Born and raised in Dodge City, Kansas, I am a fourth-generation farmer. My family farm includes more than two thousand acres of wheat, corn and soy, and several thousand cattle. I'm everything you probably think of when you envision a farm girl: fresh-scrubbed, hard working and committed to the agricultural life. But I am consciously choosing a somewhat different direction for my career, while still being true to my small-town agricultural roots. I'd like to be a verterinarian with a large animal practice.
Crops cycles are erratic, and the lifeblood of any small farm is usually in livestock. I've watched my parents struggle to preserve their animals' health for years, sacrificing many night's sleep to deliver a calf or to treat an injured steer with hourly does of antibiotics. The role of a country veterinarian is paramount.
My most vivid childhood memory was waiting for our local veterinarian, Dr.
Winters, to arrive at our barn to deliver emergency treatment to our extremely-pregnant cow, Molly. Molly had enjoyed a relatively stress-free pregnancy, but labor had stopped progressing for several hours and her vital signs were becoming erratic. My mom knew that without immediate medical help, she and her calf might not survive. This would not only be a horrible loss for Molly, but for the farm's economic survival as well.
So we waited, in zero degree weather, huddling from the severe, blustery wind, for what seemed like hours for Dr. Winters to arrive. I never asked how he managed to reach us in a blinding snowstorm or how his wife felt when she was awakened by our alarming late-night phone call. I just knew that he was our only hope, our hero, and that we could count on him to save Molly.
Dr. Winters didn't let us...