November 13, 2009

A night to remember

IT WAS raining cats and dogs about 10 p.m. one cold and rainy evening about 15 years ago when the phone rang. A desperate voice at the other end was telling me that his cow could not deliver the calf it was trying to have for more than six hours.{{more}}

“Where are you located?” I asked.

“Oh, at Park Hill,” came the desperate answer.

You see, I live just outside of Kingstown, and I thought or was hoping that he meant Sion hill.

So I asked again, “Sion Hill or Park Hill?”

“Park Hill!” was his answer.

“What is the condition of the cow at the moment?” I asked.

“She is lying down and can’t get up,” came the answer. “Could you please help us out? She is my best animal. I reared her from a babe and cannot afford to loose her without a fight.”

I desperately wanted to tell him that I would see the cow early the next morning, but I knew that if he thought the animal was in distress, it was so. He was one of those people who never cries wolf if there was none.

“OK, see you in an hour,” I said.

The drive took about 45 minutes, on dark slippery roads. I was hoping that the rain was just centered around Kingstown, but it was much more severe at my destination.

Even though I grew up in a farming community, it never ceases to amaze me how farmers have little regard for the elements. Be it hot sun, rain or wind, day or night, work will go on.

The farmer had a huge umbrella that he was sheltering me with, leaving himself exposed to the rain. I gently asked him to put away the umbrella, as it was impeding our work.

The cow was lying in a puddle of mud and water and in great distress. The only way to examine her effectively was to lie on my belly in the mud behind her and insert my hand into the passage to try to free the trapped fetus. This I did, and for the next three hours I fought with her, her calf and the rain and mud. Eventually, I was able to untangle the mass of legs, head and other body parts to successfully bring a cute little bull calf into the world.

At the back of my mind all along was the thought of how difficult and time consuming the entire ordeal was. Not being able to see what I was doing I had to depend on my sense of touch, and after battling with the powerful muscles of a cow’s reproductive organs, my hands and fingers were numb and tired.

I decided to satisfy my curiosity by doing one final revision of the reproductive tract before leaving. Low and behold I felt more legs and a head remaining in the uterus. She was having twins.

Delivering the second was a piece of cake compared with the first as there were only two forelegs and not two different sets to contend with.

I completed the job at about 3 a.m., tired, covered in mud and cow manure but with a sense of wellbeing. The look of sheer happiness and contentment on the face of the farmer and his wife was enough to make the entire operation worthwhile, and enough to make me remember that case for the rest of my life.

Note :Twin calves are a rear occurrence in cows. In all of my years of practice that was the first of only two such cases I witnessed.

For further information, contact: Dr. Collin Boyle
Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd.
Tele: 456 4981