon, just lives with the sheep medicines"
By this time I was wishing a hole would open and swallow me up, I was imagining this poor soul heading home after her shift, having manned the 'phones all day dealing with all sorts of potentially serious problems telling her husband that she had had a right nutter on the 'phone today. I could almost hear her "You're not going to believe this............"

I did hear her explain to me that Iodine burns and also blisters. "Do you have any blistering?" A quick peek under the shirt "nope, it's fine, just stained, red around the edges and smarting a bit, I'll be fine"

I missed the following advice as to how to deal with my chemical burn as it commenced with a warning not to self medicate with sheep medicines and I couldn't help but laugh and also couldn't help but want to get out of this ludicrous situation I had seemed to find myself. It could only happen to Shep!

Boy was I pleased to get home that night! I've worked with Iodine all my working life, every farm has Iodine, it's used for numerous things, I've used it myself if I've cut my finger or something, just head to the sheep medicine cupboard and douse the offending cut with Iodine. I didn't know it burnt.

Unfortunately once home the problem rose to the fore again, that smarting was still there and sitting down didn't help coz your belly kinda wrinkles and makes things feel sorer. Damn, I wished I could remember what that nurse had said you could put on and what you couldn't. An ice pack was helping then I did the "Who wants to be a millionaire" thing and I 'phoned a friend.

I've accepted I was put on this planet to make people laugh and there's no doubt about it my friend did just that, when she arrived at the house twenty minutes later with burn creams in her hand the tears were streaming down her face, a quick peek had her almost hysterical. "Did you not know Iodine burns? You're priceless!"

This is the same friend whom many years ago came to the rescue after I had used caustic soda to strip paint off some wood, my fingers were sore, my fingernails were brown and my friend exclaimed "for god's sake - it's caustic! that means it burns! you're lucky you've still got fingers. Didn't you think to wear gloves?" followed again by guffaws of laughter.

So....... a learning curve! Anyone who didn't know let me tell you IODINE BURNS - just in case you hadn't got the jist of this posting! Don't worry tho', I'll live. I've got quite an impressive red blob which looks something like the shape of australia, in fact I might just call it Oz. Oz will be good company so long as I don't sit down, bend over, wear clothes or put Oz in contact with anything.

Like they say - you learn something new every day!!