Shropshire's vet turned author set to launch book telling stories of a lifetime in farming

Shropshire's answer to "All Creatures Great and Small" vet James Herriot will be launching his first book on his own experiences in farming at the weekend.

Rod Wood
Rod Wood

Rod Wood retired from Shropshire Farm Vets in May 2021 after a lifetime of getting up close and personal with various parts of animals and saving sick livestock for grateful farmers.

He's even seen the effects that the foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001 - when thousands of animals were killed - had on his own mental health, when he suffered depression.

After qualifying from vet school in 1977 Mr Wood worked in Buckinghamshire, Devon, Gloucester and finally settled in Shropshire in 1989.

He worked in Wellington and Much Wenlock in mixed practice, though concentrating on the farm side, and joined Shropshire Farm Vets - then Macpherson and O’Sullivan - in 2005.

"I have two adult children, both working in finance and accounting," said Mr Wood, who was born in Chester in 1954.

"Seeing dad with his arm up a cow’s backside soon put them off wanting to follow me!"

But Mr Wood's wife Jane doesn't seem to have been put off, as the couple got married five years ago, and they now live in Telford.

The son of a dairy farmer, Mr Wood says he had lots of encouragement at home, without which his career may not have panned out. And he is even now staying involved in farming one way or another, and was even involved in dealing with the recent avian flu outbreak.

Mr Wood, who qualified at the time James Herriott's tales became well-known, said: "My career in farm practice has seen many changes in both this and in farming.

"I have used my career as a guideline through those years of those changes, in techniques, new medicines, different management and in our day to day lives as farm vets.

"Using my experiences and stories, I have tried to show the public and any aspiring young vets what practice is now like, the joys, the sadness and the heartbreak.

"I have written about mental health issues in the industry, myself affected with depression after working in the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak.

"I have talked briefly about some of the challenges the farming industry now faces, especially if we must become more food self-sufficient."

But he adds that he will never forget the joys of working in the countryside - the scenes one sees, the characters one meets.

"I hope in 'The Quiet Vet' I have given an insight into the changing farm scene and the pleasure it has given me throughout my career in a light-hearted way. So much so that there are other tales I want to tell in a second book in time," said Mr Wood.

He is a keen sportsman, playing county hockey in his younger days, and he follows all sports, especially rugby and football, and does try to play golf.

He also likes to walk and has raised money for Severn Hospice and a charity called Send a Cow (now Ripples) by climbing Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya.

He's written about his mountain climbing experiences in Africa and says he has a passion for Africa. He taught farming to smallholders in Kenya in 2018.

Mr Wood has a stall in the craft tent at Minsterley Show on Saturday, August 20, where the book will be launched.

The book, his fourth, is now available through the website, and on Kindle through Amazon.

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