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A Special Farmer Named Jack

Message Suzana Megles
Whether Jack Scott, one farmer in James Herriot's book "The  Lord God Made Them All"  is still among the living, I have no  idea. B ut, I "met" him in an excerpt from  a 1981 McCall's Ladies magazine. Sadly,  this magazine is no longer published,   but I'm glad that I decided to stash it and some other  magazines from this time in case I wanted to review them.  
Well the time has come, and I was pleasantly surprised to find  articles such as this one by James Herriot re Jack the farmer  whose sick animals he tended lovingly and compassionately. 
As a former educator, I feel reading something once is never 
enough unless you are blest with the special gift of immediate
recall.  Well, I certainly am not, and none of us has the luxury
of rereading everything.  B ut I'm glad that I "met" Jack again
and his wonderful farm animal vet, Dr. James Herriot. 
They, especially Jack, restored my confidence in people -though,  he by far, is a rarity. I don't believe that you will find too  many people of his ilk - especially in the farm industry where  we really don't even have too many small farms anymore either. 
Sadly, they are just as rare as Farmer Jack.
Also rare and even non-existent in the US are farm vets like
James Herriot whose specialty was working with sick farm animals. 
Today, in the corporate world of Big Ag- millions and millions 
of chickens, pigs, and dairy cows are kept in cruel confinement.
For the most part, I believe that sick animals are simply thrown
out to die in a pile somewhere-anywhere.
I doubt very much that God had this type of "dominion" over the
animals in mind  when He gave it to us. They are living, breathing,
sentient beings like ourselves. They have the same basic needs
as we do, but sadly, in this meat-lust society - their needs are not
important and not met - only ours. So, in reality, we should not
only blame Big Ag for their suffering.  All of us who daily need 
a " fix" of meat, eggs, and dairy, are complicit in farm animal
suffering as well.  
Thank God for those of us who are vegan or vegetarian.  Each day
is special because we know that we do not add to farm animal
suffering.   And some people at least are trying to cut down on
meat by observing "Meatless Mondays."  Every compassionate act
is important. If we can seriously cut down on animal usage,
perhaps one day there won't even be a need for cafos and the
animals can be returned to small farms where they belong.
Jack's story takes place in Britain where we meet him and Dr.
Herriot on his farm.  Dr Herriot was called to address a number
of his sick farm animals who in these simpler times were on small
farms where they could  breathe in fresh air instead of the dank,
urine and fecal smells of cafo confinement.  They also enjoyed
the warm rays of the sun in spring and summer and were able to
intermingle with their own kind.
This day Dr. Herriot and Jack were tending to a cow who is
infertile because she has endometritis.  The procedure to cure
this condition involved the insertion of a long metal catheter
through the uterine cervix. Right- it doesn't sound  benign, but
obviously it must be done no matter how  unpleasant for the cow. 
Everytime Dr. Herriot would try to insert the catheter, she swung
around violently, sending farmer Jack who had been holding her
tail- smack against the neighboring cow.
This would have precipated some "choice" words from others who
didn't have Jack's wonderful and sunny disposition.  No, he had
the gifts of understanding and longsuffering- so rare to many
of us, including me.
Back to the procedure, a gasping Dr. Herriot told  Jack to hang
on as the Lugol's iodine began to pump through the catheter.  But
as soon as the cow felt the fluid trickling in, she veered and 
Jack was squashed between the two big cows, and one of them
stepped on his toes. Ouch. 
Despite his obvious pain, Jack didn't share Dr. Herriot's dim
view as this being one uncooperative cow.  Dr. Herriot always
marveled at Jack's reactions in such trying circumstances. He
observed :  "Hobbling on his bruised foot, he went to the front of
the cow and put his arms around her neck. 'Ah, you're a grand awd
lass,' he murmured, resting his cheek against the craggy jaw." 
What a special, special man! How many of us with a bruised
foot would have done the same? 
It was obvious that Dr. Herriot looked upon Jack in awe.  Not
only for this gesture toward a very uncooperative cow, but 
knowing that Jack had a deep affection for every creature both
human and animal, and his loving feelings were usually reciprocated
with affection by both.
This man was so kind and good-hearted that he was able somehow to
tackle adverse happenings - whether it was the seemingly bad
diagnoses of Dr. Herriot re his animals or even the  visiting
children who got in his way.  They, as well as his  own two, would
sometimes get in between the cows' legs- often hindering his work,
but he was not provoked. Truly, a man of peace and compassion.   
The next job for Dr. Herriot was treating Jack's bullock who Jack
observed might just have a bit of a cold.   Since the bullock's
temperature was slightly elevated, Dr. Herriot filled a syringe
with the "new" drug -penicillin. He leaned over and gave the hairy
rump the usual quick thump with his hand and plunged the needle in. 
He oberved that on any other farm, treating an animal of this size
could have been daunting and probably would have involved a chase,
but here this bullock did not even rise from his resting position. 
In fact, he continued to chew and looked around with mild interest
as Dr. Herriot  drove the needle deep into his muscle. 
And why not?  This bullock knew that he was loved and cared for. And
then of course he probably expected Jack's loving reponse which
was - "Champion. Good lad, good lad."  And then he scratched the top
of the bullock's head for a few moments before leaving his contended
bullock to continue chewing his cud. 
This man was blest indeed with a heart of gold. His animals were
treated like members of the family, and I believe they all realized
that he was a man of  goodness and kindness.  
Next, Jack took the doctor to see some of his lambs who were wobbling
on their hind legs as they walked.  Two of them even collapsed on
their sides after a few faltering steps.  Dr. Herriot immediately
diagnosed the problem -Copper deficiency, and the disease was called
Swayback.  Jack was puzzled because he said the ewes have had copper
licks to go at all the time.  Well, the doctor told Jack it obviously
was not enough, and the next time they would have to inject the pregnant
ewes with copper halfway through their pregnancy to prevent Swayback
Jack felt relieved to know what the problem was so that as he said-
they can put the problem aright.  Always the optimist- sadly, Herriot
told Jack there was no cure - only prevention. He also noted that 
the wobbly ones would still have a good chance of making it as fat
lambs but for the two lying on their sides -they were already
partially paralyzed. 
The suggestion of putting them down made the almost perpetual smile
of Jack disappear.  This happened whenever there was any mention of
putting any of his animals down.  
He asked if the lambs were suffering.  Herriot said no, he didn't
believe so.  Well then Jack said -that he would keep them and if
they couldn't suck, he would feed them himself even though busy
farmers had little time for efforts as this one. Still, he would
like to give them a chance - pure Jack. 
And not surpringly, as the summer wore on, Herriot noticed that
the two semi-paralyzed lambs were surviving and doing well.  They
still sometimes flopped down after a few steps, but they were able
to nibble the fast- growing grass.  Another testament to Jack's
loving care for all creatures great and small. 
There were two more wonderful accounts of Jack's refusing to accept
the seemingly inevitable.  But each time as when it seemed his
dog Rip's terribly mangled leg would never heal - it did, even though
vet ntervention did not completely do it.  It was Jack's faith and
love which somehow brought the needed healing to a mangled leg.
The last account was of Bramble, a calf afflicted with a circling
disease.  Again  Dr. Herriot's prognosis was grim and, of course,
it was Jack's belief perhaps in the healing powers of God which
ultimately led to Bramble's recovery.  Later, she even went on to
win first prize at the Darrowby Heifer contest because of her
"withering" look. 
I think that finally Dr. Herriot realized that Jack had something
special, and as he had been proven wrong too many times re his
diagnoses, he would probably never again second guess Jack re
the needs of his sick animals.
I enjoyed this excerpt so much I think that it is time for a visit
to my library to pick up James Herriot's  book "The Lord God Made
Them All."
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I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
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