It's not that easy ­ really


Doc and 'Jimmy Stewart' get unwanted advice from blowhard

Doc and 'Jimmy Stewart' get unwanted advice from blowhard

Iguess one of my favorite things about being a veterinarian is helpingin the process of bringing a new critter into the world.

After more than 10 years and thousands of deliveries, it still stirsa special sentiment within me.

It must be a strange thought in a little calf's mind to look up and seea big nose, mustache and glasses as the opening act of the play of life.But as with most things, I don't get to see them unless there's a problem.

'Average afternoon'

It was an average afternoon when the phone rang. A local rancher's heiferwas having trouble calving.

This guy reminded me of Jimmy Stewart. He had the same sound to his voiceand moved his head and neck like Mr. Stewart did. It made it a lot of funto be around him. I've been here long enough to know most of the peoplearound who have livestock, and I know how they like to do things. When thisfellow can't get the calf out himself, this means it is going to be a doosey.And sure enough, it was.

Twisted, upside-down mess

The calf was twisted and presenting upside down. For those of you whohave not had the privilege of trying to pull a 75-pound baby out of a small-hippedheifer, I will give you a couple of analogies: it is sorta like doing acarburetor job through the tailpipe or pulling a marshmallow out of a piggybank.

We got this heifer in the chute and started the tedious process of straighteningout the calf. I worked on it for about a half an hour and then got a totalbody cramp and had to take a breather.

Upon seeing this, Jimmy just hopped in and spelled me. He pulled andtwisted, moaned and sputtered, and finally tagged off to me again. By now,the heifer had layed down and was not even attempting to help by pushing.We were both covered with that sticky cow juice that comes with birth. Itis God's WD-40, and boy is it slick! In fact, if you step in sticky cowjuice in an unfocused moment, you will slide like you are on ice and makeall those arm-flinging motions that are required to maintain balance andmake you look as old as you are getting.

Hair-trigger temper

After you have done this for a while, your temper is on hair trigger.

Over the years, I have adapted the ability to do this while answeringquestions from other clients lining up appointments for tomorrow and talkingon the phone. Mr. Stewart, on the other hand, was used to doing this withoutspectators. Most of the time, at the vet clinic, someone will be standingaround with the "Cliff Claven" mentality. This, of course, meansthey have seen it all and done it all. This was no exception. Some fellowthat I had not seen before or since showed up and started watching.

It was Jimmy's turn again when this guy walked up. Mr. Stewart was engulfedin one of those heavy straining moments when this spectator suddenly says,"I had an aunt who could just walk out into the field and pull oneof those things out."

Now I have heard those things ever since I started being a vet. It bouncedright off of me. I just figured this spectator had no idea what he was talkingabout and was giving us a demonstration of his ignorance. I had no ideathat Jimmy was paying any attention at all. Just about the time Mr. Stewarthad the calf untwisted, he lost his grip and the calf recoiled to the veryposition it was in when we started about an hour ago. Frustration was atan all-time high. I told him to take a break and let me have another shotat it.

Once again, the spectator started. This time he said, "She couldhave really done good if she would have had one of these fancy things tocatch the cow in."

Once again, it just bounced off me. But much to my surprise, when I lookedup at the normally mild-mannered Jimmy, his face was beet red and a puffof smoke was coming out of each ear.

"It's not that easy, you see," Jimmy said with a vintage Stewartaccent. "This calf is all twisted up, you see."

If you will just picture Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life,"you will see in your mind just exactly what this guy looked like.

"If she is so good at this, why don't you just go and get her?"he finally said.

Upon hearing this, the spectator turned and left. I have no idea whohe was. I don't know if I was just simpled-out or if it was really thatfunny, but I got to laughing so hard I had to quit pulling and just laythere in the "cow juice" producing that laugh that doesn't evenmake any noise.

Jimmy apologized saying, "I hope I didn't run off any of your clients."

I told him not to worry.

We finally got the calf out and went on with life. I often think aboutthat moment when I am just thinking about Jimmy standing there, coveredwith the slickest substance in the world, even in his hair, making it stickstraight up, red-faced, sleeves rolled up, frustrated beyond words, tellingthe spectator to just go and get that aunt. Oh, by the way, she never showedup.

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