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A Riding Shotgun Note

When I started this blog a couple months ago, I told you, my readers, I would include some stories about my veterinarian husband along the way. I haven’t yet done that. Thinking that I probably should start out with something pretty mild, I chose a short snippet from an old journal. This was written back in the days when our own children were about grown and no grandchildren had come along yet–when I could ride shotgun with my veterinarian and enjoy some of the interesting scenes he encountered every day.

June, 1992–Last night we’d planned to go to a play in Thomasville, but it didn’t work out that way. Charles called at 5:15, said he needed me to go to Emory Stone’s with him. I knew then we wouldn’t be able to get ready in time for the play. I knew it even more surely when he called back and said he had to deliver a calf in north end of the county before going to Mr. Stone’s. Later, as we ate sandwiches on our way to Emory’s he filled me in on what had happened with the cow.

He had to tranquilize the cow in sudan grass as high as his own head, wait for her to “go down,” find her in the tall grass, figure out how to tie her up, cut one leg off the dead calf, and reposition it, then push, strain and jack it out. All this with only the one man there to help him. I understood why the smells emanating from his coveralls demanded open windows even on a sultry, hot night.

Driving into Emory Stone’s is always a pleasure. A good hard road ambles through woods and meadows, then suddenly turns steeply down into even darker woods. It’s a little bit like north Georgia to me, the curves and the dips. As we meandered up and down and around the lily-studded pond we looked for a deer to be grazing in one of the little open patches or under the protection of willows and scrub oak. We never saw one when I was along, not a deer or an alligator, nor a coyote, though all were seen by Emory and sometimes by Charles at other times. Once, Charles told me, a coyote had gotten caught in the fence and was found by Emory’s son well after it had died. Poor thing!

On the far side of the pond and up a hill where wild magnolia bloomed we came upon a herd of Hereford cattle watching us curiously. True to his word, Emory had left the calf requiring attention in a corral at the foot of a grassy knoll. It took only a few minutes for Charles to maneuver the calf into Emory’s cattle chute. I was the “tail breaker,” meaning I held the tail straight over the 500-pound calf’s back while Charles examined, performed surgery, and sprayed the affected part to repel flies and gnats. The calf only complained mildly once or twice.

It was almost dark as we back-tracked across the dam and past perfect spots for deer to graze, although they weren’t. Pink drifts of sunset clouds were reflected in the water. Going through the low area with woods on either side we plunged into night darkness, then as we came out in the broad meadow again, it was light enough to see grasses blowing in an evening breeze, to see the waning sunset pink wash the sides of pine trunks in the distance.

Katydids in the trees, and crickets in the grass sounded off in waves rising and falling. I thought about the play we’d missed. It couldn’t have been as good as all this.


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