I have to admit, Dr. Bradford Brown’s book, While You’re Here, Doc, published by Tilbury House, was a lot more interesting than I expected. Once I began reading, I couldn’t stop, spending an afternoon and evening racing through the non-stop astonishing stories – like this one about the final of six cows he was checking for pregnancy.
“I managed to lasso the last cow without much trouble. As I’d done with all the others, I ran for the truck bumper with my end of the rope. Then, somehow, before I got there the cow managed to tangle the rope around my right thigh. Two seconds later she crashed through the flimsy fence of the corral, sending parts of it twenty feet into the air.
“The hysterical beef critter galloped across the pasture, dragging me along. Bouncing like a ball on a chain, I fought to stay face-up, partly to try to reach a sitting position that would allow me to haul up enough slack to free my leg, and partly to avoid shredding my face on the ground. But her constant flight kept the rope as taut as a cable, giving me no chance to reach even a half-sitting position. I didn’t dare dig my other leg into the ground, knowing it would fracture immediately, as we were doing at least fifteen miles an hour. So I tried to flex my free leg to dig my heel in, knowing I’d have to stay on my back in order to survive.
“These thoughts raced through my brain as my body was pummeled by rocks, discarded fence posts, and hummocks of hard earth. It took all my strength and balance to stay on my back, and more than once I got flipped onto my stomach, my face bumping through rocks and dirt. I could feel rocks chipping my teeth and clots of dirt filling my mouth between breaths of precious air. Pain tore through my thigh, and I could no longer feel the lower part of my leg. I was getting pounded into a state of semi-consciousness.”
“About thirty feet from the tree line, a miracle happened. The cow slowed her thundering pace, which gave me my one chance to sit up, grab the taut rope, and dig in my heels. It worked. Even though she caught her breath and surged ahead again, the momentary pause gave Ezra (the farmer) and the hired man time to catch up. They pounced, grabbed the rope, and I freed myself in a flash.
“Relief flooded in, and so did the pain. I felt like I had just crawled out from underneath a steamroller. Blood covered my face and head, my nose was broken, and my right leg was swollen twice the size of the left,” writes Brad.
Amazingly, Brad limped over to the cow and checked her for pregnancy. Then he drove to his office, cleaned his open wounds, and even stitched up some of the cuts. Yes, this is one tough veterinarian!
Then there was the time a horse named Ringo escaped into a deep pond, where it was drowning, only to have Brad strip to his jockey shorts and dive into the pond to rescue the horse. The ice has just gone out of the pond. “After catching my breath from the shock,” he writes, “I swam over to Ringo. He was gasping with the exertion of paddling with all of his considerable might. I slung one arm around his neck and grasped one of the ropes.” He had to dive under water to hook the rope around Ringo’s belly – and the amazing rescue began. After finally hauling the horse onto dry ground and giving it a shot of anesthesia, Brad performed the needed operation – still in his jockey shorts! It’s a terrific story – one of many.
Brad was run down and nearly crushed by a 75-foot tractor-trailer stacked with crates of live chickens, hit in the rib cage by a horse, suffering a smashed left quadricep and torn muscles, and hauled on his belly through a quagmire of mud, decaying table scraps, and feces by a huge pig.
Bradford Brown grew up on a farm in Vassalboro, and like his two brothers, graduated from Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine. He and his brother Phil had a veterinary practice in Belfast. He retired to the family farm in Vassalboro – where, I hope, he’s keeping his distance from these wild and crazy farm critters!
Often, Brad worked all night – consistently being asked, after he’d taken care of the problem for which he’d been called to a farm, to check out other animals and problems – hence the title, While You’re Here, Doc.
And here’s the really good news. After this book was published in 2006, Tilbury House published a sequel by Bradford Brown titled Just One More Thing, Doc. I can’t wait to read that book!