The Hero Of The Herd: More Tales From A Country Veterinarian

The Hero Of The Herd: More Tales From A Country Veterinarian

by John McCormack
     
 
For the thousands of readers who fell in love with Doc McCormack and the farmers, cattlemen, and moonshiners of Choctaw County in Fields and Pastures New and A Friend of the Flock, The Hero of the Herd is like coming home to old friends. There's Carney Sam Jenkins, the county's amateur vet/taxidermist, with his stock diagnosis of "kidneyitis"; Bob "Sinkin"

Overview

For the thousands of readers who fell in love with Doc McCormack and the farmers, cattlemen, and moonshiners of Choctaw County in Fields and Pastures New and A Friend of the Flock, The Hero of the Herd is like coming home to old friends. There's Carney Sam Jenkins, the county's amateur vet/taxidermist, with his stock diagnosis of "kidneyitis"; Bob "Sinkin" Jenkins, a 250-pound tough-as-nails hog farmer and "Olympic champion fainter" who can barely stand the sight of blood; and Goat, the mailman who doubles as the town gossip. There are new folks too—the McCormacks' infant son, Paul; J.B. and Pool Do, the best hired hands in the state of Alabama; and one especially fractious piglet named Fred. There are even some big changes—like the new color television behind the counter at Miss Ruby McCord's Grocery and Service Station. But it's still the same Choctaw County, where late-night calf deliveries keep Doc up past his bedtime, where the local barbershop is the place to catch up on all the news, and where your best friends and neighbors are always just a holler away.

Of course, our coveralls were wet and covered with mud, and, as expected, there was a problem with one hard-core resister. That particular hog had apparently decided he wanted no part of the surgical procedure and had somehow evaded capture by scaling the short fence and retreating back down the hill into the swamp.
        
Suddenly a grim-faced Buck beelined toward the escapee, who was taking a breather in the deepest, gummiest part of the lot. When he came to within about ten feet of the porker, Buck made a flying tackle and landed atop the surprisedpig. The resulting chaos was worthy of national television coverage. In spite of their giggling, Everett and John piled on the wallowing duo. In the process of trying to jump and run through the mud, I lost both of my knee-high rubber boots. When it was all over, we stood staring at the scene for several minutes. Never had I seen such a sight. All we needed were several fires burning, smoke spiraling upward, and the scene would have been reminiscent of a Civil War movie not long after the Yankees had marched through the farmsteads outside Atlanta.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With 30 years of successful veterinary practice behind him, McCormack (A Friend of the Flock) has a wealth of stories about people and animals in rural Choctaw County, Ala. Back in the 1960s, McCormack was the first vet in the county; he had a big-animal practice, treating everything from household pets to cows, pigs and horses. Most of his clients were small farmers. McCormack recounts his first cesarean surgery of a young heifer, during which tough-talking bystanders became nauseated and fainted; he describes the rescue of a calf and its owner from a deep gully. Colorful characters abound: Carney Sam Jenkins, taxidermist, amateur vet, expert on "hollertail"; Miss Ruby McCord, proprietress of the local grocery; Goat, the mailman and purveyor of gossip. There are tales of searching deep woods at night for a sick cow and the curious case of the sunburned piglets and the evil Fred, runt of the litter. McCormack is a firm believer in the value of a "good guffaw," and he provides plenty of them with his lively anecdotes. Many of the stories have as much to do with the idiosyncrasies of small-town life as they do with the treatment of animals. But the author manages to convey, without giving way to a saccharine idealism, the pleasures of living in a place where people don't lock their doors. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
YA-While this return to Dr. McCormack's veterinarian practice in Choctaw County, AL, in the 1960s will delight fans of the first two books, readers unfamiliar with them will still enjoy this addition to the series. The author's reminiscences continue to be punctuated with plenty of humorous events and with a lot of good-natured fun poked at his own attempts at healing a wide variety of large farm animals along with some dogs and pigs. The vet's growing understanding of people and animals becomes more apparent as he narrates each successive experience. His growing maturity and wisdom in dealing with human, bovine, and various other types of animals clearly becomes a theme throughout the book. Old friends from the previous titles reappear, and new individuals join the ranks, adding different perspectives, some variety, and more smiles. Young adults interested in veterinary science or those who just like animals and enjoy a good bit of humor will be satisfied.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
McCormack's (A Friend of the Flock, 1997, etc.) further adventures as a rural veterinarian in the deep South, presented as a long, knee-slapping wheeze, perhaps in an effort to counterbalance his earlier, gruffer, and more condescending, efforts. "It was Easter Sunday afternoon, and I was snoozing on the sofa, when I heard the jingle of the phone." So it goes for Choctaw County, Ala., vet McCormack, who runs a one-man county-wide operation and is on call always (and grouses about it frequently). Lightly knit together here are 32 pastels about tending to his flock, and the tone is much gentler than in his previous two collections, though the writing maintains its unrehearsed, over-a-cup-of-coffee quality. Not that he doesn't take his work seriously, but McCormack has mellowed; now he sees the humor in hauling himself out of bed for a late-night prolapsed uterus suffered by John Tom Tew's cow way back in the woods, or the mange that has attacked Skeeter's dog, especially when the mange has spread to Skeeter. He has learned how to keep in perspective the vaccination of a drove of hogs against cholera in the middle of January while 50 hogs lie dead and frozen around him and another 50 are at death's door, "visibly sick, standing still, and looking in the ground as if in deep concentration." McCormack still comes on as gratingly superior when someone smokes or dares to take a nip of Georgia peach, and he still finds bathroom jokes the best of all "Suddenly, a chestnut-sized spherule of green fecal material whistled past my right ear and splattered on the chart," or the truism "Never, ever, stand behind a two-thousand-pound bull who has loose bowel syndrome and a bad cough." McCormack canstill bluster crudely, but here he comes across as a brick, too, caring for all his charges: "I was learning that my profession was a people business as well as an animal one."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780609603734
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/15/1999
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.82(w) x 8.56(h) x 0.93(d)

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Meet the Author

Dr. John McCormack is a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Georgia.  A native of Tennessee, he received his B.S. and D.V.M. degrees from Auburn University and for thirty years ran a successful veterinary practice in Choctaw County, Alabama, which is the setting for his books. A proud dad and granddad, he lives in Athens, Georgia, with his wife, Jan.

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