Bartering Services, Sandy Style
D. E. Larsen, DVM
Chester and Virginia bounced through the door and leaned on the counter in front of Sandy.
“How much are we looking at to get a cat spayed?” Chester asked.
Sandy started to look at the fee schedule. She had been here before with Chester and Virginia, and she knew it could be a long discussion.
“Never mind looking the fee up,” Virginia said as she waved her hand, obviously taking control of the conversation. “We are here to make a deal.”
“The Doctor isn’t here right now,” Sandy said. “He gets a little upset if I make deals.”
“Oh phooey, he won’t say anything about it if you make the deal,” Virginia said.
“What kind of a deal are we talking about?” Sandy asked.
“Ducks,” Chester said.
“I can tell you one thing for sure,” Sandy said. “The doctor is not going to spay any ducks.”
“No, no,” Virginia said. “We want to trade some ducks for a cat spay.”
“This is the thing,” Chester said. “We raised this bunch of ducks for meat. Now that they are up to the size to butcher, Virginia can’t stand to think of killing them. But they are too big for us to keep. We thought that Doc might be up to putting them in the freezer.”
“How many ducks are in the bunch?” Sandy asked.
“There are fourteen ducks,” Virginia said. “And they are good-sized ducks, and we fed them well. They are nice and fat, not like the wild ones the Doc talks about.”
“Well, he did use to hunt ducks,” Sandy said.
“I was in here a couple of months ago when a guy came in and gave Doc a couple of ducks he had shot,” Chester said. “Doc was really pleased with those. We figured if he likes ducks to eat, he should be willing to take these ducks to butcher.”
“Okay,” Sandy said. “When do you want to schedule this? And I have to clear it with the Doctor first.”
“We have the cat in the car,” Virginia said. “We thought if we could make the deal, we didn’t want to waste any time getting it done.”
“She will probably have to stay overnight,” Sandy said. “I not sure just where we can fit her into our schedule.”
“That’s not a problem,” Virginia said as Chester started to the car for the cat. “If she needs to stay for a day or two, that is fine with us.”
“Do you want to deliver the ducks, or do you want Doctor to pick them up?” Sandy asked.
“Chester was planning to deliver them, but if Doc could pick them up, that would be super.”
“It might be better if Chester delivered them. I am probably in trouble enough,” Sandy said.
“When do you want him to bring them by?” Virginia asked.
Sandy looked at the appointment book. It was almost full for the rest of the week, and she had just stuck a cat spay into the mix. Dave was not going to be happy.
“Looking at his schedule, I don’t think he will have any time until Saturday,” Sandy said.
“Great,” Chester said as he placed the cat carrier on the counter. “I can be there with a truckload of ducks at eight on Saturday morning.”
“We probably better make that nine,” Sandy said. “Doctor sort of likes to sleep in a bit on Saturday mornings.”
“It’s a deal then,” Virginia said. “You just give me a call with Cali is ready to come home. Chester will have the ducks up to your place on Saturday morning.”
“The Pearson’s were in this morning,” Sandy said as I was cleaning up after a farm call. “They dropped off a cat to spay. There is no rush. We can just fit the surgery in when you have time.”
“That is fine,” I said. “If I have to, we can either come early in the morning, or I can do it at the end of the day. Those two are always after a deal. You didn’t do any horse-trading, I hope.”
“Well, no horse-trading,” Sandy said.
“Well?” I said. “What does well mean?”
“No horse-trading, more like duck trading.”
“Tell me more about this duck trading deal.”
“They have this bunch of ducks that they raised for meat, and Virginia can’t bear to think about butchering them. Chester was in here when Howard gave you those two ducks he had shot on the river. They thought if you liked ducks so well, they would trade their meat ducks for the spay.”
“They are going to do the butchering, I hope.”
“No, that is the problem. But Chester will deliver them to our place on Saturday morning.”
“And how many ducks are in this bunch?” I asked.
“They have been feeding them well. Virginia said they were all good-sized and fat.”
“Sandy, how many ducks are in this bunch?” I asked again.
“There are fourteen ducks,” Sandy said.
“Fourteen ducks!” I said. “Do you have any idea how long it is going to take me to butcher fourteen ducks?”
“I could probably spay a bunch of cats in that amount of time.”
“I’m sorry,” Sandy said. “They are always so sincere. I couldn’t just turn them away.”
Right on the button, Chester pulled into our driveway right at nine on Saturday morning. I met him before he could get out of the truck and come to the door.
“I have them all in an old mattress cover,” Chester said. “It was the only way I could think of to transport them.”
“Let’s back this up to the woodshed, and we will unload them there.”
“Woodshed,” Chester said. “Is that where you’re going butcher them?”
“It has to start somewhere,” I said. “When I was a kid, we often butchered chickens in a big bunch. And the assembly line started in the woodshed. I would hold the chicken, and my brother would chop off the head. Then I would throw the chicken in the air. Quite a sight, watching a chicken with his head cut off. But it made a heck of a mess in the woodshed, blood everywhere.”
“Okay, I am glad it is you doing the butchering. I couldn’t bring myself to do it.”
We unloaded the ducks, and Chester left. I went into the house to finish my coffee and gather my strength.
“Are you going to be up to this?” Sandy asked.
“It’s just another chore,” I said. “I have been thinking, I am just going to chop off their heads and then skin out the breast. I will cut out the breast and discard everything else. That will make it a lot easier and quicker. The breast is really the only thing worth eating on the duck anyway.”
“Oh, that’s fine,” Sandy said. “I don’t like duck anyway.”
Photo be L N on Unsplash