Snow joke for vet Andrew as normal route to work goes off-piste

Not even six-feet snow drifts could prevent Aberdeenshire vet Andrew Smith from attending an urgent call to a sick cow after the worst snow for nearly 20 years left roads impassable.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 7:00 am
Vet Andrew Smith on his skis

Andrew pulled on his salopettes and goggles and skied the one mile from his home to the farm at Fisherford after going off-piste took on a whole different meaning.

The snow was so deep, Andrew, a clinical director at Donview Vets in Inverurie, found himself skiing over the top of fence posts on his way to the call-out on Saturday 20 February.

The main roads were blocked by stranded lorries and cars, and villagers found themselves completely cut off for the entire weekend.

Small holding owners Jan and Ray Alder, who have a herd of Highland cattle, were stunned when Andrew arrived with his medical supplies in his haversack.

Andrew, a vet for 14 years, is a keen cross-country skier and, but for Covid restrictions, would have actually been on a skiing holiday with wife Rachelle Grogan in Sweden, where conditions weren’t nearly as bad as Aberdeenshire.

Andrew said: “We had a lot of snow and then the wind picked up and blew it into the road, creating huge drifts. The roads were blocked by lorries and earlier in the day my car had got stuck and a tractor had to get me out. It was the worst conditions I’ve ever had to face to do my job.

“I’ve never not managed to answer a call and I wasn’t going to let that happen, but it was impossible to walk. Skiing was probably the easiest way to get there. I got my skis and made sure I was dressed for the conditions and I think the wind blew me there. You could just see the tops of fences as I skied over them. The biggest battle was getting home as I was going against the wind.

“Jan and Ray were staggered when I got there as their tractor couldn’t even get out, but they were very grateful.”

Unfortunately Andrew’s heroics were not rewarded with a happy outcome as the Highland cow was so ill but his efforts certainly impressed Jan and Ray.

Jan said: “Andrew went above and beyond to get to us in the height of the blizzard, but that’s the sort of vet he is as he cares passionately and is so knowledgeable. He didn’t have to make the journey and many wouldn’t have done.

“We’ve been up here for 18 years and I’ve never seen weather like it. When he left, he skied home head-on into the fiercest blizzard.

“Andrew couldn’t have done anything more. Coming through the blizzard to try to help her gave her a chance and you can’t ask for more than that.”

There has been a ray of sunshine for the Alders this week, however, as they welcomed a heifer calf on Thursday morning at their farm.

Donview Veterinary Centre is a multi-award-winning practice, with its main practice in Inverurie and a branch in Kintore.