Friday, August 7, 2015

Limited surgical skills, but an excellent midwife!

I have just returned from a night in Harare after a hard day of shopping for the hotel. As most of you are aware, I am an amateur, but extremely enthusiastic, surgeon, and will try my hand at most medical procedures. One area of particular expertise, though, is midwifery, and I am fast becoming highly accomplished at ushering new life into this world.

Though my efforts in delivery wards are largely limited to shouting encouragement, and handing out clean towels and hot water to anyone who needs them, I generally am successful at this birthing game. My advice, based on quite a lot of experience, tends to consist of exhortations to "push" and to "breathe" (both essential to the birthing process), and I have even been known to cheer.

So this is the tale of my latest efforts as a midwife . . . .

A couple of months ago, I posted a photo to close friends, and there was just one symbol:


The verdict amongst friends and family was unanimous. My beloved little Caramel had somehow got herself in the family way.

How did that happen???!!?

I still wasn't sure, but she became progressively rounder and rounder and in the end it was undeniable. Caramel was pregnant.

Not only did she get really uncomfortable (though only when she was standing, sitting, lying, running or walking), she also got a really thoughtful expression. Very contemplative.

The "I've-got-stuff-going-on-in-my-stomach" kind of expression. See if you spot it?

So Caramel was obviously pregnant, and when I arrived home yesterday evening, she was 'nesting', and had settled herself into our delivery ward. I spent a lot of time lying on the carpet with my head stuck into the cupboard next to her, calming her down. She was whimpering and in slight distress, and this became progressively worse, until at around 11pm the first puppy made its appearance - breech. I had to help pull it into the world, and the miracle of birth once again left me feeling slightly inadequate. After the first one, things were a lot easier, and she spat them out like watermelon pips.

This is the delivery and maternity ward, otherwise known as our linen cupboard, early the next morning:

And how did the procedure go? Well, I have been present at the birth of my own 3 children, and have attended both of our dogs in their time of delivery - and, as usual, I found childbirth totally painless.

Piece of cake.

Here is Caramel cleaning and feeding her new family at 05.00 in the morning:

So after a night of delivery ward duty (though I must admit a slight dereliction of duty - I was fast asleep when the last 2 arrived! Oh well . . . .), we are now the proud grandparents to 5 new puppies!

Just look at how beautiful the new additions are. Two of the new puppies are dappled - while the other three are pale brown, like their mum. Here are the 2 dappled ones:

Beautiful, aren't they?

The puppies are obviously dachshunds - and while Caramel is the mother, we have 2 other 'daxies' living in our home. So which of the 2 do you think is the father? Blue - at the top, or Honey, at the bottom?

Well it soon became apparent which of the 2 was the guilty party, because while Honey was frantic - trying to get to the pups, whimpering, and barking endlessly - Blue heard the news of the additions to the family with great stoicism. He nodded his head . . . . .  and went back to bed.

Just like new dads the world over.

Job done!

Mind you, the fact that Honey is female probably excludes her from the possibility of her being father to the puppies, and again the fact that 2 are dappled probably points the finger of blame straight at Blue.

But we had been genuinely surprised to find Caramel pregnant. As an old friend - Jannie Martin, had observed, fat heifers never come into season. Caramel is of what I like to call 'traditional build', and had not been in season for a couple of years. At least that is what we thought.

So it is official. Blue is ready for stud duties (actually quite keen) and quite capable of hitting the 'copy' button.

Have a great day!

Oh - and don't forget you can read all other 200 posts by clicking the icons at the top right of this page. Please also 'share' on Facebook. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Big . . . . like a giant!

I begin with a photograph taken of Jasmine the giraffe. She was orphaned when she was 2 weeks old and her mother died. One of the guides at Pamuzinda bottle-fed her for the first few months of her life, and she was then weaned off milk, and introduced to horse cubes. She comes to the Pamuzinda reception pretty much every day at around 2.00pm for her daily ration of cubes.

This was Jasmine (and me) some 8 months ago . . . .

Oh - we both looked so young in those days!

And another picture of a dainty Jasmine wandering down the road. She really was all legs and eyelashes.

In the time I have been at Pamuzinda - Jasmine has grown. In fact, because of the nutrients she gets in the horse cubes (or horse nuts, depending on where you live) she is about a foot and a half taller than her siblings - the calves born at the same time as her.

She really is getting quite tall. This photograph was taken this afternoon . . .

As I was watching, Jasmine moved off into the bush, and then I noticed another giraffe quietly browsing in the bush beside the horse pen by our entrance gate - a huge, dark bull. She went straight up to him (possibly her father), and rubbed her head on his haunch. In this photo she is actually touching him - and you get some idea of the size of him. That's Jasmine on the right . . .

Finally they came out into a clearing, with the big bull in the foreground - and Jasmine behind. She was about 5 paces the other side of him . . .

So here - in all his glory, is the bull giraffe. And, believe or not, Jasmine only just can see over his back. The top of her horns do not reach the top of the bulge at the base of his neck.

What a magnificent sight - and something that I was fortunate to see. I spent about half an hour roughly 20 paces from him as he fed, and I think the fact that Jasmine was not afraid of me somehow calmed him.

Truly magnificent . . . . .

One of those days that makes me feel great to live in Africa.


Have a great day, y'awl!