To Turn a Cow Loose

One usually hears more about the problems of catching a cow and holding a cow than about turning one loose. But there is definitely a trick to letting one go.

My veterinarian husband was on call on New Year’s Day. Now I know that New Year’s Day is way back there in your rearview mirror. After all, in our south Georgia back yard, the cherry tree is budded out like a bright pink cloud having forgotten all that cold weather that burst one of our faucets and finished off the bougainvillea. But I haven’t forgotten New Year’s Day.

It started out so nice and cozy. Charles had been out in the night treating a dog with diarrhea so he snoozed a little extra. I love to cook breakfast and this was a rarity, having time to linger over both the cooking and the eating. I cooked bacon, eggs, grits, and toast with mayhaw jelly. Charles D joined us for a piece of toast. He’s not a big breakfast eater, but he loves mayhaw jelly. Just as he left, the phone rang. It was Charles’s tech and I heard Charles saying he’d be right there. So the leisure was over.

He didn’t appear again until late afternoon. I knew at once something had happened. He looked just a bit grayer than usual and was grinning sheepishly like someone who’s backed into a telephone pole.

He told me what happened. He’d been called to treat a down cow over in Decatur County. She had a load of parasites, he diagnosed, and needed a dewormer and vitamins. He had taken young Nathaniel, a fairly new tech-in-progress from the office because the owner wasn’t able to do much, and he needed someone to help. The cow was in an open pasture and, as reported, down. As he was putting the rope around her neck, she stood up and pulled back against the rope choking herself back into a down position. Nate kept the rope tight and Charles gave her the needed injections.

Charles said he was explaining to “Nate” that releasing the cow could sometimes be a bit tricky and for him to step back. I’ve heard him myself preparing for this very thing. “Don’t release the rope until you’re ready to get out of the way,” he has said so many times. And this time, too.

But there comes the time when one opens the door to trouble. He released the rope and stepped back quickly. But the cow was quicker. She charged him with head down and hit him full in the chest knocking him winding, with hat going one way and glasses the other.

“I lay there, unable to speak. Nate was hollering, ‘Doc, you okay?’ And I finally mumbled, “Not yet.”

As they travelled back toward Grady County with Nate driving, Charles was nauseated, and stuck his head out the window to feel the cool air. He says he asked Nate if he knew where the Bainbridge hospital was, in case he passed out. Nate hadn’t experienced many emergencies and certainly not one involving an old doc and a cow. He turned almost as white as “the old Doc,” I think!

But they didn’t go to the hospital. Praise the Lord, Charles was okay. Once he got his bearings and was able to breathe normally, he was just a grateful, very grateful, man. So he’d returned to the animal hospital and worked a couple more hours on emergencies the other tech had taken in while he was gone.

He’s had no ill effects other than a small sore spot on the edge of his sternum. And, as you may imagine, the story, has entered his log of tales to tell.

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