Through the Fence 9-28-09
We mothers sometimes get the idea that we are indispensable. When others try to help – our husband, kids, hired hands or friends – we have a hard time delegating jobs. But sometimes, we have no choice. A few weeks ago, I was recuperating from a minor surgery. My good friend, Brenda came in from out of town and stayed with me until I could get back on my feet. She is not totally a city girl but is unaccustomed to the various challenges of ranching life. She was in for a treat.
When Brenda and my children went out to feed one morning, they found a baby goat lying down alone with one of its back legs twisted in an awkward angle. The kid goat must have slipped under the gate panel to frolic in an open pasture; unaware of the danger it was exposing itself to – namely a very curious 1,000-pound 4-year-old gelding. Apparently the horse stepped on the kid’s foot and crushed it. Brenda called me out to take a look. I decided to call the vet who, thankfully, lives right down the road.
By the time he arrived later that afternoon, I had already gone back to bed. Brenda met with him and watched as he carefully cleaned and medicated the goat’s foot and wrapped it in sticky vet tape. He was not optimistic that the hoof could be saved but did what he could. Brenda was so impressed that he would make a house call that she unwittingly offended him by saying, “Wow, you’re like a real doctor!”
“Ma’am,” he answered, “I am a real doctor – a doctor of veterinary medicine.”
He advised her to pen up the kid and its mother and twin sister in a trailer so we could watch over the injured baby. Right as Brenda and my teenage daughter, Lucia, went to put the goats into the trailer, there was an unforecasted downpour. That really complicated the move. The nanny goat had no interest in climbing into the stinky trailer in the pelting rain even though her babies had already been placed inside. Brenda grabbed the stubborn nanny by the horns, tugging, and Lucia grabbed her by the tail and twisted, trying to get her to budge. This wrangling went on for several minutes, with the sound of the goats’ bawling reverberating off the metal walls and ceiling of the wet trailer. Finally, the nanny stepped up into the trailer. Brenda bailed out and slammed the door shut. She was dripping wet but feeling like a real rancher.
Thinking she was done for the afternoon, she started for the house. As she did, she glanced over her shoulder for a moment toward a stack of metal fencing pipe, right as three, tiny newborn kittens washed out onto the concrete slab in a gush of rain water. She felt sorry for them; they were obviously only a day or two old at most. They looked so pathetic that she couldn’t turn away. She scrambled over the wet pipes trying to find the little kitties and rescue them. She looked around for a few minutes, hoping they would reappear. Thinking there were probably a few rattlesnakes lurking under all those pipes, she decided not to continue her search, blindly sticking her slender hand into each pipe and feeling for a tiny wet kitten.
While this entire hullabaloo was taking place, I was sleeping blissfully thanks to the Vicodin my doctor had prescribed. I hated that she had to deal with all this without me, but in my condition, I wouldn’t have done her much good. The next morning, when I heard the full report, I couldn’t help but smile, and say, “Welcome to my world!”
The kittens survived and now live with their wild mama, living on the rats and mice in our barns. The baby goat’s leg finally healed. Unfortunately, the good doctor’s antibiotics and carefully wrapping was not enough to salvage the damage done by the horse. After several weeks, the dead tissue sloughed off. The little goat walks with a marked limp but otherwise completely recovered. I couldn’t have done any better in those difficult circumstances, I’m sure. If I didn’t know before, I know now – I’m not irreplaceable.
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