Weekly Posting of the Conservative Cow Doctor


Harold’s Lemonade

When life gives us lemons, we are told to make lemonade. The summer after my first year of vet school, Harold poked his nose into the wheat bin and ate himself to death, so I turned him into lemonade. There were no tears at Harold’s passing as he was a rough riding ranch horse few cowboys rode twice. The only person I can remember saddling him up two consecutive days was Dad, but he had to because he was the boss. (One of the unfortunate perks of being upper management on a family ranch is riding the jug heads other cowboys refuse.) Like most animals who succumb in the barnyard, Harold received a ranch burial—my brother hooked a log chain to his leg and dragged him down to the bone pile.

Two weeks later, when I was home for the weekend, I visited Harold. That winter I had studied anatomy and for display in my future veterinary clinic, I decided to boil, bleach and reassemble the leg skeletons of a cow and a horse. “This will be a perfect use for Harold,” I thought as I walked to the bone pile carrying a meat saw. A shift in the breeze made me question this do-it-yourself project, but imagining the sparkling white skeleton sitting on my future desk, sparked me to creep closer to the fermenting mass of flesh. Harold was not alone and stacked next to him were a couple cows, a yearling steer, a few calves and a sheep, which was odd because we did not run sheep.

I braced Harold’s front leg against my own, commenced sawing and discovered his leg was falling apart faster than I was cutting. I gathered the bones in a bucket and moved to his back leg. Utilizing what I learned on the first leg, I put down my saw and wrenched upward on the rear leg to dislocate the stifle joint. This was a mistake. Harold split open exposing a crawling mass of maggots and rotting flesh. I quickly gathered the bones of his rear leg, scooped up my saw and scooted away without taking a breath.

When I stepped out of the pickup back home, Aussies scampered from every corner of the barnyard and were excitedly dancing and barking trying to see what treasure was in my bucket. My trophy wife on the other hand, neither danced nor barked and was less welcoming of my arrival home. We had not been married quite one year, but she was beginning to understand what Mom meant when on our wedding day she jokingly whispered, “Not only do you get Krayton; you get all his projects too!”

A propane branding torch quickly brought the five gallon bucket to a rolling boil which separated off the flesh. When the bones had cooled to the touch, I laid them on the garage floor to be certain all were there. They were not. In my rush to scavenge a skeleton on a single breath, I misplaced the talus; a softball-sized bone of the hock. As disgusting as it sounds, I had no choice but to search back through the dead pile and this finally brings me to my point.

Much of what we do in the legislature is like digging through the bone pile and I do not relish the idea of doing anything twice. In each of my previous three sessions, we have been bombarded with animal rights legislation with titles such as the “Puppy Mill Bill”, the “Animal Hoarder Bill”, or the “Kennel Registration Bill”. All share the commonality of increasing government regulation relative to citizens. These bills are crafted for weak kneed legislators who cast every vote based on feelings, so it is imperative we kill these bills in committee. (Few politicians have the guts to publically vote against “puppies” on the House floor and the animal rights crowd knows this.) News releases in late May suggest my efforts in Montana’s legislature have been futile.

The USDA modified the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 to now regulate anyone who breeds four or more females and markets their puppies electronically or through the mail. (If any producer does not think this applies to them, the animal rights crowd sees no difference between puppies, kittens, calves, lambs, foals, kids or piglets. You are next!) By decree, a bureaucrat of the executive branch can now enter your home, confiscate your property, and assess you a fine if you do not operate in a manner they deem acceptable. Oh, and by the way, they have yet to actually write the rules for which you will be held accountable. Would one of you progressives please explain to me what you find so wonderful about growing such an intrusive government? But first, if I can find my meat saw, I’ll make us some lemonade.

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