A Friend of the Flock: Tales of a Country Veterinarian

A Friend of the Flock: Tales of a Country Veterinarian

by John McCormack
     
 

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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

Overview

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 doctor—and 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1963, McCormack (Fields and Pastures New) settled in Chactaw County, Ala., and, with a business-minded wife to handle the paperwork, set up a veterinary practice. In this often amusing book he chronicles his adventures proving his worth to the locals, especially the resident "homemade veterinarian," who ribs the young doctor about his state-of-the-art veterinary school training and claims to know a better way to do everything. Working out of a makeshift office in his home, McCormack treats animals with common and uncommon ailmentsa Chihuahua with tonsillitis, a hog that needs a facelift, a bull that goes to the emergency room of the local hospital for an X-ray. He also runs the countywide rabies clinic, where his clients are the proud owners of "coonhounds, foxhounds, squirrel hunters, bird pointers, watchdogs, and biscuit grabbers." He takes it in stride when people laugh at the mistakes of a "young greenhorn," and within a year he has such a successful practice that he's able to construct a clinic building. A candid and refreshingly unsentimental memoir. (Oct.)
Library Journal
McCormack's tales of his life and veterinary practice in Alabama follow the successful Herriot formula. However, most of the people and animals with whom he deals are a good bit less charming than Herriot's are. Charles Kahlenberg has a clear voice, but his heavy country accent seems more appropriate to cowboy Western scripts. Anecdotes filled with Bubba and Billy Bob characters are reminiscent of a downscale Green Acres. Most listeners will have difficulty finding much empathy with/for this vet and the majority of his neighbors. One learns little about his wife, Jan, who seems principally important as his assistant, or about any of his pets. This will interest those thinking of practicing veterinary medicine in the rural South and those who like to listen to country yarns. Most Herriot devotees will be disappointed. Recommended only for the most exhaustive collections of animal stories.Carolyn Alexander, Brigadoon Lib., Salinas, Cal.
School Library Journal
YAAs heartwarming and captivating as Fields and Pastures New (Crown, 1995), this sequel continues the early career of the first veterinarian of Choctaw County (AL). The home folks welcome the McCormacks, who readily become treasured members of the community. Sense of place; love; and caring of family, neighbors, and friends (human and animal) shine through in these stories that are both funny and sad. One home visit requires that Doc operate on a pig's face to remove a tumor. The surgery goes well, but the sow remembers who had given her that long needle. When Doc returns later that week to remove the sutures, the pig refuses to let him anywhere near her. Townsfolks refer to that event as Doc's first sow facelift. YAs who discover this American soulmate of James Herriot will ask for McCormack's earlier book, and will keep an eye out for his further adventures.Judy Sokoll, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Kirkus Reviews
McCormack's (Fields and Pastures New, 1995) rural, deep South veterinary practice provides a wealth of anecdotes, which he relates in a crusty, quick-tempered style.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780517706121
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/16/1997
Pages:
266
Product dimensions:
6.26(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.21(d)

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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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