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Being a farm kid made me an armchair doctor

Mindy Ward injured finger upclose
FARM FIX: A new hobby of making baby bibs and burp cloths for an expected grandchild resulted in cutting off part of a finger with the rotary blade. No livestock on the farm made for no medicine on hand and a trip to the ER.
Don’t DIY your way out of injuries on the farm or in the home.

“We’re out,” my husband called while walking up the basement stairs. In that moment, I realized just how much I missed having livestock on the farm. Back then, there was a cabinet full of medicine. And right then, I needed some blood stop powder.

My new hobby — all of one month — took a turn when using a hand-held rotary blade to cut material. I went around the corner too fast and cut off some of my finger. It was a clean cut and didn’t really hurt.

First, I applied pressure and sat for a time hoping it would stop the bleeding. It didn’t. So, I asked my husband to look for the one thing I knew worked on lambs or ewes that had open wounds to stop the bleeding. We were out. On to the next option.

Farm fixes

From my younger days of castrating and docking tails by clamping and then cutting them off with a knife, I remembered flour slowed the bleeding. So, we tried it. Nothing. Corn starch. Nothing. It was time to turn to the internet.

Ice. Nope. Vinegar. No. (And yes, it stung.) There was only one option left.

“We could cauterize it,” I said, lying on the couch with my hand in the air. From across the room, my girl, who was in town for a baby shower and knows me so well, said, “You’re not putting your hand on the stove.”

I assured her I was thinking of heating up a knife. My dad did it when docking tails. My husband and I used the method for a lamb who cut themselves on a fence. It worked, I contended. “Or,” she said, “you could just go to the ER.”

After an hour of trying to stop the bleeding on our own, we succumbed to the pressure and made the 20-minute trip to the emergency room. Another hour later with numbing cream applied and silver nitrate to cauterize, I was out the door and home at 1 a.m.

So why is it that we, as older grown farm kids, hate going to the doctor and try to DIY our own fixes to medical problems?

Treatment rationale

Often, I find being raised on a farm entitles me to be an armchair doctor. Those of us who grew up with livestock have some type of medical know-how. Granted, it may be rudimentary, but we’ve sewn up cuts, delivered baby animals and administered shots. Certainly, we can handle a little cut.

The problem comes when we alone try to determine what is “little.” I guess the deciding factor should be when your husband comes down and hands you the tip of your finger that was left on the cutting mat.

Then there is the issue of time. If we can try our livestock remedies on our human selves, it saves the time required to go to the doctor, especially if they work. In retrospect, I could’ve saved an hour by just going immediately.

Ultimately, it was just flat-out embarrassing. I mean, who likes walking into an emergency room and saying, “I cut my finger and can’t get it to stop bleeding.” Not me. As farmers we are tough enough to rub some dirt on it and move on. It is hard to bury our ego and admit, despite all our farm know-how, we can’t fix a problem. But it boils down to just because it worked on our sheep does not mean it will work on me.

All I know is perhaps we should go back to raising sheep. At this rate, it might be a less expensive and less dangerous hobby.

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