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Wyatt Lawrence, right, helping Dr. Dan Peterson last fall. (Marytina Lawrence/Special to Agweek)

The synergy of farming and the importance of large-animal vets

Every late winter/early spring it seems there are medical issues that pop up. When the ground begins to thaw and freeze and thaw and freeze again, it can be tough on the cattle, and we have our eyes open for any and all potential health issues.

The other day (it was a Sunday afternoon), my farmer husband had a commitment in the evening and was going to be gone. With one last daily walk through the cows and calves, he noticed a calf that did not look quite right. Upon further inspection, it was determined that she definitely was going to need further care that would require a call to our veterinarian, which he made.

I was given all the information as he was out the door to an important appointment, then I went with my two older boys to get this calf into the shop. Dr. Dan arrived shortly and immediately stated his apology for feeling rushed as he had two more emergency calls after us that he would need to get to. Our call was an emergency also, as this young calf was showing signs of sickness that we diagnosed to need immediate care.

So with our help, Dr. Dan went to work methodically and compassionately, diagnosing the potential issue and developing a treatment plan that we would continue after his departure. I have always been grateful for our veterinarian. He is smart, efficient, caring and really good at what he does.

While he conducted his work, I helped when needed and visited with him about his day, remembering that it was a Sunday and the time was about 6 p.m. at that point. He has a young family and shares clinic duties with three other veterinarians who all rotate being "on call" on the weekends. He had not slept much in the last 24 hours due to the number of calls he had received, and yet his attitude was constant, positive and kind, as he always is.

I don't often think much about the level of time and commitment we spend on the farm because it is all I have known for 23 years. Every day can be considered a work day depending on the circumstances. But in that moment I realized we are not alone. It is the same for Dr. Dan. And without him we would be lost at times. He is someone we depend on and are eternally grateful to have. His dedication to his profession is intertwined with ours. And the synergy that creates is unmatched.

We knew it would be touch-and-go for this young calf as I shook his hand and watched him leave to visit his next patient. Thankfully, the calf made it and is doing great. But without Dr. Dan, things may have been very different on Monday morning.

So today I want to say thank you to all the large animal veterinarians who work day-in and day-out to help us care for the our livestock. It would be impossible for us to do our job without you.