Last week’s article reminded me of the times that Dad tried to patch up various animals. I think that if Dad would have had the opportunity he would have made a great Veterinarian. He always wanted to fix something. One time Dad had pulled a calf and unintentionally broke both front legs. Well, he devised a splint made of a piece of plastic pipe. He split the pipe in half and drilled holes on each of the sides of the split. He carefully placed the broken leg in the pipe then laced up the pipe with twine or was it baling wire? This worked out well as he made the splint longer than the leg so the calf’s weight was on the splint and he could walk with out hurting his legs. He looked peculiar in the barn lot but he did not seem to mind. When the time had come to undo the pipe we had lined up one foot really well- but the other we had it slightly off and the hoof was turned to the inside but he did not know any different and he walked in a satisfactory pace.
We have had horses break their legs and Dad always thought that he could fix them. We were never successful with the horses. If heart would have mattered, in both the horse and Dad it would have worked but heart does not mend broken bones. Putting a horse down was something that Dad had a hard time doing. Mom’s nephew, Charles Crouse, just happened by one time, when Dad knew that a horse had given his all and the time had come for us to give up, as well. Charles was kind enough to help Dad out by doing what had to be done. I always appreciated him for that act of compassion for both Dad and the horse.
Many years ago in the cold freezing weather and there was ice on the ponds, a neighbor’s calf had fallen through the ice. Dad was with the ranch foreman and saw what had happened and he decided that they needed to save the calf. Knowing that it was one of the ranch hands calf and at that time the ranch hand needed every calf and could not afford to lose one needlessly. Dad jumped into the freezing pond in his Skivvies and saved the calf. The calf survived the ordeal.
Once in while, if a pregnant cow died, Dad would try to save the calf by doing a c-section to get the calf out. A neighbor lady called me and wanted to know if I could do a c-section and retrieved a calf as the cow had died but they could tell that the calf was still alive. I made a quick call to Dad to ask how to do it and how much time I had to do the deed. I was telling Dad the situation and when I asked about the time. I will never forget the hesitant tone in his voice, and his words. He said, “Well, how long can you hold your breath, little girl?” He certainly had a way of letting me know just exactly what he thought. I must say that I was sadly relieved as I was not sure that I could have done what they were asking me to do. Where are our husbands, anyway?
Another time we had a cow down and Dad fixed up a sling so she could stand. It was attached to the rafters of the barn and she could swing since she had lost control of her back legs. Thinking that we were doing her a favor and she should be grateful, she was in fact, angry. And every time I went in to the barn, she would try to hit me. The sling was a success. She got to where she could stand and walk on her own and it was time to turn out her out to pasture. She was doing really well and was minding her own business when storm came through and lighting struck her and killed her dead. It sometimes makes you wonder if all the time we had worked with her and put up with her nasty deposition, if it was really worth it, not to mention her point of view. But who knows- Hindsight is 20/20.
I have heard that some veterinarians think that some of our home remedies are ‘barbaric’. And maybe they are, sometimes. But most of the time we try to do what is best for man and beast.