The period of late November to mid February is like the doldrums for many a large animal practice. Days will go by with an appointment for horse vaccinations here, a call for goat hoof trimming there, and the occasional emergency laceration sprinkled in for good measure.
To put it another way, I was able to complete my Christmas shopping at the mall one slow afternoon in December and take a nap in my truck at the 7-11 the following day. A few weeks later I commented to my boss that after a day of five appointments, I was stressed out, to which she replied, "That’s because you haven’t worked a full day in months!" Touché.
When things are quiet, my mind tends to wander. I do crazy things like decide it’s a good idea to purchase a pink flamingo and set it in my front yard, or mistakenly think I’m artsy and begin a project that, in my head, I’m sure will turn out like the Sistine Chapel, but then, in reality, looks like a smashed Faberge egg. Luckily, my husband looks the other way, knowing this phase will pass as the weather warms up.
I should use this quiet time to review old notes, explore new diagnostic aids, practice my suturing skills, polish my calf jack (a large metal contraption used to help pull big, stubborn, and usually backward calves into the world), and throw out any expired medications that are floating around in the back of my truck. Instead, I catch up on sleep, write thank-you letters to clients who gave me Christmas presents (a perk of large animal practice in an area of the country that has alpacas is alpaca socks — the warmest, most comfy socks you will even put your feet into), contemplate the varieties of coffee available at the local gas stations, and read books.
This time of the year is like the calm before the storm. Mid-February is the beginning of lambing season, and by March and April we are suddenly in full swing, as the babies of all species are hitting the ground fast and furious.
With the glorious come-back of warmth, sunshine, and leaves on the trees comes late night calving emergencies, lame horses because they ate too much lush grass, and lambs too weak to nurse. And suddenly, my ship (or rather, blue and white Ford F-250) is out of the doldrums and into a tempest, one that lasts until, oh, sometime in late summer.
So I suppose it is with half anticipation and half trepidation that I peak my head out of my warm, cozy truck, 7-11 coffee in hand, and ask, "Is it spring yet?"
Dr. Anna O'Brien