Farm Call, Firearms, & Free Help
By Dr. Kerry Wink
Published March 9, 2012 @ 6 a.m.
In the veterinary life, you never know when or what emergency will come next. I have seen my fair share of emergencies, but there are some that stand out more than others. Some are serious. Some dangerous. Some unexpected. And some all of the above!
It was the coldest day in February last year. Lee Ann & I were closing down and getting ready to call it a day. Of course, at 5:30 when everything is walked, fed, and closed down is when the phone starts ringing. “Dr. Wink, there’s a client on the phone who says he has a calf needing pulled” Lee Ann called out. After discussing the problem over the phone, both the client and I decided it would be best for me to head out to his ranch. Most days this wouldn’t be a problem. My wife normally assists me in farm calls, but due to sick kids, she was not able to break free. So I did what I’ve learned in this small town to be the next best option….call a friend. This time the lucky winner was Shad. Let me clarify something first…I look at it as not FREE labor, but as quality bonding time between friends. Making memories as my wife always says. Boy was she right!
Picture a windy evening with temps in the low 20’s. Add darkness coming on fast and we have to drive 30 miles out to the ranch. On the way out of town I swing by and pick Shad up who jumps in the truck with eagerness. We both were bundled up with at least three layers of clothes. We arrive at the ranch about the same time the rancher got the cow penned up. All we had to do was to run this lone cow down the alley into the chute and get to work. Sounds simple right? But this was not your typical cow. This cow was swollen & sore, been trying to deliver calf by herself for over 5 hours with no success, and just a wee bit cranky. Some husbands out there may have a really close connection to this level of crankiness, but let’s stay away from that issue. Anyways back to this lovely mama cow. This cow was extremely hot and TRYING to hurt anyone in sight. If anyone got within 30 feet of her, she would charge. After about 30 minutes trying to get her into the alley with no success, the owner decided to use his truck to push her in the alley. Ford vs. cow, steel vs. hamburger, who do you think the logical winner would be? I’ll answer it this way, anyone who says cows are dumb animals is neither a rancher nor a vet! Cow-1, truck-0. After many failed attempts with the truck you can guess the mood of everyone out there in the cold. Language is getting fowl and tempers getting short. Suddenly, and without warning, KABOOM!! A gunshot rings out into the night. You should have seen how fast my free help hit the ground. The gun had been so close Shad thought he had actually been shot. Apparently the rancher had enough of the cow ‘temper tantrum’ and resorted to fire arms. After a few more shots we finally got her into the alley and into the chute. Kids don’t try this at home.
Both Shad’s and my adrenaline was pumping high. We both forgot how cold it really was during the alley way shoot out. However, the warm fuzzy feeling ammo produces wore off pretty quick when it was time to pull the calf. Cold returned full force when I had to shed some of my layers to get the calf pulled. Combining exposed fingers, hands, and arms to a wet, slimy derrière of a cow in freezing temps isn’t my idea of a lovely time. Luckily the pull went fast. I think if I were exposed to the elements any longer, I would have had frost bite on my hands since they were wet. How would I explain cow derriere frost bite to Dr. Edwards? Or even my wife? All the while my trusty free helper stood by my side in nice insulated work gloves and comfy jacket. Can’t find good help anywhere nowadays!
Please know that no animals were harmed in this emergency. Psycho cow & calf are ok. I am frost bite free. However, there was one casualty in this emergency and that was a pair of underwear that had to be thrown away. Be prepared if you get a phone call from me asking for help on an emergency. But always remember that I cannot promise you what will happen. Just ask Shad.