Freshly qualified vet Amy Hoogenboom is settling in to life among the farmers of Central Otago.

Gravel roads, rusty gear changes, dog dentals, horse dentals, ram palpations, surgeries, barley grasses everywhere, some weird and wonderful cases and managing to only get lost twice. My first few months as a ‘real vet’ have been rather busy, sometimes challenging, but overall very enjoyable. Before I had even arrived in the Maniototo it was already well known by the VetEnt clients that a baby vet by the name of ‘Boomer’ would soon be arriving. Having been called ‘Boom’ most of my high school and university life, along with the clinic already having an Amy, it seemed only logical that not being called by my first name would continue as I embarked on my veterinary career.

The people of the Maniototo are a rather friendly and social bunch; there is always plenty going on within the district. So far I’ve been roped into playing twilight touch, going mountain biking, and joined the Young Farmers club. I have also been pressured into playing in the Autumn league squash despite having never stepped foot inside a squash court or hit a squash ball in my life – I will make sure to keep you updated on whether I will be continuing with this sport after six weeks or not… Fair to say I’ve got some blimmin awesome farming clients – good quality yarns are pretty much guaranteed wherever you go. I have also been treated to cups of tea, freshly baked scones and lunch the day I forgot to bring mine in the ute with me.

Highlight would have to be a weekend trip out into the ranges after being invited out to join a couple of the families of the Mt Ida syndicate as they took their sheep out to their summer grazing. Fantastic to learn about the history of the syndicate with those mustering the sheep out being fifth and sixth generation farmers whose families have been bringing their sheep out to the grazing block for over 100 years. Being the budding photographer I am, personally I was too busy taking photos of the outstanding scenery, including views of Mt Cook, to actually be much of a help with the mustering.

In late February, the Maniototo A&P Association held their annual show. Keen to support the local show, I thought I would enter a few of the classes in the home industries section. You may recall me harping on about my fail-proof ‘triple chocolate brownie’ recipe which I used to wow clinic staff during my placements of final year vet school. Well they failed to wow the judges on this occasion (I’m sure it was because they only cut them in half and look at them rather than taste them) but my chocolate cake picked up second prize and I also scooped a few placings in the photography section. The Maniototo Young Farmers Club runs the dog trials at the show and as part of this the club crutches the lambs being used for the trial runs the day prior.

While being born and raised in Hawke’s Bay may suggest to some that I should be able crutch a sheep blindfolded, I have clipped more cattle for the show ring than I have given sheep haircuts. However, I can now claim to have crutched a whopping total of two lambs without embarrassing myself too much but I won’t be giving up my day job anytime soon. The next adventure down a gravel road is calling, there are lab results to interpret, reports to write and a dog trodden on by a bull has just hopped through the door so I’d better get back to work!