Friday, March 19, 2010

Homebirth in a Bovine Sense

Lately I have been rereading my beloved James Herriot series. Sound familiar? Any fans out there? James Herriot was a country veterinarian in Yorkshire, England; he began his practice in the 1930's and eventually wrote five books about his experiences. They are excellent - check them out if you haven't heard of them! Here are the Titles: All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All, Every Living Thing.

Anyhow, I hadn't read these books since sometime in high school. Now, having ten years more life-experience, plus more knowledge of science, medicine, and history, I am seeing a whole new side to these books that I find absolutely fascinating. (Isn't that always the case when rereading childhood favorites in adulthood?)

A lot of the medicines and techniques he uses, for example, are now antiquated to the point of being in a museum (he started working before the advent of antibiotics or modern pharmaceuticals). Additionally, he was present for the advent of a lot of world-changing medical techniques and drugs - the first antibiotics, the beginning of widespread use of abdominal surgery for farm animals (including the cesarean section), etc.

Some things amaze me - for example, the fact that vaginal and rectal examinations on farm animals were done without gloves. Wow. That would be enough to knock me out of the veterinary circuit! Yikes!

I find it interesting to remember that even though the "birth bug" didn't bite me for another ten years, the most fascinating cases in his books to me were the ones concerning obstetrics- and they still are! An interesting forerunner of the future.

Anyhow, I got interested in a breech calf birth last night while reading, and ended up surfing the net for a while finding out about breech delivery in cows. I can't figure out how to link directly to this file (since it's a PowerPoint file rather than a website), but if you click on this link and then click on the first selection ("Do's and Don't of Delivering Calves"), you'll get a really interesting slide show which is a breakdown of the common obstetric complications in bovines and methods of sorting them out. Extremely interesting stuff! Let me know what you think.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Makes me glad I'm not a cow! :-)

    My parents watched "All Creatures Great and Small" the British TV series. I was either too young to appreciate them, or old enough to think anything my parents liked was fuddy-duddy stuff and not to be liked. ;-)



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