Little Orphan Annie

Little Orphan Annie

I had a few rabbits and a few sheep and was just starting in the 4H club.   

The phone rang one day and it was Frank S. Aichelman the son of Uncle Frank that I have already talked about. 

Frank had a few sheep and one of the ewes had twins and would not take care of one of the babies.  He asked my mother if  it was OK with her if he could give me the orphaned lamb. 

Mom asked me and of course I was excited for the opportunity.  Frank drove in the yard a few minutes later with this poor scrawny little lamb.  He  explained that she needed to be kept warm and suggested for a few days that she get about 3 ounces of milk per feeding from a nursing bottle. 

Mom still had a bottle or two left from taking care of my brother Bud and so I began to try to feed the lamb with mom’s coaching and help.  I don’t think it took very many days for the lamb to sleep all night and of course she and I became good friends.  I had a dog named Towser and a pigeon I had saved from some sort of problem so if I went to the field to thin my  sugar beets Mom could see where I was.

I  was on my hands and knees thinning beets and wasn’t much good at it.  But she could see the dog or the pigeon or the lamb because they were watching me work.

At least she could see where I was and I wasn’t moving down the fields very  fast.

We had a wonderful renter at the time, a neighbor,  Arthur Doversberger and he agreed to let me have 2 rows of sugar beets to see if I could manage them for a 4H project.  He would charge me for the planting and then I would do the thinning and  hoeing and we would see how they looked in comparison to his beets. 

Mom came out to watch me finally and she recognized why I was so slow.  I was hesitating to kill healthy looking plants so instead of proper spacing of 8 inches to 12 inches I had them spaced from 3 to 6 inches apart.  She took a hoe and took out  at least half of what I had done and by that time the regular thinners were just about to finish the rest of Mr. Art  Doversberger’s beets so he came and told me that I wasn’t getting done fast enough so he would let the regular thinners  finish the rest of my two rows of  beets.   

That ended my 4H project of raising beets for that year.  When I started to write this story I remembered that mom had  taken a picture of me and the dog and the sheep and the pigeon going up and down the field but I cannot find the picture. 

It was a comical sight I guess because when I started out to go anyplace on the farm the rest of my menagerie went with me.  They helped me to do the chores and watched while I fed the rest of my sheep and took care of the bunnies.  It was very important to be sure the bunnies had fresh water at least twice a day and so I was not a good beet thinner but a  conscientious herds man and loved taking care of my animals.

Annie finally grew big enough so she was graduated to go live with the rest of the sheep.   

The next time Annie gets into the story was about 2 years later in dead of  winter.

In fact it was on my  birthday the 16th  of   January.  I went out to feed the  sheep  before I left to go to school and   Annie  did not come up to  say  good morning  and   she was over in the corner of the  shed and  was acting like  she  was trying to have a  baby.

I went over to see her and she was obviously not having any luck.  I had watched other ewes lamb and knew that she was in trouble or at least I thought she was.  I went  and got  mom to come  and  she  and  I  decided  maybe we should call  a  veterinarian.

Mom allowed me to stay home that morning while we waited for the doctor. 

Dr. John  Thimmig drove in the  yard with  his  Chevrolet coupe and  got out and introduced  himself  and asked  mom to  give  him a  bucket of water and soap and a towel.  Then he asked me to show him the patient.  He asked me  if  I could hold her still and I assured  him I could and explained   I had raised her from a  baby with a bottle and she liked me. 

I watched intently as he washed her with the soap and water and then he reached inside her with a curious look on his face.  In  just a  few  minutes  he smiled and  pulled out a  lamb and shook it  and  cleaned off its nose and mouth and made  sure it  was  breathing.

Then he smiled and said there were two lambs in he and she couldn’t get started because they were trying to come out side by side and they would not fit.  Then he said, “Hold her again”.   He reached inside her and   pulled out another lamb.   By that time the  first  baby  was trying to get up  so he helped me  learn  how to be  sure the baby was able to  nurse the mother.  He sure spent more time with me than he needed to and he was so kind.

Then I began to think.  I had one sick sheep and  I called the  vet and all of a  sudden I had  3 sheep!  That looked like a good job to me.  About that time I was grabbing mom’s hand and asking, “ASK him if I can go with him!!”

Dr.  John said if you would like to go with me I will pick you up a little after 8:00 in the morning on Saturday.

The rest of the story is that my friend   Dr.  John Thimmig became my coach and counselor and  several years later  when I got out of  vet school  I began to  work  with him and  we  were  partners for  29 years and it was a  wonderful  experience for  us.  

I never had to look for a job.  The job found me.  The story has an  interesting P.S.

Annie  gave me a set of twins for three years on my  birthday !!!

2 Responses to “Little Orphan Annie”

  1. Enjoyed the story about the Lamb, the bird and the dog. We saved many a lamb by allowing them to take shelter by the old coal stove and providing them with milk from a bottle…. Gail

  2. Part of that story sounds a little familiar to me. The part about the veterinarian taking the young boy along with him to learn all kinds of things about … well life.
    Thank you!
    Even though I never followed you into the world of veterinary medicine, I learned so very much from you.

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