New Horizons Writers’ Group: Reflections of a Country Vet

Bob Hirt

It’s really amazing how clear our memories sometimes are when we recall happenings of often more than 50 years ago. Telephone numbers then? No problem; the age and make of our first few cars? No problem either! Perhaps that is why nostalgia of years gone by is rather refreshing. Or, is it truly the way it actually was? While not always true, the inner workings of our brain seem to retain the most positive memories. Nostalgia can be a wonderful thing to keep us moving on as we head into the sunset of our lives.

Just recently, I recalled how farmer Fred Altman and I climbed high up into a hayloft in his barn to pull some rope from various pulleys that helped us deliver a 110-pound calf from a partially paralyzed bovine—at 2:30 a.m. That was on a Wednesday morning, August 12, 1970. I remember every little detail, even the farmer’s “smart-alecky” attitude as he challenged my progress in the delivery of a living, blood-soaked calf that would become part of his dairy herd. It was also part of a friendship that lasted many years. Only, Fred’s gone now.

Then there was the time at Amos Miller’s farm. After several hours of effort by a three-year-old ewe trying to deliver her baby lambs, Amos called for my help. As it turned out there were triplets, a very rare occurrence, and all were making an effort to see the light of day at the very same moment. It was a bit confusing to manually separate, in the dark, which appendage or head belonged to whom. It was a great feeling of success when, after all the internal manipulating, all three finally emerged, alive and well. Amos and I both smiled! I was exhausted; words were not necessary. That, also was a good, good feeling of satisfaction.

Many experiences of being a country veterinarian in Western New York in the mid-seventies bring back similar poignant memories. It’s as though some occurred only weeks ago.

Times change, work changes, health issues arise. Now, living in Arizona for many years, I look back and recall how we just rose to the occasion or the emergency at hand and did what we had to do with sheer determination and bold confidence.

It astonishes me how we’re all so very different from one another, not only in the work we do but in our personalities and our philosophy of life. We’re each part of a much larger picture in the Grand Design of all humanity in that a Supreme Being designed “a few little DNA specks” that merged and ultimately became each one of us, unique and individual in every imaginable way. What a miracle!