The Old Sickle Mower

D. E. Larsen, DVM

I hated this hole. I was trying to visualize the perfect shot as I placed my ball on the tee. Standing back behind the ball, I took a deep breath. Even with my slice, I could play this hole. I never understood why it bothered me so.

The 8th hole at Pineway Golf Course was straight away and a little downhill, especially on the second shot. The green was elevated and small, but I could play this hole. I just needed a good tee shot. I needed to block those trees out of my mind.

I addressed the ball, checked my alignment, and started my backswing. Then I swung as hard as I could. The ball flew off the tee, cleared the close trees, and faded to the right around the grove of oaks. I was in great shape, just right of the fairway, but only a six iron to the green.

My Thursday afternoon golf game was a closely guarded escape for me. The phone never rang on the golf course. I was never a great player, but I could beat anyone on any one hole. I loved this game, I just wished I could play well enough to beat my Father someday.

I lined up my second shot and set my six iron on the ground behind the ball. I took a peek at my target, and I swung hard. Typically, a large divot flew in the air. The ball was high in the air when I locked onto it visually. It was right on target, high in the air, it should land softly on the green. 

I followed the ball carefully, it landed on the green, left of center, one small bounce and rolled toward the pin on the left-back of the green. I came to rest two feet short of the pin. 

My heart raced, I slammed the six iron back into my bag and started toward the green. Jim was just making his second shot from the middle of the fairway. Partners in a men’s club game, he would be happy that I had a short birdie putt. Jim’s ball came up just short of the green. Hopefully, he could get up and down for par, making my birdie putt a lot less stressful.

I was just setting my golf bag down on the edge of the green when I saw the golf cart speeding down the 9th fairway, heading right for us. Moments later, Woodberry pulls up beside in the cart.

“You have an emergency, Doc,” Woodberry said. “Bill called and said he has a cow who cut her tail off on a sickle mower. He thinks she is bleeding to death.”

“The tail is a long way from the heart,” I said. “All bleeding stops, eventually.”

“Get in, I told the guy I would send you as soon as I could,” Woodberry said, apparently not impressed with my words of wisdom.

“Woodberry, do you how long it has been since I have had a 2-foot putt of a birdie on this hole?” I said.

“Get in, Jim will give you the putt, we have to go,” Woodberry said.

“You can keep my ball, Jim,” I said as I loaded my bag on the cart.

At least Bill’s place was not far and on the way home. I threw my golf bag into the back seat in the truck and jumped in, not bothering to change my golf shoes. That would give Bill the impression that I had hurried.

I could see both Bill and his wife out at the chute. They had the cow in the chute already. I didn’t see any blood squirting, but the cow’s hind legs were covered in blood, and Bill’s teeshirt and pants were also soaked.

“I am glad they could get you,” Bill said as I got out of the truck. “Sorry I had to ruin your game, but I was running these cows out of the barn, and I had this damn tractor parked here with the sickle bar up. This gal must have switched her tail at the wrong time, and that sickle bar just sliced it off in an instant.”

I walked over and looked at what was left of the tail. It was a clean cut, about a foot and a half from the base of the tail. 

“I didn’t know how long you were going to be,” Bill said. “I figured I better get the bleeding under control, that hose clamp a little way up from the cut end did the trick. I just screwed it down until the bleeding stopped.”

“I see, that was pretty good thinking,” I said. “I will close up this wound, and we will be able to remove the clamp.”

I shaved the hair for about 6 inches above the severed end of the tail. Then I gave her an epidural injection of Lidocaine for anesthesia. After scrubbing the wound, I made a bivalve incision of the end of the tail, so I would have two flaps to suture over the cut end. Then I removed enough bone so I could get the skin to close over the bone with no tension.

“I’m going to have you take that clamp off now,” I said. “I will need some bleeding to make sure I can get all the vessels ligated.”

Bill removed the clamp with the screwdriver that was still in his pocket. The blood started squirting. I was able to get a hemostat on the main arteries, and I ligated those, check again, there was just minor bleeding evident now. Suturing the end of the tail with number 2 Dexon, made for a secure closure, and I would not have to come back to take the sutures out. I sprayed her well for flies, and we turned her out. 

“That should heal with no problems,” I said. “But keep an eye on it and let me know if I need to recheck her. The stitches will dissolve, so we don’t have to take those out.”

“I am sure glad you could get here so quick,” Bill said. “And, I apologize again for ruining your game.”

“The worst thing about that is I left a 2-foot putt for a birdie on the 8th hole,” I said. “I guess I will just have to add that onto your bill.”

“Well, damn! Now I am sorry, I hear a lot of guys complaining about that hole,” Bill said. “I never play the game myself.”

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

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