The prompt for this week is a doozy, at least for me:
July 6th 1885 was when Louis Pasteur successfully treated a boy with a rabies vaccine. This plaque in Arbois is one side of a pillar dedicated to Pasteur and his achievements. Expect to see commemorative plaques aplenty, group portraits, or even mad dogs! Yikes!
I put my thunkin' hat on and thunk and thunk Finally, Barny, the Barn Owl flew across my mind. Twas a while ago, and the the photo is not sepia, but it is faded and yellowed. Not Pastuer, or vaccines, or plaques, but I amgoing to tell you all the saga of when Doc introduced me to Barney.
|Doc Hill with Barney, the Barn Owl;|
wing healed and ready to fly
JGH & Roots'n'Leaves Archives
The problem being, it was fall and elk season was rapidly approaching. Amid stacks of guns,camping gear, stores of food, he deposited Barney in a corner of the laundry room. Barny was still relegated to cage rest, and needed to be fed daily.
"Hon, you don't mind feeding Barney while I am gone, do you?" Sounded like a question, but I knew that it was more of a directive. Clinic staff did not feed and clean cages of a non-paying patient. Veterinarian's wives and children usually got that job. Our kids were grown, so the job was on my plate. In those days, elk hunting trips were at least 10 days in length, and two weeks, if Doc could get adequate coverage for his practice.
"What do I do need to do for the owl?" I sqwaked.
"Just clean his cage every day and I put some frozen mice in the freezer," he tossed back off handedly as he continued packing his rig. "Might want to thaw the mice in the microwave. Don't think he will he frozen mice."
With such minimal direction given, Doc climbed in his rig and headed out to meet his hunting buddies. And I was left with the bird, his wing still securely wrapped close to his body. No, indeed, Barney did not like frozen mice. Nor did he like thawed frozen mice, or dead mice. His preference ran to live little critters, warm bodied mice, to kill and crunch upon. I haunted the pet stores for their supply of baby mice, amidst snickers, "Guess what Doc did this time?"
"He'd better get home soon if he knows what's good for him"
"Doc's wife don't look too happy these days."
Doc came home with meat for the freezer and stories to last till next hunting season. Barney was still alive. And I was so pleased to get rid of my feathered charge that I greeted Doc warmly and gave him a run down of my patient's progress.
Soon it was time to start exercising Barney so that he could be released into the wild. For some reason, I was still in charge of Barney's recuperation. Tried flying him on a line attached to a jess on his leg. Not too successful, as Barney was too fast and strong for the garage bit. Next, Doc told me to attach a long fishing line to his jess. So on Barney's maiden flight outside, he was indeed attached to fishing line. Doc held Barney on his arm. I tentatively held the fishing pole with the line attached. In my mind, I thought Barney would fly around me in a circle -- rather like a kid's airplane. This was not Barney's idea. When Doc tossed him in the air, Barney took off as far and as fast as the line would let him. He settled in a tree, quite some distance away. Obviously, his wing was healed and in good shape.
"What do I do now?," I asked with the fishing pole in my hand and Barney in a tree, glaring down at me.
"Just wait him out, hon. When he starts to fly, start reeling him in, slowly."
Finally, Barney took off from his perch, I reeled him in without getting him tangled in any branches. Barney spent the night in his cage and the next morning, we took the cage outside and Barney marched out the open door, and took flight.
I had the illusion that Barney would come back, fly over our house, and maybe dip his wings in a show of affection or gratitude. No, that is the story book version. Our Barney, took flight and never looked back.
By the way, a couple of years later, when cleaning out the freezer, I found a package labled, "Mice." Such is the freezer of a veterinarian's wife. Now check out what other fare provided by our Sepians.
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© Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications