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Irons in the fire: The country vet

Paul Marchant for Progressive Forage Published on 01 June 2020
Country Vet

For as long as he could remember, Trevor had wanted to be a veterinarian. So he decided early on he’d do whatever it took to reach the goal.

When he went to college, he fought every natural instinct he had to goof off and screw around. Sure enough, his hard work and dedication paid off, and he was accepted into vet school at Washington State. By that time, age, if not wisdom, and a good girl who was willing to become the wife of a country animal doctor had settled him down enough so vet school turned out to be manageable.

He made it back to his home country in the shadows of the Sawtooths on the banks of the mighty Snake River. It was here where he decided to hang his shingle. At first, his shingle was nothing more than the DR MOO license plate hanging on the bumper of his vet mobile. But still he kept after it, and eventually he got his own little clinic built, just east of the roping arena he’d constructed right behind his house.

It wasn’t fancy, but it was neat, clean and functional. He had a couple pens built with the sucker rod left over from building the arena and a stout little alley leading up to a good old red Thorson squeeze chute he’d salvaged from an outfit that had upgraded to a hydraulic. His new digs had an office with an adjacent exam/operating room where he could take care of the dog and cat spays. He even hired a certified vet technician who was handy and smart as a whip. He figured he could now serve a more diverse clientele. It was all good, at least until it wasn’t.

One afternoon, he picked up his phone and answered a local number he didn’t recognize. To his surprise, it wasn’t an offer for an extended warranty on his vehicle. It was a legitimate client. We’ll call him Mr. Rancher.

“Hey Doctor,” an anxious voice said. “I wondered if you couldn’t check out my bull. My cows should have had babies by now but, so far, we have nothing.”

Not wanting to turn down any good business, Trevor responded with a cheerful response, “Sure. Bring him on over to my place tomorrow afternoon.”

The next day, right on time, a half-ton Chevy with a four-horse bumper pull rolled up to the clinic. After some gentle coaching, the eager new client snaked his trailer back to the alley gate. When the gate opened, out stepped a big, stout 2-year-old Hereford bull. Trevor silently gave a mental pat on the back to his new client. This bull looked a lot better than he expected from a three-cow-two-goat-and-a-llama outfit. His admiration soon turned to consternation when he began his breeding soundness exam. Things didn’t feel quite right under there.

“What’s the history of this bull?” the good doctor queried. “Where’d he come from and what did they tell you about him?”

The proud owner was quick with his answer.

“The guy I bought him from told me they banded him, but they only got the sack. Since he was so big and pretty and still had all his plumbing, they decided to let me have him to breed my cows.”

Trevor gave his new client a quick tutorial on bovine reproduction and expressed his concern that the herd probably would not see any expansion this year. He agreed to check the cows if he’d bring them over the next afternoon.

At the appointed time, the husband-wife rancher team showed up with their herd. As Trevor and his assistant patiently waited out the five minutes it took the husband to back the trailer up to the alley, the wife held the gate and eagerly directed him. It took less than five minutes to, as expected, call all three cows open. It was when they turned the cows into the alley to reload that they discovered Mrs. Rancher had not shut the gate, and the lead cow trotted out onto the road.

“Oh, don’t worry,” Mr. Rancher exclaimed. “She’s gentle as a kitten. The kids catch her out in the field with a bucket of grain all the time.”

The old black cow, however, responded to her newfound freedom with all the gusto of a sailor on his first shore leave in six months. Up and down the road and around the neighbor’s alfalfa field she went. Rather than take time to saddle a horse, Trevor opted for the four-wheeler option. They apprehended her once, only to have her discover another gate had been left open by one of the too many helpers on scene. A tank of fuel and an hour-and-a-half later, the Rumspringa cow was finally captured.

“Well, I thank you for your time, doctor,” Mr. Rancher innocently proclaimed. “Since my bull’s no good and I don’t have a chute, I’ll have to bring my cows back so you can artificially inseminate them. When’s a good time?”

Trevor’s many years of grueling schoolwork had steeled his mind for such a time as this.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll be on the road that day. Here’s the number of a guy I know who breeds cows on a couple big dairies. He’ll dang sure do a better job of settling those cows than I ever could.” end mark

Getty Images.

Paul Marchant is a cowboy and part-time freelance writer based in southern Idaho. Follow him on Twitter or email Paul Marchant.

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