A Friend of the Flock: Tales of a Country Veterinarianby John McCormack
The two-way radio crackled out a one A.M. emergency call, sending young veterinarian John McCormack bumping down yet another Alabama dirt road to save a downed farm animal. He'd be up just as early the next day to extract the tonsils of a temperamental chihuahua and rassle a flock of sheep. In this beguiling sequel to his beloved Fields and Pastures New, McCormack relives more great moments in his career as a country animal doctorand renews our acquaintance with the local folks as they hash over the doc's exploits at the local barbershop. Brimming with home-spun wisdom and great humor, A Friend of the Flock is a heartwarming portrait of life in the Deep South.
Since he moved to Alabama's Choctaw County some 35 years back, McCormack has seen to most every barnyard complaint: ovine, bovine, and otherwise. When he is not busy castrating bulls and deworming sheep, he can be found on porcine beautification errands, plucking bones from dogs' throats, letting the gas out of a cow's stomach, or, in one sad episode, frightening a parakeet to death. He's no James Herriot: He flashes anger, is fast to pigeonhole people, he can be a tad superior to the local rubes, and can display an irksome primness (hiccuping is for him a "rude noise," liquor the cause for a raised eyebrow). And the animals here get rather less narrative attention than the motley neighbors who are both his joy and his bane: Clatis Tew and Speed Whitted, Vester Crowson and the self-taught ex-vet Carney Sam Jenkins, dispenser of elegant homespun medical nuggets ("A sheep is born lookin' for a place to die"). Each of 25 chapters tells of an incident in his days afield and in his clinic; from each he has drawn a moral with which he tidies up the story, and more often than not they feel obvious or condescending: "People who don't tend to the needs of their animals shouldn't be allowed to own them" or "There's a good lesson to be learned from dreaming too big and at the wrong time."
To be read more as a cautionary tale for aspiring rural vets than as a warmhearted peek at a country doctor's tribulations.
- Crown Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.26(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.21(d)
Meet the Author
Dr. John McCormack is Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia. He lives in Athens, Georgia.
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