During the Easter holidays, I had my first EMS placement. Although I’d hand-reared cade lambs before, I’d never actually been lambing. Someone in the year above at Glasgow had been to the farm that I and some of my friends had arranged to go to. While they said it would be a good placement, we still didn’t really know what to expect.
It turned out that it probably couldn’t have been better. We got a really friendly farmer who explained everything to us and seemed to strike the balance perfectly between teaching, supervision and leaving us to it when confident enough.
He also didn’t just set us doing menial tasks such as feeding and watering. Of course, we did do some, but he was eager to get us involved in as much lambing as possible and more “vetty” tasks such as injecting sheep or lambs, tube-feeding colostrum and worming. It definitely seemed like he went out of his way to make sure we experienced all aspects of ewe and lamb care during lambing time.
While talking to both the farmer and the other students that were there, we discussed horror stories of placements other people had been on. We’d heard of people sleeping in caravans, cooking for themselves (in said caravan) and being abandoned with very little instruction with a field of lambing sheep. Having warm beds to sleep in the farmhouse, home cooking and as much food as possible thrown at us, we felt very lucky, considering what we could have ended up with.
Unless a placement has been recommended, it is very much luck that determines what sort of accommodation or people you’ll end up working with. We were so grateful to draw the long straw with lambing. It would have been very easy to end up with a placement on which we wouldn’t learn or do nearly as much.