Things You Learn in the Sticks

Well, I’m not really in ‘the sticks’.  But I am spending the next month in a rural town – population approx 2210 including cats and cows – at a small family medicine practice.  The people I’ve met this week are kind, interesting and usually more polite than I’m used to in “The City” (population 98,000).

Here are a couple eye-opening things I’ve learned so far:

1.) Remedy for croup –

Slather “grease” of some kind (I imagined Crisco…but I’m sure it’s often something closer to the barnyard for people who actually do this) onto a bandanna  Then pour turpentine onto the grease and fold the bandanna on itself until it is approximately the width of the child’s throat.  Put the folded bandanna into the oven  and heat that baby up until the grease melts into the bandanna.  Then put it on the child’s throat (once it’s cooled down a bit, of course).

“That bark’ll be gone by mornin’.”

2.)  Goats with 3 testicles are not uncommon –

The addition of another male sex organ increases, you might guess, the goat’s virility.  He sorta rules the barnyard.  These particular specimen of masculinity are constantly looking for mating opportunities.  One thing you might NOT have suspected is that they often urinate on their own heads.  Nobody really knows why, and I’m sure less-endowed sheep do this on occasion, too.  But you see it often with the tri-testicle guys the most.  They have a remarkable way of contorting their bodies so that they can position their head just under the “stream”, and give themselves a golden shower, as it were. 

I should add that they also have the uncanny ability to, uh, service themselves.  Nice.  I knew some kids when I was a teenager that would have gladly given at least one of their limbs for this particular talent.  Honestly, upon hearing this, I felt a little jealous on behalf of my buddy Mike, who once promised me that if he could achieve what apparently these goats do with ease, he’d never leave his house again.  Mike, wherever you are, don’t give up!  It can be done! 

How all this came up in the middle of a family medicine visit, I’m not quite sure.  Especially such intimate details of the life of an anatomically-gifted (cursed?) barnyard goat.  But this is the kind of thing that comes up when you’re a family doc in rural America.  Today, I’m much more prepared.  I hope.

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