Friday, January 8, 2010

Just Before the New Year 2010

Friends and Family,

Wanted to write a bit about the month of Dec., the great state of Georgia and doctoring. Oh! and to share some cool pictures I snapped along the way.

First, I must give Georgia a kudos bar because it's northern countryside is quite beautiful in the winter. Not exactly what one would expect when thinking about the colony founded by prisoners (US history tid-bit). My older and handsomer cousin Chad picked me up from Chattanooga airport on a Monday, Dec 21st, and he did not waste any time introducing me to the lifestyle of a Georgia "farm" foreman. In Texas, we would call the place a ranch because their only aim is to raise and sell cattle, but those Georgians do things a bit differently.

So we drove around in his Dodge 2500 4x4 "bull" of a truck, checkin' on the feed supplies, assessing the forage quality of certain pastures and monitoring various farm hands as they worked running errands. My boots didn't stay clean for long though. The next few days we were out working cattle on horseback, rummaging around abandoned shale mines for steel pipe that would look mighty perrty as cattle fence and sometimes just splashing in mud/manure for the fun of it. Supposedly the community had received a fair share of rain just before I arrived, and that Georgia red clay had said, "Enough is enough!" and quit absorbing it.

Chad decided to be nice to his hands on Christmas Eve and Day so we were the only hands on deck then, maintenance work mainly: doctoring calves, putting out hay to cattle in their respective pastures, keeping an eye out for varmints and bandits alike. If Chad-a-had his gun sighted in like he should-a, we would've bagged ourselves a coyote, but that rascal lived to see another day! Our electricity cut off early Christmas morning so we made do with a fire and cold cereal.

Here's a bit on "Doctoring": I was surprised when I first heard the word and wondered what kind of mountain folk we were going to find out back of the ranch who would need my feeble skills as a medical student! That was not the case though, and I'll try to explain it to the best of my limited rural Georgian knowledge. It's a term they use for fixin' something, whether it's sophisticated medical treatment at a big-timy hospital in the Houston Medical Center, painting a swath of tar on an exposed tree wound, or (in this case) doing veterinary work on cows. Here is the usual patient-cowboy procedure: my cousin would show each calf into his examination room, via horse and rope, perform a focused history and physical, then devise a treatment plan (usually a shot of medicine in the neck or a pill down the throat) with a follow-up appointment in a week. It seems to me that they should call it "Veterinaryin' " but I guess that's a mouth full. If Chad ever got tired of the cattle business, I would recommend pediatrics to him :).

Anyone who ever said "Cowboy'n is a glamorous life" should spend a week out here with my Cousin. There's lots of dirt, sweat and danger involved, but the boys in Fairmount, GA at least have some nice scenery to glance at in between rolling out hay, mendin' fence line and hog-tyin' calves so as to doctor'em. And for some it's a satisfying life and the only one they'll settle for.

Overall, I had a good time and will always remember this unique Christmas.

Love you guys,