I’ve shared several of my Riding Shotgun bits and pieces–stories about our own animals, about my veterinarian husband in the early days and not so long ago. Today’s snippet is from quite a few years back before he had access to fine young technicians all the time.
I have to admit. Most of my rides with Charles were not because he really needed me. He invited me along, or I invited myself, because that was how I could get to see him during his over busy, very long days. Or he’d invite me because he wanted me to see something special. Once it was a night time ride along a road where he’d often seen deer, and he knew how I longed to see those beautiful creatures. But of course they stayed completely hidden whenever I was along! Another time it was to show me an old log house similar to ours, though not bricked over nor changed from its original state. One of the best things about that house, unoccupied and standing silent and lonely, was an enormous liveoak tree butting against its back doorstep. Sometimes it was to see the moon when it was high and full, other times to see a brilliant south Georgia sunset. But there were times when he did actually need me and that was usually a thrill to me, to be needed!
I was somewhat dubious the night he proposed I help him at Mr. Emory Stone’s the next morning. He failed to make clear what I’d be doing.
Mr. Stone was uncomfortably overweight and had bad knees. He really couldn’t help much but usually had the cow or bull confined in a pen ready for “Doc.” However, if any other handling were necessary, Mr. Stone either had to get someone to help or ask Doc to. He did usually stand by and observe the treatments and be there to drag his check book out when all was finished. This time he was unable to be present and had not provided any helping hand.
“I’ll tell you just what to do,” said Charles as we started out. “It won’t require a lot of strength, just patience and fortitude.”
I beamed. He thought I had patience and fortitude! How nice! Sure, I would go and do whatever icky thing it was he wanted.
Mr. Stone lived far back from a paved county road along a sandy road that wound and dipped through groves of sweetgum and oak and low places where cypress proudly rose above their clusters of funny knees. The road was an absolute delight. Sunlight filtered in dancing splotches on the road ahead and every curve revealed a surprise of more trees, rolling pasture, light beyond dark woods, a tall white heron looking uneasy at the sound of our truck, her stance one of perfect readiness for flight.
“What exactly are we doing to this bull?” I asked as we started across a dam with a hill beyond. The water was a dark grey but reflected the bright morning sky.
Before answering me, Charles waved to the shallow wned of the small pond and said, “That’s where Mr. Stone found a coyote caught in the fence a few years back. Pretty sad. They’re a menace to cows but that was a very bad way for one to go.”
We were heading up a rise and when we started down the other side, we could see the cow pen. I repeated my question concerning what we were doing to the bull whose bulk I could see rising above the confining fence.
“We’re going to check to be sure he’s a good bull,” said Charles. “It’s important, you know, whether or not a bull can produce. Otherwise, you’d best make hamburger of him.”
I felt a queasiness in my stomach. Just how was this supposed to work? Queasiness was followed by a surge of anger. He should have let me know what I was getting into! But then I clenched my lower lip remembering that I had patience and fortitude. It was too late to back out.
And I held–steady and firm. I held, for as long as it took. I held–whatever I was asked to hold for however long, though I did close my eyes tightly! I gasped a few times and held even harder. I held for all I was worth!
When we came back into town Charles said, “Let’s grab some breakfast at the Town House. You deserve a good one after that workout.”
At first I thought I couldn’t eat a bite. But I surprised myself. After a good scrubbing in the bathroom my healthy appetite returned. After all, this was my pay for being the “holder.”