A Mad Cow in Stitches

by Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe


It was time to go home. The surgical suite was polished to perfection, our work was done, and the hot August day beckoned. But just as my coworker and I started for the changing room the phone rang. She passed it to me.

The voice on the phone was emotionally charged and upset, "Bonnie, can you come to the farm? Bob needs you!" It was my friend Sandy.

"What for? What's wrong?" was all I could manage with my mind racing through various scenarios.

Bob and Sandy had a massive family-run farm, with cornfields, apple orchards, and prize milk-producing Holsteins. We socialized when Bob had time, even though I had never forgiven him for the answer he gave me when I asked how he prepared a cow for artificial insemination, or "AI" as they referred to it. I thought it was a sensible question, but Bob looked at me, grinned and said, "Just a little lipstick!"

No bulls roamed around his cows! All the cows were all entered by number into a computer and when the time came to have them bred, he had the AIs done with the best genetic stock. Bob had built a prize herd of Holsteins, who were well known in the farm world. Modern farming with a good old-fashioned hands-on work, that was Bovidae Farm.

So what in the world would they need me for on a Sunday morning? Nurses fill many roles in small towns, so nothing would be a surprise to me.

Sandy explained that Bob's prize cow, Wickie (so named because she was so darned "wicked") had escaped and gotten caught under the silo and badly slit her back. She needed sutures. Bob had all the equipment but nobody could suture. The cow was crazy, and the two veterinarians on call were out on other emergencies. This could not wait! Wickie was a show cow, the best of his Holstein herd.

So they thought, "Ah, Bonnie, the operating room guru! We'll call her!"

I had heard about Wickie and her personality disorder, and I knew this would be a challenge, but I also realized that this was too much temptation to resist. I agreed to go to the farm.

I arrived to find a scene of manure pandemonium! Bob, Sandy, and a farmhand were holding Wickie in a stall. The prize bovine was bleeding, but oblivious to pain. Instead, she was occupied with inflicting pain on humans, and intense pain at that! Manure was splattered all over the stall, Bob had a face full of it, Sandy was almost unrecognizable, and the farmhand was red from pulling on Wickie, who had become more ox than cow. She was one mad, mad, cow!

Bob yanked out a stool, got me up on it, and handed me the sutures. As the other two held the cow, I started to suture, while Bob cut the sutures and poured penicillin into the wound. Wickie spit, kicked, bit, threw herself at us, stopped to get a breath, and started all over again. We were exhausted. It was a long slash to stitch, but gradually we closed the wound.

Bob patted her, she bit him; he gave her water, she spit at him. We were all covered from head to toe in sweat, silage, and manure. When it looked as though she would settle Bob backed us all out of the stall, and closed the gate. Then Wickie turned around, faced us all and spat full force in our faces!

"There, take that!" she was saying.

In a week, Wickie allowed Bob to remove the stitches. She continues on in her aristocratic manner, living a grand life. She refuses to go to prize shows, but since she allows herself to be milked, she is still a valuable resource for the farm.

And now, when any of us hear about mad cow disease, our minds go back to the 10 showers and baths it took to remove signs and smells of our mad cow.

Rate this submission


You must be logged in to rate submissions

Loading Comments