Thank you to Barnmice member, Geoff Tucker, DVM for sharing his stories with us!

***

Securing a storage trailer from high winds in Florida

The sweat had been pouring off of me all day as I had visited several farms doing routine work as well as fixing a few broken horses. I was looking forward to coming home and relaxing with dinner and a shower. But the weather was changing as the sun set and my thoughts of relaxing were soon blown away.

Summer weather in upstate New York can change in the blink of an eye. Most seasoned northerners look forward to when a front rolls through bringing along with it a 20 to 30 degree drop on a sweltering hot day. However, along with the cold comes severe lightening and thunder, hail, and wind. The horses feel these fronts and often react with frivolous and dangerous frolicking.

My wife Kathy met me with the news. “Dinner’s ready and Jeannie has a cut on her leg that needs suturing.” I went to the barn to look at the cut and returned to the house with the verdict. “It needs sutures but it can wait till after dinner.” Knowing my day wasn’t done yet, I savored each bite as I got caught up on the day with my family.

An intricate and beautiful custom made barn door

Jeannie On The Spot was an old gray Thoroughbred mare who retired sound after 100 races. She was a foaling machine reliable in every way and never had a bad day or a complaint. I owed it to her to give her my best veterinary attention. The family and dogs accompanied me to the barn. The storm approached with rumbling in the dark and winds stiffening.

Under incandescent light, I scrubbed the dirt from the torn cannon bone on the outside of the left hind leg. I blocked the nerves and started my first layer of suturing. The wind was howling and buffeting the windows of the barn. Lightening was popping constantly and Kathy said several times, “Shouldn’t we go in the house?” As the sound of the wind mimicked a roaring freight train, I continued to place my skin sutures. The horse remained motionless as the plastic window in her stall imploded as one piece into the stall busting loose from its’ frame by the higher pressure outside.

Misters installed on the roof of an outdoor run in shed in Florida

The suture with attached needle was left hanging on the incompletely closed wound as I ran 50 yards from the barn to my house with my son, the size of a bale of hay, under my one arm and my small dog under the other. The freight train sound was real as the wind gently lifted me with my passengers off my feet. Literally flying through the air, I was caught by the post of the deck stairs leading to the back door. Lightening was erupting sideways parallel to the ground and the sky glowed a sinister yellowish green.

I flung open the back door and charged into the house towards the basement door. Up to now, I could not hear or see Kathy with our two other dogs so I shouted “Everyone in the basement!”

To my dismay, Kathy was standing at the picture window and shouted back, “No way! I’m staying to watch!” She, like so many barn girls, love watching the weather and she wasn’t going to miss this opportunity.

Ten minutes later the storm was over. I returned to the barn and completed my suturing task. Jeannie didn’t seem to care. I, however, needed a couple of hours to calm down.

The next day I walked deep into my farm to find all the trees in the back 30 acres snapped off or uprooted, all laying in the same direction. The weather service officially called it a “wind shear.” Many locals called it a tornado. Jeannie and I called it just another day on the job, though to me, the most memorable.

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Comment by Jackie Cochran on August 19, 2012 at 12:45pm

Wow, I'm glad you and your horse are all right.

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