Victoria’s Story: Animals are my entire world

VICTORIA

Victoria 1

ANIMALS ARE MY ENTIRE WORLD

MY MOTIVATIONS CHANGED

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As a vet student, it probably goes without saying that animals are my entire world, but perhaps not for the reasons you’d think! 

I’ve wanted to be a vet for as long as I can remember, and certainly back then my reasons were most likely to do with liking the idea of spending my time nosing on other people’s farms and seeing to their cows and sheep. However, somewhere along my journey, my motivations changed.

CONSTANT SOURCE OF COMFORT

Now, following a long string of work experience and a little more life experience, I understand how important animals are to so many people and am constantly amazed by the unique role they play in the happiness of humans. So, if someone were to ask me now why I want to be a vet, I wouldn’t be making something up or stuttering on ‘erm…I don’t know’ anymore.

Animals are a constant source of comfort and strength, whether that be as a loving fur friend, or in the context of livestock, provide a lifestyle that may be hard work and unsociable, but is one that so many people are defined by, and I never find it hard to motivate myself to help people keep the animals that mean so much to them.

FEELING AT HOME

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As a child, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time on my grandparents’ small holding, where my Grandad taught me almost everything I know about looking after sheep, which remain my favourite animals to work with. I learned to feed lambs, feed sheep, get them into the shed, carry lambs so the mothers would follow and so on, but the most striking thing I learned was that I never felt more at home than when I was surrounded by animals.

KEEP PLODDING ON 

As my love and understanding of animals grew, so did my motivations to train as a veterinary surgeon, so you can imagine how happy I was to end up here at the University of Liverpool on their Veterinary Science course. I am truly thankful every day that I got the opportunity to train, but that doesn’t mean that vet school has been a smooth road! Of course there’s the obvious, such as exam stress (I HATE exams!!), deadline stress, and the stress you get just trying to keep on top of lectures, but there’s also tiredness, being away from home (especially when you’re ill- it’s awful being away from familiarities and feeling on your own!), and pressures like finance that most of us have never had to deal with before.

Sometimes, the stress gets too much and you wonder why you bother; but then Easter comes around and you get to go home and do work experience placements, usually on a lambing farm in first and second year. For me, just a couple of hours on a farm is more than enough to remind me why I wanted to do this in the first place and helps me keep plodding on, even when the workload seems way too heavy for me.

A WHOLE NEW SENSE OF PURPOSE 

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One farm in particular has become a huge part of my world, and that’s an arable, dairy and sheep farm up in the North East of England. As I said, vet school is great but is definitely not always plain sailing, and I have faced many challenges since coming to Liverpool: adapting to being in a city, feeling inadequate, and sometimes feeling just out of place and useless in surroundings that just don’t seem quite as much like ‘home’.

I was struggling most in my second year at uni, which is when this farm took me in. Suddenly, I felt like I had found something I was good at (milking cows and lambing sheep) and this kick started my motivation and gave me a whole new sense of purpose. Even when I’m doing okay, this place brightens up my day in a way that nothing else seems to. I have learned so much from spending time on this farm and love the place and the people very dearly.

ANIMALS ARE MY WORLD

In short, animals are my world and I truly believe it’s the same for a very large proportion of people in the world. Being a vet and a farmer has become a massive part of my personality and makes me who I am: I may be looked down on for having dirty hands, I may be called hypocritical for ‘loving animals but still working on farms where they are bred for food’, I may be told I’m not clever enough and I can’t do it, but at the end of the day, I was made to be a vet and my love of animals will not let me fail.

VICTORIA

Blog: https://barkingmadvet.video.blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Barking-Mad-592686627844164/

A vet student’s perspective: Animals Are My Therapy

INTRODUCTION

After following Barkind Mad Vet for a while, I was keen to reach out to Victoria to contribute to Animals are my therapy.

In the meantime of writing her personal story to share on here, Victoria has shared the wider perspective as a vet student on her blog. 

So here is part one of Victoria’s Animals are my therapy story.

BARKING MAD VET BLOG POST:

Following last week’s blog, I have started working on a much more personal post surrounding the title ‘Animals Are My Therapy’, on a blog published by an amazing pre-vet student with a special message to share.

My animal therapy story has been one of the hardest things I’ve written so far, mainly because after sitting with a blank piece of paper, I didn’t know where to start! I quickly realised that animals have shaped my personality and now my career choices in countless ways. Although I can’t think of a specific significant event, being surrounded by animals has grown to be what makes me feel at home.

I could now go off on a tangent with several anecdotes and memories, but I want to focus on the bigger picture; I know for a fact that I am not the only person who finds comfort and strength through a four-legged friend (or a feathered friend!) and this is my major motivation for training as a vet.

The obvious role of a vet is the one most people see: a general practitioner in the consulting room with them, trying to cure their dog’s recent stomach upset or treat his painful leg. However, if you look a bit closer, you see the vet taking time to explain what’s wrong with the pet, describing different treatment options, going through positives and negatives, being patient, and helping the owner make a decision. When you can help an owner leave the vets feeling reassured and confident that they’ve made the right decision, it is just as important and just as rewarding as treating their pet.

Working as a vet on a farm is quite different to working with dogs and cats; whilst farmers do passionately care about their livestock, a vet has to be more aware of the business element of the decisions a farmer has to make. As you’ll know if you’re read some of my other blogs, I spend a lot of my time on farms when I’m back home in the North East and I know how much a farmer wants to help his stock. There is no better feeling than when a vet helps you design a treatment plan which allows the cow or sheep or pig to be treated within you budget! Alongside being their livelihood, farm animals are quite often the pride and joy of their owners, who have been working hard to build up their pedigree for generations; this explains the disastrous consequences the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001 when so many farmers faced severe depression and even suicide after losing their stock.

So, as a vet, vet nurse, vet student, nursing student, or an aspiring veterinary professional, it’s super important to remember what an amazing job the profession is doing in working to make sure that humans can keep their animals in the best possible conditions, and keep their four legged friends by their side for as long as possible. Keep going everyone, you’re doing great!

If I’ve not quite convinced you how much animals mean to humans, or if you just want to read some amazing animal therapy stories, check out the ‘Animals Are My Therapy’ tab of Mammalsandmicroscopes: an amazing set of stories put together by an awesome soon-to-be vet student! Well done Heidi, your message is super special and very very important!

FOLLOW VICTORIA

BLOG: Barking Mad Vet

FACEBOOK: Barking Mad

A how to guide. Veterinary placements abroad.

“IF YOUR DREAMS DON’T SCARE YOU, THEY AREN’T BIG ENOUGH.”

After asking for blog post inspiration on my instagram account , here is a
HOW TO GUIDE: Getting work experience placements abroad.

(With the help of some incredible instagrammers in the online veterinary community.)

Securing placements at our local small animal practices can feel hard enough. Conducting a google survey of the local area to ensure that your email proposals have the highest chance of success, the worry of lacking previous experience to outcompete other aspiring vets, refreshing your email inbox in the hope that a response will magically appear.

So how on earth do you begin searching for placements abroad?

STEPHANIE’S STORY:

THE BEGINNING:

When I initially looked into overseas placements, I did not look for the location. Instead, I looked for placements with the animals I wanted to work with

I remember googling ‘elephant volunteering’, or ‘working with seals’.

It is good to note that there is a whole bunch of programs and websites that run specific programs for vets and vet students. This is so that you get all the information you want about your placement and the animals in regards to the veterinary industry surrounding them. Rather than solely gaining the understanding given to the general public volunteering.

GOOD CONTACTS:

To name a few locations that I know running these would be:
Elephant Nature Park
Wild Inside Vet Volunteers
Worldwide Veterinary Service
Globe Trotting Veterinary
and many more!

Doing this meant that I could do what I wanted to do with animals and worry about the location and getting there later

THE OBSTACLE:

The main issue with overseas placements is money.

So unless you are flushed with cash, I am not, it takes a lot of planning and saving.

I booked my placement in Thailand a year and a half in advance, and I was looking into it two years before the placement. All so that I had enough money for a deposit.

Having a budget and saving for your overseas placement will be worth it!

FOR AUSTRALIAN STUDENTS:

If you are lucky enough to live in Australia (or other locations), the government will actually loan you money to go on 2 overseas placement trips through university. This loan is then added to your HCES university debt and is paid back through tax when you reach the income threshold to pay back your normal university debt.
Here in Australia this is called OS-help –  I wish I knew about it before my trip to Thailand!

DO YOU RESEARCH:

The most important thing is to look into all options when wanting to do an overseas placement.

You could believe that you have an amazing placement lined up in Africa to take care of the animals, only to find out that it is only so other customers can poach them.

Do your research!

Talk to fellow students and see where they have gone. Seek out recommendations. Remember to check to see if the university can help with funding or scholarships for this.

HAVE FUN!:

But most of all have fun and enjoy it while it lasts.

Don’t let anyone put you off by saying “are you really going to go by yourself” because f*** yeah it is amazing!

HEIDI’S STORY:

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Another question was about money. 
With travel expenses, increased living costs, loss of working days (not an exhaustive list!). How can you afford to go on a placement abroad? 

FINLAND

I couldn’t in 2017, when I worked on a husky farm in Finland.

Although my journey to that placement is unique, it is proof that life can may just throw one at you. My first “proper” work experience placement opened the door to work in Finland. After a summer of volunteering in 2016, I was gifted a token to flights for 2017 in order to take on the challenge of husky farm life.

SWITZERLAND

Getting to Switzerland was a different story – Cheap flights.

I am currently packing for my next journey to Switzerland this February, £50 return with easyJet. Animals need care 365 days a year, but every place has its “off peak” month/s. A bonus is taking holiday pay off work for said placement. 

The answer to your flight problems:
sky scanner

“ALL THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IS THAT IT IS POSSIBLE.”

Put your wellies on

I often recognise that animals provide us with the key to unlock our front door on the days the all-consuming demoralising cloud of depression would leave us feeling trapped. Our four-legged companions can remove the barrier of fog in our minds, and lead us to the great outdoors.
Animals are my therapy.

Many of the benefits of animal therapy stem from the healing powers of being outside.

The outdoors are also my therapy.

So, what do I gain from the outdoors?

1. GRATITUDE

I cannot measure the profound feeling I experience when hiking in the Swiss mountains. Instead of attempting to quantify my success and productivity, I wholeheartedly appreciate the little things in life when enchanted by nature. The things that are free of charge from sunrise to sunrise. 

We are surrounded by it, and is not a fleeting time period of our life. It’s an escape, a refuge, a safe haven. Imagine nature as the secure foundation of our lives, strip back everything else, and you can continue to experience gratitude for being alive.

2. MINDFULNESS

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When the extra things in life can feel overwhelming, the basic foundations of nature ground us. You can simply “be”, surrounded by sights that make you grateful for the life you live. Stop and be captivated, there is no experience likewise. 

Mindfulness involves the other 4 senses too. Allow yourself to touch, taste, hear, smell, and see the natural environments without judgement.

Slow down. Switch off of your inner critic. Sense the wonders of life.

3. STRESS RELIEF

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Nature provides an easy escape from the academic rat race. The change of scenery from four walls and a pile of revision, to picturesque open spaces is an immense stress reliever.

The outdoors offer a chance to gain practical skills, to add another string to your bow whilst learning outdoors. Sequentially, this reduces the stake and mental intensity of textbook learning. 

4. EXPLORATION

Whilst others are being sheep, be the goat that takes the mountain sides.

Whether the outdoor offers you increased spontaneity is in the form of taking your muddy dog on a new route, or hiking in the sweltering heat abroad, always be a goat.

It is easy to be tempted to go off track, to explore new areas, to meet new people. 

Why is the outdoors therapy to you?

Lessons from goats

Welcome to the wonderful world of goat keeping. 

Members of “goaty friends” have shared their main lessons from their caprine companions.

Step 1 to goat keeping? Before searching for the ideal goat?

1. THINK FORT KNOX

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“How to build secure fencing.”
“Fencing is never high enough or strong enough.”
“Fence well before the goats arrive so when they check out the fence they feel trapped right from the start.”
“Can’t go over it, go under, can’t go under, go through… teleport.”
“I’m pretty sure we somehow managed to buy flying goats.”
“If the boundary is safe you can relax.”
“No gate is low enough to the ground.”
“My goats have taught me how to slide through a gate without barely opening it at all.”
“No fence is high enough.”

What about the “goats eat everything” statement?

2. GOATS LOVE FOOD

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“Everything is edible.”
“Food is temporary.”
“A goat can spot a food bucket at about half a mile.”
“That they can love each other so very much, or hate each other with a passion, especially around food.”

They certainly keep you occupied

3. ATTENTION

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“What you think is sufficient pats/cuddles is never enough & that it’s fun for them to jump on your back”

4. BRAINY GOATS

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“That they are very intelligent especially for their own ends.”
“They watch humans and mimic them to learn how to use stiles.”

5. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

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“Learn to think 5 steps ahead of them!”
“Don’t plan anything!”
“To have eyes in the back of my head.”

BUT it isn’t all fun and games…

6. GOATS KNOW HOW TO PUSH YOUR BUTTONS

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“Patience!”
“Never underestimate their ability to come up with a new way to cause you agro all with an innocent look on their faces.”
“Never trust them when they look innocent, the amount of tops I have with holes in as the goats had a nibble before I realised!”
“Trust your instincts!”
“They’ve taught me Swear words!! I didn’t know I knew so many till i started milking goats.”
“How extremely intelligent and utterly stupid they can be at the same time.”

7. PREPARE FOR MESS… they are kids after all

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“Always have a spare set of overalls. And wellies. And socks.”

…Especially when it comes to kidding time

8. YOU HAVE GOAT TO BE KIDDING

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“Kidding will occur at the least appropriate or convenient moment. You’re screwed.”
“Queens of the herd are forever (or at least until kidding season).”
“You can wait and watch a goat kidding for hours and nothing but the two seconds you nip for a wee it’s all over!”
“The “Go and make us a coffee, she will be ages yet!”” 
“Deep snow on the ground? No water? Power out? Congratulations! You have a 100% guarantee at least one goat will have quads today.”

They teach us some serious stuff too.

9. LIVE IN THE NOW

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“They have taught me you are never prepared for the worst.”
“…whenever I get caught up in the past I go to the goat shed and remind myself to live in the now and take care of what I can take care of now and let the rest go.”

The finale…

10. MAN’S BEST FRIEND? GOATS.

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“That life was incomplete without them.”
“That you can never have too many goats.” 
“They are very understanding and patient with people who have disabilities.”
“I have had mine since May and am totally in love.I didn’t know they play as much as they do.So beautiful.I am in love with them both.”
“My love for them & what they give back! can’t imagine my life without them! I have a 6 year old gg I’m her fifth owner what I was told about her I thought what have I done purchasing her but they tell you the truth! I wouldn’t be without her!”
“No two goats are same, all have their own quirks and traits. Can be testing at times but 100% worth it.”
“How loving and funny and clever goats are.”
“They have taught me how much an animal can love both each other and the humans around them”
“They’ve taught me how to be a crazy goat lady.”

Fleur’s story: Always go for your dreams

FLEUR

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ALWAYS GO FOR YOUR DREAMS

IT STARTED WITH GOATS

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My story began in 2014 when my primary school got 2 goats named Sooty and Sweep. I had always loved animals. When all of the other girls played with dolls or did their hair and makeup, I would be playing with worms and snails. I didn’t really have many friends, a couple of close ones, but none of them truly shared the same passion for animals. I’m going to be honest –  mucking out the goats and feeding in the middle of winter on my own at the age of 11 was hard. Then, it hit me, I wanted to work with farm animals!

A NEW JOURNEY 

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Choosing a secondary school to start a new journey was a hard decision. I finally chose Bebington High School because they had their own farm and offered a BTEC course in animal care. 

Year 7 was hard. I kept the same friends and worked very hard at the farm. The farm had a range of animals, from sheep and pigs, to goats and chickens. I had the responsibility of mucking them out and feeding, in the mornings and after school. I made a couple of friends at the farm, but most of the kids left after year 8 – I stayed! Year 9 came and it was time to start my choices. I chose animal care (obviously), and so far it has been amazing! I also met one of my closest friends, Jack Price, who is like a brother to me. We do everything together, and we both have the same amazing passion for animals, which is awesome.

CHALLENGES MAKE YOU DISCOVER THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF 

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The farm is great, but we wanted to get more experience with different farm animals, so we helped on a dairy farm. We herded the cows for milking, tagged the calves, gave hay to the cows and horses, and helped with milking. It was very hard work, but worthwhile. 

I decided that dairy cows weren’t for me. Sheep are my passion. 

Meanwhile, at the school farm there was a decrease in animals due to land limitations and animal welfare comes first. We currently have chickens, ducks, goats, pigs, and a menagerie of small animals and reptiles. In October, we are hoping to get 2 in-lamb Castlemilk Moorit ewes. It would be an exciting change as we had Zwartbles and Hampshire Downs before. 

THE BEST THINGS HAPPEN UNEXPECTEDLY 

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Jack and I wanted to gain experience with other animal species so we plucked up the courage to visit Park Lodge Animal Experiences after seeing the ponies, alpacas, chickens, and a huge German Shepherd dog. To our surprise, the seemingly normal building opened a door to doves, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, mice – any small animal that you could think of! I was ecstatic to be offered a volunteer opportunity.

It didn’t stop there. We entered a dim room – a Halloween decorated reptile room! All sorts of snakes (one was even named Fleur!), tarantulas, scorpions, bearded dragons, and geckos too! A dream, I was in my element surrounded by these beautiful animals. 

The first job was to sweep leaves. Perhaps not your typical first job, but there is so much more to working with animals as we had to ensure that the environment they were in was clean. When we went around the back, I saw an alpaca for the first time and I was in love. We swept up the poop, let the hens out, and then met the outdoor animals. Angus the skunk had 3 kids, and I was sprayed on. Don’t laugh! There were also 2 very needy ferrets with very sharp claws, 2 rabbits, and ex-battery chickens. 

BY DOING WHAT YOU LOVE  YOU INSPIRE AND AWAKEN THE HEARTS OF OTHERS

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Then, it was our first animal encounter with 7 children and their parents. The children were amazed and fascinated by the snakes, geckos, and tarantula. Telling everyone about the animals made me so happy.

I had a light bulb moment – that this is what I want to do. I would love to be an animal educator, and teach people all about the beauty of the animal kingdom.

Jack and I visited more frequently and gained more responsibility as we took kids out for pony rides independently. Opportunities to help at shows around the UK came up, similar to doing animal encounters but with the general public.

YOU CAN ACHIEVE ANYTHING IF YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO IT 

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The animal encounters are run by a lovely woman named Alice, who also owns a rescue. Recently, we discussed being more involved, and eventually taking over the rescue when Jack and I are old enough. We are so excited. That brings me to the now – school holidays are nearly finished and it’s back to school for year 10, and I really can’t wait to see what the future brings.

My motto is “always go for your dreams no matter how big or small you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it” and I will follow that motto for the rest of my life 😁🙌💪

FLEUR

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Farmerfleur365

Megan’s story: Put your best foot first and keep on mooving

MEGAN

PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FIRST AND KEEP ON MOOVING

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL

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My passion for animals has always been deep-rooted, with spending most of my ‘grown up’ time working at a rescue centre for horses and spending my childhood growing up on a smallholding. I have volunteered at animal sanctuaries – I have scooped poo, cleaned cages, walked dogs and dealt with the death of (unfortunately) many animals. I have been lucky enough to have worked with animals from hissing cockroaches to emus to now cows. Animals have quite literally saved my life. If I think back to every point where I wanted to give up, or where I was lost or where I had to make a big life decision it was animals that pulled me from the depths of coldness that surrounded me.
I have cried into horses manes, I have whispered secrets into their ears, I have shared my deepest secrets with a wet nose, four paws and a wagging tail. I have shared kisses, hugs, and most of all happiness with all types of animals. I was never judged, I was never turned away and I was never told they didn’t want to listen or that I should just do better. 

IF YOU FIND A PATH WITH NO OBSTACLES, IT PROBABLY DOESN’T LEAD ANYWHERE.”

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The path to where I am now has been a long one. At 23 years of age with a 2:1 equine science degree, a house, a car and good money – I am still finding out who I want to be and what I want to do.

So if you’re reading this, if you’re starting/finishing college or university with no idea where to go next, do not panic – life has its way of carving out a path you don’t even know you’re on… just enjoy the journey, take opportunities, step out of that comfort zone, embrace life. 

Which is exactly what I am doing now…

I embarked on my journey into the dairy industry full time in March 2018, where I became a calf rearer on a large dairy farm with over 700 acres, milking 550 cows twice a day. Couple that with a house move away from my family, a short two weeks before Christmas and literally very little knowledge of cows and farming – I was really quite literally thrown in at the deep end. 

CREATE THE LIFE YOU CAN’T WAIT TO WAKE UP TO 

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It has been full of laughs, tears, frustration, sweat, hard work and determination. It has unequivocally been the best leap of faith I have ever taken. When I started, I knew a little, just about enough to be able to feed a calf, and that is where my knowledge stopped. HOWEVER now I can ; feed, treat, inject, spot illnesses, calve cows, care for a head of over 50 calves at a time, milk, and most importantly – look forward to waking up every single day.
There is no denying that where there is live stock, there is dead stock and each death is a massive blow to my heart. I work hard, I love, I care and I give my everything to each and every animal but sometimes that is not enough. As farmers, we are so good at looking after our animals that we forget to look after ourselves. 

I AM A FARMER, I AM A WOMAN, I AM A PERSON AND I AM *NOT* ALONE

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I could write pages and pages of stories of the early morning and late nights with complicated calvings and premature calves. I could write about the time a calf I was moving fell onto the acceleration pedal of the gator and took itself for a joy ride. I could tell you about the hours I have spent cuddling sick and injured calves and nursed them back to health but what I really want to tell you is this:
Mental health awareness is on the rise and its increasingly important that we continue to raise awareness and continue to talk to each other. It has been shown that more than one farmer a week dies from suicide. The levels of depression within the agricultural industry are thought to be increasing and suicide rates in farmers are among the highest in any occupational group (ONS). Those who are working in a specific agricultural role such as harvesting crops and rearing animals has a higher risk of suicide (this is almost twice the national average) (ONS)
Farming is tough, it can be lonely, stressful and heart breaking. Issues such as TB and the lack of forage has a HUGE effect on farmers all over the world – except that’s not what people want to talk about. I am called a murderer and I am called a monster and I am not alone. Dairy farmers have such a bad reputation which is snowballed by false online propaganda.
When farming is already tough – it can become unbearable. 
I am a farmer, I am strong, I am tough and I am so full of love. 
I am a farmer, I am weak, I am scared and I am so full of darkness
I am a farmer, I am a woman, I am a PERSON and I am NOT alone.

MEGAN

Instagram: www.instagram.com/megrosemary_

 

Morten’s story: Animal Furrapy

Morten

mortenblog

ANIMAL FURRAPY

ANIMALS REDUCE ANXIETY

Anxiety is an absolute abomination, a haunting twisted apparition! A vindictive sneering wight, which loomed over us no matter what, never letting go and which has an unparalleled appetite for our discomfort and displeasure. Something has to be done… talking about it helps and in turn the eradication of that twisted apparition begins. anxiety can reappear and wreak havoc, but each time we talk about it, anxiety that resides within us receives a devastating mighty kick in the spectral backside.  Talking to people can be fantastic, however talking to animals can be even better.

A SEA OF BLISSFUL TRANQUILITY 

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Animal Furrapy is a truly fantastic thing and something that I would be absolutely lost without. I am not from a farming or agricultural background however growing up in the countryside meant that one could enjoy roaming the marvellous wild and rugged landscapes. Being in outside is all very well and good for anxiety however, being with animals in the great outdoors… now that is even better. I started working at a riding stable as a freelance groom many years ago and although the stress of being a freelance didn’t help placate my anxiety, the interaction with the horses did.

However I moved county and soon work started to dwindle, this slowly started to get to me and my Animal Furrapy fix started to fade away, something had to be done and fast. There is nothing as relaxing as giving a horse a good groom, it is calming and helps keep negative thoughts at bay. Tacking up a horse to be ridden out where it’s just you, the horse and the open countryside helps lose you in a sea of blissful tranquility. The sounds and smells of the horse walking along an empty country lane with nothing for miles around is additive, intoxicating and tremendously healthy.

LIFE IS AN ADVENTURE

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After much deliberation and after weeks of perseverance I managed to get a taste of what it is like to work on a dairy farm. I swapped jodhpurs and riding gear for rubber boots, DeLaval overalls and (occasionally heavy duty waterproofs) and set off into the unknown for an adventure. I turned up for my first morning on the farm, feeling a bundle of nerves. Trying something new in a strange environment where skills I had yet to master was hard and yes, anxiety emerged and played havoc with me. However, just by sitting in a barn while giving a baby calf a hug and a scratch I started to relax a little bit. It’s wonderful to be outside in all weather and stopping to give the odd friendly moo cow a cuddle or a tickle behind her ear and have a bit of a chat to them as I walk through the herd.

HUG COWS!

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During the milking it is also nice to show some affection to the moos waiting to be milked and have a bit of a chat with them as well. It has been about a month to two months since I started to get into dairy farming and trying my hand at milking… and hugging cows! It is so inconceivably different from the world of equitation which I am from and it is without doubt a bit of a learning curve. However, every minute of it and it is having nothing but positive effects on my anxiety.

THREE CHEERS FOR ANIMALS

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Never let your anxiety become your compass and steer you down a path you do not wish to walk. It is always hard trying new things and learning new skills and anxiety will get in the way, but if you keep at it, stay positive and things really will get better, even if it doesn’t seem so straight away. Working with animals big and small will always put a smile on your face. Three cheers for animals and the amazing powers of happiness in which they can bestow upon us all.

MORTEN

Blog: https://arctictundrafox.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ArcticTundraFox

Courtney’s story: The road to my heart is paved with paw prints

COURTNEY

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THE ROAD TO MY HEART IS PAVED WITH PAW PRINTS

PETS – A GREAT WAY TO REDUCE STRESS + ANXIETY

Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.  Mental health illnesses are becoming more common within people both older and younger.

I myself am a 17 year old who has suffered with mental health issues for a number of years (recently diagnosed with depression & anxiety) and have found this particularly hard. I am on medication for this and currently in talking therapy, however, sometimes even the professional help does not actually help and not all people find that therapy or medication works for them.

One of the things that I have benefited from massively is having a pet and it is proven that pets can have a positive impact on a person’s physical health, as well as mental health. A pet can offer an individual companionship, and this is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. I have a dog and have found him a massive help whilst experiencing mental health issues.

ROUTINE. WALKS. FRESH AIR.

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Since suffering with depression and anxiety I have found that there are so many benefits having a dog has had. My dog has made a huge difference, there are days I don’t want to even get out of bed, never mind leave the house. However, dogs get into a routine, they know when it’s time for their food, they know when they want to go out and they know when it’s time for them to go for a walk. Having a dog means that they want to go on walks on a regular basis, this is not only good for them, but it is good for the owner too. At times, when I have had a low day, I find it hard to get out of bed and motivate myself to do every day things, but my dog likes routine as he likes to be walked regularly. When taking the dog for a walk, it means I’m getting out in the fresh air and walking sometimes helps you to ‘clear’ your head.

A SELF-HELP COMPANION

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Having a dog means that you have a companion and I certainly see my dog as my companion. Taking care of my dog gives me a sense of purpose, it means I have to get out of bed to make sure he gets what he needs and that a routine is kept. My dog is a huge help to me and has been all the way throughout my mental health problems, he gives me a reason to get out of bed each day. My dog is what I describe as a ‘needy’ dog, he constantly wants cuddles and to be stroked, which at times can be very annoying but sometimes after a bad day having a cuddle off the dog is all I need.

My dog provides me with unconditional love and brings so much happiness into my life.

I am not saying pets can make your mental illness vanish because they can’t, however, they can really help – Self-help is an essential part of trying to overcome difficulties in your mental health. 

COURTNEY

Blog: http://allthingsmental-health.blogspot.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/courtmcdonaldxx/
Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/Court_MH

Amy’s story: Four Legged Lifeline

AMY

FOUR LEGGED LIFELINE

“SHE SAVES MY LIFE EVERY SINGLE DAY”

I have a rescue dog named Tally. As many of you will have seen she frequently makes appearances on all forms of my social media accounts. She is there so much that many of you may say I am obsessed.

That’s because I am. I am obsessively thankful to this four legged fur ball. Thankful for how she saves my life every single day.

Tally’s story started off a sad one. She was rescued from the streets of rural Athens, Ohio, terrified of people, sickeningly thin and suffering badly from mange. It soon became apparent that, at only one years old (still a puppy herself), Tally had recently given birth. Not one puppy was found, despite kindly volunteers searching the area for days after her rescue. I can’t remember how long Tally had been at the shelter, the only thing I remember is that she was days from death. She was going to be euthanised to make space for other strays. This, unfortunately, was not a No-Kill shelter. There was only one thing to do.

TALLY LOVES WITHOUT HESITATION

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The day I took Tally home, she was so weak I had to carry her up the stairs to my apartment. She could not even make it up 5 stairs without stopping and crying. It became clear that Tally must have been abused as she was terrified of any hand held object and petrified of men.

This start in life could not have been fun. And yet every single day Tally greets those she meets, with what I can only describe as a dog smile. She gently rubs against your legs and snuggles into your hugs. She loves without hesitation and especially enjoys the company of children. She is the most gentle dog you will ever meet. She never makes a sound, only to cry occasionally when her loved ones leave. She has now learned that I will always come back for her.

Tally’s compassion for people, after all they put her through inspires me everyday to forgive. And the quote by Thorn Jones “dogs have a way of finding the people who need them most, and filling an emptiness we didn’t ever know we had” has never been truer in the case of Tally and I. She is well and truly a member of my family.

WHEN YOU FALL DOWN, GET BACK UP AND SHAKE IT OFF

Tally has taught me everything I need to know to help me get better. It’s ok to have a day of just sleeping and eating. Be brave, no matter how big you are. Entertain yourself and make your own fun. Learn new tricks despite your age. Make new friends and sniff out new opportunities. When a loved one comes home always run to greet them. When you fall down, get back up and shake it off.

Most importantly Tally helps me to embrace everyday as a new day to just be happy and go from there.