You have heard that it takes a village to raise a child. Well it takes a highly skilled – well-functioning – energized – compassionate team to take care of all the needs of a cow-calf operation. Beef geneticists, nutritionists, forage specialists, ag economists, cowboys, and veterinarians are just a few of the team players. So let’s talk about our vet and his team – Dr. Michael Allen and his assistants Rachel Huff and Jill Wilson from Crockett Vet Hospital in Crockett, Texas.
The first time I met Dr. Allen was a very cold winter day when one of our bulls had gone off his feed – head down – temp was high (I am not sure you really want to know how we know that – but we have ways). It was apparent he was one sick boy. We took him in to Dr. Allen where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Now that is pretty rare for a bull – but if you ride with this outfit for long – you will find that “I’ve never seen that” or “I’ve never had that happen before” are common remarks to many happenings here on the ranch. Dr. Allen kept him – treated him – and saved his life. Instantly a new hero had risen in my books.
Every rancher will tell you that having a good relationship with your vet is critical. Relationship?!?! I think this clinic thought I was moving in the first few months of our new “relationship”. Those first few months that Dr. Allen took over as our vet was like a bad soap opera – critical care – emergencies – life and death scenarios. We had calving issues, prolapses, an injured calf from a coyote attack, and an anthrax scare (NOT). Dr. Allen said that his life had changed dramatically after he met Brandon and I (I am pretty sure he did not mean for the better). And he felt strongly that we deserved our very own reality show. Even when I went to pay my bill – the ladies at reception said “this is the one with the novel”.
The vet helps us design our vaccine protocols. Simply – these are the preventive vaccines that your vet feels are important for your environment – vaccines that prevent diseases that are suspect in your area – issues you might have or could deal with in the near future. In the Spring, our focus is on the calves and the vaccinations they will receive. In the Fall, our focus is on the cows and the bulls. They all receive parasite control several times a year as necessary.
And then there are the routine ranch visits – like this past Friday. The heifers that have been bred for the first time had to be preg tested – Fall vaccinated – and a parasite control administered. Then our replacement heifers had to be Brucellosis vaccinated – Fall vaccinated – tagged – branded – and parasite control administered.
No sooner had we finished our “routine” visit than I was back at Dr. Allen’s office with a cow that was limping. She was placed in a hydraulic squeeze chute and had to be turned on her side so Dr. Allen could x-ray her hoof.
This young cow had been in a pasture where a house had been torn down. We had asked the construction crew to go over the grounds with magnets and be sure any and all metal be removed from the premises. But the x-ray showed a nail embedded in her hoof.
The nail was removed. A block was placed on her hoof and the hoof wrapped so she would not place weight on the section of her hoof that the nail had to be removed from so it could heal properly.
The cow is back home – feeling so much better – perfectly calm – not the least bit traumatized. I could not make it a day without Dr. Allen and his staff. That vet office always acts with urgency – the animals are always treated with respect and compassion. They are on call 24-7 (I know I have been there at 2:00 AM). And they have been by my side through some real ranch drama with the most encouraging words and assistance. Couldn’t we all take a page from the ranch journal – stand by each other – be there when needed no matter the hour – no need for angry words or accusations – act with compassion – assist with your area of expertise.
Hats off to Dr. Allen and everyone at Crockett Vet Hospital – thank you for everything – thank you for being the great team you are – thank you for being part of our team. As I have said before – the hours are too hot – too cold – dirty – gritty hard work. But it is our team that works together – holds this operation together – and usually with some hilarious story – a little teasing – and a lot of laughter as the glue. Of course, all large animal vets have to have a sense of humor. So Dr. Allen would agree – no matter whether it is an office call or ranch call – most stories begin and end with one of our cowboys – another team-mate – Brandon.