The boys are back in town.

The Micro Crofter’s arrival coincided with the byre getting mucked out. Aromatic whaffs slowly drifted down the glen as the cooler, winter air inhibited some of the more pungent smells that have been laying dormant under a blanket of fresh straw. Never mind, as the muck matures, the heap soon flattens out to provide well rotted manure; a high value substance for the polytunnel, raised beds, orchard and veg garden.

It was soon after this that we hit a hiatus with croft work. A typical Friday but the Micro Crofter at two weeks old was doing a good impersonation of a grunting pig. And as evening fell, his breathing appeared to be making him work. And that doesn’t look good to a nurse. We may believe in working hard but we do give exceptions to some, such as newborns. So, the Crofter rang NHS 24. Lo and behold, they wanted to check on a two week old with breathing difficulties. And with that it was deemed that the Micro would go in to town with the Crofter and leave me at home with the Mini Crofter.

Their trip to town didn’t just become a late night. After being seen by an out of hours GP, they were admitted to the children’s ward to monitor the Micro overnight. And this is when you realise how much difference there is between animal health and the NHS. While payment is made just to call a vet out, pound coins magically slip from your grasp the longer the vet is on your turf. Then add the cost of medication if required. The NHS shows the other side and it was a weekend like this that make you want to ensure all involved get the thanks. The staff and service at Raigmore Hospital was top notch.

From being a nurse, it can often seem that all you hear about regarding your place of work is what’s wrong, failures and inadequacy. However, the media may like to pull out the muck and spread it around. But the understanding of it is rarely touched upon. Sometimes issues raised can be useful, but other times it seems it does more damage than what the journalists and complainers realise. The background to the issue is rarely raised. It is as if people complain about our muck heap without having any understanding as to why it smells and how it came about. It may stink but we ensure the cows have fresh bedding by regularly putting in a bale of straw. Yes, they may be inside in a byre but I’m tucked up in our house more in winter.

So, to NHS Highland, thank you to all the staff and the service you provided the Micro. To all walkers passing by, take a good, deep breath of the the muck heap, and as you smell the ‘fresh air’ remember the NHS, for all its issues, we can still be thankful.

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