Category Archives: Benefits from close association with animals

Beware The Rooster

While living in the country and raising large animals, I have experienced many ways to become injured. For example I’ve sustained a broken arm after being pitched from a horse and received serious whole body bruising after being run over several times by a mad mama cow and firmly planted in a barbed wire fence. Nevertheless, a friend from Lubbock recently visited with what I thought was a novel animal-inflicted injury.

To back up a bit, our friend Judy Wilkins decided to raise chickens in her backyard in Lubbock. Truly fresh eggs taste much better than store bought ones, making her desire to raise backyard chickens understandable. However with the passage of time, one of the baby chicks that she had bought turned out to be a rooster rather than a hen. I’m sure mistakes can easily be made when sexing baby chicks.

Speedy the Rooster all grown up

The rooster had a pleasing crowing sound during the morning, and Judy decided to keep him for its local color and audio value. What else would a nice civilized lady like Judy do after all, certainly not do away with the animal by making him into a chicken dinner. She named the rooster, Speedy and kept him with her egg laying hens. And a handsome but scheming rooster he had become.

Apparently Speedy as he became larger became increasingly aggressive. Various efforts were made to socialize the bird such as petting and scolding it. But all efforts by the nice and patient Judy and her friends met with very limited success. The rooster proved incorrigible but hope sprung eternal. Speedy became aggressive in “protecting” his hens, flapping and squawking when people entered the chicken coup.

Speedy adopting his aggressive stance

One lovely summer morning Judy entered her chicken coop to retrieve several farm fresh eggs to make into a tasty breakfast dish. In as quick as a wink, Speedy came out of nowhere and attacked Judy’s exposed leg. Like a sewing machine, Speedy left a series of vertical, triangular wounds down her calf as precise and as straight as a seam in a fine garment and for a distance of over half a foot. The blitzkrieg attack lasted brief moments but the damage had been done and proved the aptness of the rooster’s name. Soon blood gushed from Judy’s multiple rooster-inspired wounds and flowed down her leg. I suspect about this time, Judy had lost her inkling for an egg breakfast, although I wonder if a rooster dinner might at some point have crossed her mind.

Regrettably, due to my poor photographic skills the picture I made of Judy’s heavily pecked leg has been lost. Perhaps this omission is just as well. Needless to say, the rooster’s grizzly revenge was not a pretty sight. Judy’s patience proved exhausted following the rooster attack and Speedy was, ahem, re-homed.

I mention this surprising incident and injury in case you might be considering raising chickens to enjoy the delights of farm fresh eggs. While the eggs are tasty and tempting- Beware the rooster!

A Longer View From Medicine Spirit Ranch

When I established my blog many years ago, I hoped a focus on a tranquil rural lifestyle that emphasized animal behaviors, natural beauty, and an attitude of positivity would create a few tranquil moments for my sometimes harried blog readers. Views From Medicine Spirit Ranch also provides the opportunity for me to share my thoughts and ruminations with my wonderful and highly indulgent readers. This blog tries to provide a sense of normalcy that comes from both less stressful rural living and from the close contact wild animals, stock animals and pets afford us.

Come on Rancher Tom, you must know my wants and needs.
What about a Gator ride?
Or a ride in the pickup?
Bandit who not only provided great emotional support and distraction, but also relocated two busy, unhappy professionals to a new retired life in the Texas Hill Country (a story as yet to be fully told)

Well, 2020 has proved to be anything but normal. The Covid-19 pandemic has swept our nation and world, impacting life in ways no one could have imagined. Additionally, we are in the midst of a hard fought presidential election in the USA with rancor unrivaled in recent memory. These two major stressors have unsettled most of our lives and given rise to our existential angst.

One advantage that comes from sitting on a hill in rural Texas is observing the world as it unspools its events on a grand stage. This is not to say we in the countryside are immune to what is going on around us, as such is certainly not the case. Nevertheless, we may not be as constantly bombarded or impacted as severely as those who live in denser population centers or who are more influenced by modern goings. I like to think of myself as a retired cowboy sitting on his hill, viewing the world through a broad lens.

The birth of rational thought occurred well over a thousand years ago with the teachings of the Budda, Confuscius, and Socrates. Each of these great thinkers were willing to depart from established dogma and the comfortable allure of the old ways to establish trust and belief in human rationality. These great thinkers advised trusting in what we can determine, rather than relying on sacrifice, incantations, and the old traditional ways. This rational approach took courage to follow and rattled more than a few cages.

In some ways the establishment of the USA shows a similar trend. Even the American Revolution had about as many people who favored maintaining the American Colonies within the British Empire, as it did revolutionaries, wishing for self-government and American liberty.

Our American experiment has lasted about 250 years and has vacillated between progressive eras (think emancipation of the slaves, women’s suffrage, child labor laws, and civil rights) and periods where more traditional-minded voters needed time to incorporate, assimilate, and at times roll back progressive instincts. Such swings of the pendulum undoubtedly helped to establish a semblance of societal equilibrium.

I view the partisan views of the Covid-19 pandemic in the USA in this light. The coronavirus doesn’t care if the party in power has a “R” or a “D” on its lapel. The coronavirus is entirely nonpartisan in whom it attacks. It is an equal opportunity pathogen. Speaking of the pandemic in partisan fashion simply leaves me mystified.

Worrisome is the fact that science has been disparaged to the benefit of fitting a political dogma with anti-science screeds, disparagement, anti-physician bias (“idiots, self-serving as they make more money if people die”). Even more surprising is that during this partisan year, some people accept such disparagement and even push for avoidance of frustrating mitigation strategies to establish “herd immunity.”

Dr. Paul Klotman, President and CEO of Baylor College of Medicine, took on the Dr. Scott Atlas’ of the world by issuing a prediction, based on current data, that such an approach to abandoning proven mitigation strategies until our population is vaccinated would lead to over 1.2 million American deaths. This calculation is three times the deaths that occurred to Americans during World War II and also during the Spanish Flu pandemic. These are huge and shocking numbers.

Lets also keep in mind that the coronavirus will continue to circulate and science does not yet know how long immunity will last, be it naturally acquired or vaccine induced. Just imagine what such a deluge of Covid-19 patients on our health system would cause.

For starters our hospitals and health care providers would be overwhelmed. People with other illnesses in need of hospital treatment, would not find services available, leading to secondarily related deaths. Routine healthcare and screenings would be diminished. Such an outcome for our country and for our public health strikes this retired physician as totally unacceptable.

Knowing that we all suffer pandemic and political fatigue, I harbor no illusion that I understand how the American election will turn out or the extent of change relating to Covid-19 that will result from the election. While I hope for a healing of our partisan divide along with a strong uniform national policy for mitigating the pandemic, Tuesday’s election will determine our course forward. Following the election let’s hope our citizens can unite behind our common beliefs in America. Let’s be prepared to move ahead.

Our national experience in historical terms is fairly short. We are bound by our amazing Constitution and our Declaration of Independence and much less so by ethnic, religious, and common experiences. Let’s believe in our American system with its rights, freedoms,values, and responsibilities. Lets be prepared to heal the political divisions, no matter who is elected President, and look forward to a brighter future than has been the year 2020.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to write about those rural aspects that fascinate me and look forward tp sharing those stories with my indulgent blog readers.

I must confess to a special distraction that has enthralled both Trudy and me this year- the birth of a new grandson- Teddy O’Neal. There is nothing like new life to provide an uplift for sagging spirits. This gift has greatly benefited our emotional equilibria this year.

The newest calf on Medicine Spirit Ranch (young Teddy in his Halloween costume)

Please continue to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus by wearing a mask, by social distancing, by avoiding crowds, via hand-washing and, yes, DO NOT FORGET TO VOTE.