Today, in 1941, Jim Wight, AKA James Herriot married Joan Danbury, AKA Helen Herriot.
Herriot checks on a ewe who has just had a lamb. The owner of the ewe is drunk, and Herriot freezes in the cold while the owner finds the animal for him. As it turns out, the ewe has another lamb to be born. This is an exciting time for Herriot.
Herriot describes some of the daily details of his life since his marriage. They are low on usable furniture, but they are happy. Herriot works on a foal’s leg at a nearby farm, and their dog Jock chases his car as he leaves. Jock’s puppies are soon overtaking him in the chasing department, but after they are sold, Jock is the best car-chaser once again.
At a farm, busy helping ewes who are lambing, Herriot notices one lamb whose mother won’t let him drink. Later, he returns to the farm because the lambs have been chased by a local dog. Later, a ewe who lost her lamb is depressed, so they take dead skins and use them on the ewe whose mother won’t let him drink. So the mother with no baby adopts Henry, whose own mother wouldn’t feed him.
In this chapter we meet a dog named Clancy, who is sick, and no one can figure out why, unless it’s his habit of eating trash. They make a plan to hold the dog down for an exam, but the owner is late for the appointment. So the vets all take the chance and leave. They don’t relish having to deal with the dog, since he is ill-tempered.
Mr. Pickersgill is introduced in Chapter Five. He feels educated because of a two week college course. He actually knows very little. Herriot has to deal with these feelings while getting Mr. Pickersgill to realize the real problems he has.
Siegfried, who is Herriot’s partner and who used to be his boss, lectures Herriot and Tristan, since they are forever forgetting surgical equipment at the farms where they visit. He removes a cow’s tumor, only to be reminded that he left the forceps at the farm. He is very hesitant to admit this, since he has preached about not losing track of one’s equipment.
Chapter 7 tells the reader of an encounter between Herriot and Helen, and her family, prior to their marriage. Helen’s father seems to take an instant dislike to Herriot, and the veterinarian thinks he will impress the man when his cow becomes ill. Instead, despite his treatment, the cow dies.
In Chapter 8, Herriot recalls an embarrassing time in his life. While attempting to befriend a client, he drinks too much wine, and then he’s called to Bamford’s farm to deliver a calf. The next day, Siegfried is not at all pleased that Herriot had shown up at the Bamford’s farm so fully intoxicated. Siegfried hopes they couldn’t tell he was drunk, as they are strict Methodists, but Herriot knows that they could tell.
We meet Mrs. Donovan in Chapter 9. She enjoys showing up at farms where Herriot is treating an animal, and treating them herself. The farm people of the community sometimes trust her treatment more than they trust that of Herriot. When her dog Rex dies after being hit by a car, she vows never to own another dog. Nonetheless, a month or so later, she is witness to a dog cruelty intervention by Herriot, and asks to take the Golden Retriever home. The dog has a happy home with Mrs. Donovan for many years.
Herriot writes about serving the Darrowby Fair as their veterinarian, in Chapter 10. He sees Helen there, with her other male friend. Herriot spends some time with Tristan, then is called to see to an injured heifer. He cannot clamp the blood vessel, and is forced to simply cover it over with gauze. Helen and her other beau are watching. Herriot next sees a dog who should not be showing, since it is exhibiting signs of distemper. He also has to measure ponies to make sure they are of correct height for their classes. He is interrupted to check the dog’s temperature again by the dog’s owner, and then he continues measuring ponies, and listening to arguments by owners whose ponies are not the correct size for their classes. He notices that Helen and her other boyfriend are watching him once more.
Still at the fair, Herriot must judge the Family Pets divisions. He judges them based on the knowledge of the owners about how to care for them. First prize goes to a goldfish. As Helen and her beau leave, his car won’t start and he must crank start it.
In Chapter 12, we meet the widow Dalby, and learn of her fight to keep her family’s farm. Herriot arrives to see to some coughing cattle. They are sick, and must be kept inside and fed, instead of pastured. Twelve of her cattle die, and Herriot fears that her continued bad luck will result in her losing the family farm.
Herriot must go to the Dalby farm again in this chapter, for more sick cattle. He tests the cattle, and it turns out that they are deficient in copper. The animals’ conditions improve with treatment. The widow Dalby still runs the farm, with her sons, and she still gives Herriot special treatment and tea when he comes to see to her animals.
In this chapter, Herriot is looking at purchasing furnishings for Helen’s room, and his as well. He has a history of bringing home useless things from sales, but he resolves not to do that when he makes a trip to the Leed’s Laboratory, and attends a sale nearby. So what does he do? He buys a set of books. He can’t get them on the bus, so he finally gets them home, but they smell. At home, Helen isn’t mad, but won’t let them stay in the house because of the odor. They end up in the basement of Skeldale House.
We meet the Raynes ghost in Chapter 15. It is reportedly the ghost of a monk who was murdered, and one night, after working on a pony, Herriot stops by the abbey. He gets spooked, but doesn’t see a ghost. He’s still feeling uncomfortable at home, when Tristan appears in his room, dressed as a monk. He has been the “ghost” all along. A couple days later, Siegfried and Herriot have a farm call for a cow, and Herriot rides home with a local policeman. The policeman sees the ghost and takes chase, but loses him. Tristan has to spend the night inside a drainage pipe, though, and he gives up his “haunting” ways.
Granville Bennett is a small animal veterinarian, called in sometimes by Herriot for complicated small animal cases. Granville’s skilled assistants and spic and span operating room impress Herriot. He remembers, now, that he really wanted to work with small animals, when he originally went to veterinary school. He and Bennett share a beer as their small animal patient recovers.
In Chapter 17, Herriot is pushed to have more beer than he should, by Bennett. At Bennett’s house, he has even more to drink, and pickled onions that upset his stomach. He is more than a little amused to see that Bennett’s last patient is already feeling better than he does.
Chapter 18 tells us about Monty the bull. He is a pedigreed Newton bull, and the farmer who has purchased him feels he will be worth a lot of money. He falls ill, and Herriot treats and heals him with a miraculous surgery, and thereafter, the two have a special bond. Herriot never leaves the farm without petting the bull. When Monty the bull is fully grown, he has become mean. Herriot must get a blood sample, and does, but is then knocked to the floor. He scrambles away before the bull can gore him. The farmer finds this amusing, as Herriot leaves the farm.
There are many fewer horses working on farms, as Herriot tells us in Chapter 19. He remembers a time when he was nearly kicked by a horse who is later subdued with the farmer’s voice, not needing a sedative to finish his work. The next time Herriot is at that farm, only one old horse is left. This horse has tetanus, and the antitoxin doesn’t work, so Herriot has to put the aged horse down.
Christmas arrives in Chapter 20. Herriot wants a light business day so that he can relax. But he gets called to a farm in the early hours of the morning. The farmer is ungrateful and rude, and Herriot gets home only to see another call. Helen makes him breakfast while she relays the information on the second call. Herriot’s second Christmas call is a choking goat, whose owner is apologetic. As it turns out, the goat has swallowed a pair of underwear belonging to the farmer. Herriot is able to pull it back out because the elastic was stuck on the goat’s tongue. After they’re done, the wife of the farmer has Herriot in for cake and a drink. In this way, the veterinarian’s love of farmers and spirit of Christmas is renewed.
Herriot gets to see Marmaduke Skelton in Chapter 21. Duke is a quack as far as medicine is concerned, and he attempts to treat animal diseases. In the case of a cow with a prolapsed uterus, one of Herriot’s veterinarian friends, Ross, arrives only to find Duke already trying to treat the animal. Ross is ready to leave but the farmer wants him to stay. Ross puts the uterus back in easily, and Duke assumes he was part of the cure.
We meet Mrs. Bond’s cats in Chapter 22. She has many cats, both inside and outside. Boris the cat dislikes Herriot, since he had to give him a worm tablet once. On one day, Tristan accompanies Herriot to Mrs. Bond’s house, since one of her cats has a bone stuck in its teeth. Of course, as fate would have it, that cat is Boris. Tristan lets him out of the basket, and then chases the cat, trying to catch him. This stirs up all the other cats, who also scatter and run. Tristan actually has fun on the chase, but Mrs. Bond tells Herriot to please leave Tristan behind, next time.
Herriot visits Bennett in Chapter 23. He takes along Maudie, who is a cat owned by Colonel Bosworth. Maudie was struck by a car and injured her face, but Herriot thinks Bennett can help her. After the surgery, Bennett takes Herriot along to a veterinarian meeting. Since Herriot has dressed up for the day, he agrees to go along.
The snow is flying as they drive to the meeting, and Herriot fears that they will be late. They do arrive as the meeting is just ending, but as it turns out, this is what Bennett intended to do. Herriot didn’t want to meet Zoe Granville again unless he was sober and not filled with food, but they have food and drink after the meeting. Herriot starts feeling poorly on the way back to Granville’s house. The sliding of the car in the snow doesn’t help his stomach at all. They make it back to Bennett’s house safely, and Herriot is once again drunk and ill when he says good-night to Zoe.
Herriot meets a dog with a testicular tumor in Chapter 25. The owner, Mr. Partridge, is afraid that his dog Percy might die in surgery, so he lets it go much too long before addressing the problem. The owner is quite enamored of his dog, to the point of not having his tail docked when all his friends ridiculed him for the decision. He cannot bring himself to allow Herriot to cut his little dog.
Herriot finally gets to operate on the little dog in Chapter 26. But it was there for so long that it grows back. Herriot uses a new drug to help stop the regrowth, and it works, but causes the little dog to give off a scent much like a female dog in heat. Soon Partridge’s house is flocked by avid male dogs. But the tumors on Percy the dog do shrink, and the male dogs leave after Herriot takes the dog off those particular meds.
Herriot remembers some unique ways that clients have sought his services, in Chapter 27. One particular client was in the office but drunk, and thought he was talking on the phone. Some of his clients were not always sure they needed a vet, and some wanted him to decide without even seeing the animal, if a farm call was needed. Often, his clients will give him descriptions that are not clear when they call, so Herriot sometimes doesn’t know what he’ll find when he gets to the farm.
Herriot reminisces about Richard Carmody in Chapter 28. He was a student observer. He seems financially secure, and educated when Herriot first meets him. For his part, the observer is not impressed with the Skeldale House clinic, and the usage of old remedies. On his first day of farm calls with Herriot, he disagrees often and answers questions condescendingly. But a dog bites Carmody on the back-side, which does cause him to lose his poise.
Carmody has decided he wants to work on the animals himself in Chapter 29, and Herriot allows it. Carmody, for all his book learning, hasn’t any common sense. Herriot watches him chase pigs, drench a horse and bleed a pig. The last task must be taken over by Herriot. Later that day, Herriot watches a bull drag Carmody across a field covered with manure. Many years later, Herriot sees Carmody once more, and they share a minute together, during which Herriot believes he sees some warm emotion.
In Chapter 30, we meet Mr. Kitson, who used to attempt to deliver his lambs himself, so as not to have to pay a veterinarian. By the time Herriot arrives, there is one dead lamb, and the rest are more difficult to birth. Herriot also notices a sick ewe while he is there, but Kitson doesn’t want him to treat her. Knowing she will die, Herriot secretly gives her some anesthetic so that she can die in her sleep. As it turns out, when Herriot returns to the farm several days later, the sick ewe is better, having slept for a couple days. Herriot rightfully believes her days without pain allowed her to recover.
Herriot treats a poodle with gastroenteritis in Chapter 31. He uses various remedies, but none of them work. When they are so far along that euthanasia is discussed, Herriot puts the poodle into a deep sleep for several days, which gives her body time to recover. The dog recovers, to everyone’s delight.
We get to meet Sam in Chapter 32. He is Helen’s dog, a beagle, who accompanies Herriot on his farm calls. Next, the veterinarian remembers a time he was nearly smashed by a bull who just had an itch, and another time he attempts to treat a budgie’s beak, and the bird dies of fright. He cannot bring himself to tell the older owner, so he buys a new bird to replace the dead budgie.
Herriot attends to a worried owner whose dog is pregnant in Chapter 33. The dog isn’t near her due date yet, but the owner insists it’s time. Herriot attempts to explain that the dog’s cervix is not dilated, so she can’t have the pups yet. Siegfried makes the next call to the lady’s house, and by this time, the dog is ready to have her pups, so he administers the shot to give her contractions. The owner scolds Herriot the next time she sees him, saying he doesn’t know his job.
Mr. Wilkins’ dog, Gyp, has unexplained periodic convulsions. He recovers, but James tells the owner it will be a lifelong issue. Gyp also never barks, but his brother Sweep, who was given away turns into a great sheepdog for George Crossley. At the Mellerton Agricultural Show, Gyp sees Sweep running sheep and lets out one bark. After this, he never barks again.
James reminisces about the Daffodil Ball at the Drovers Arms. He sees Helen there dancing with Richard Edmundson and wants to ask her to dance but doesn’t get the chance and gets called away. On the way out, he runs into her and tells her to come with him. They kiss and then go up to Bert Chapman’s place where Susie, his dog is having puppies. James delivers the puppies and realizes that Helen is now his girlfriend.
James meets the Dimmocks, who bring him their dog Bonzo, who has been hit by a car. He patches him up and that begins a relationship with the entire Dimmock family. Then, the young daughter, Nellie brings in her puppy, Toby who can’t keep his food down. James realizes he has pyloric stenosis and calls Granville Bennet, who says he would be happy to operate.
Granville comes and operates on the dog and invites James to lunch at the Old Oak Tree Inn. Once there, James has a few whiskey and sodas. Then he goes to Granville’s house where his wife, Zoe makes them lunch. James has a hard time keeping himself together from all the alcohol he has consumed. The dog ends up recovering after the surgery.
Former steel worker, Frank Metcalfe, shows off his new barn and dairy to James. He has a cow that develops brucellosis, which may have infected the other cows. When they all start aborting, James’ fears are confirmed. Another farmer, Mr. Bagely says he has a cure, Professor Driscoll’s Abortion Cure. After giving it to the cows, some heifers have calves and Mr. Bagley say it is because of him. But then there are five more abortions, causing Metcalfe to have to sell everything and move.
James revels in his marriage to Helen and the domestic bliss she brings to Skeldale House. After a calving, Mr. Horner invites him into a breakfast of bread, butter, jam and 100% fat bacon that is eaten cold. Only by spooning tons of piccalilli on it, is James is able to gag it down.
Walt Barnett demands a horse be gelded and when James gets upset, Siegfried tries to calm him down and tells him he stresses out too much. Then Barnett calls again and irritates Siegfried and now it is James’ turn to laugh. Siegfried agrres to do the job but tells James he will overcharge him. He does the job, asks for 10 pounds and after a long period of silence, Barnett pays. Siegfried then manages to lose the check and makes James go back and get another one.
James comes back late from a job and ends up chatting and drinking all night with Siegfried who is leaving for the RAF in the morning. Siegfried says he owes James money, 50 pounds, and gives it to him before leaving. James only realizes years later that it was a gift.
Helen and James are invited to the Hodgsons for dinner. James has three jobs before dinner and he assumes they will not take that long. First, he goes to Edward Wiggins farm to give some vaccinations. While Wiggins fumbles around trying to catch a bullock, James gets angrier and angrier. He eventually gets run over and while he is resting, James and Wilf, the farmhand, catch and vaccinate the bull. Next, James has to go stitch up a pig who has a minor cut at the Misses Dunn’s farm. To get the pig to walk to where James can stitch it, they have to throw digestive biscuits in front if it. This takes forever because the pig will only walk if the biscuit is thrown close to him, so they have to throw a lot of biscuits to get the pig to where James wants it to go.
After James is done with the pig, it’s off to Ted buckle’s farm to put a ring in a bull’s nose. As he is about to the put in the ring, the bull jumps the gate and runs out into the field. James is panicking and he can’t even call Helen because the farm doesn’t have a phone. The farmer says it isn’t a problem and sends a cow out into the field and when he calls the cow back in the bull is following her. James is amazed and the farmer tell him his secret, the cow is the bull’s mother.
James sees Tristan’s car at a farm and wonders how he is doing. Tristan always seems to get along with the farmers, although this farmer is Mark Dowson, who can be difficult. Tristan puts on such a performance helping a cow give birth that he is invited in for brandy much to James’ amazement.
White scour infects Mr. Clark’s cows and they have to call out Jeff Mallock, the knacker. He says he will give them a day and James ends up curing the cows with a new drug, sulphapyridine. James thinks back about how this was the start of a drug revolution in antibiotics.
James is having a pint at the Drovers Arms and Magnus, a mini daschund barks at him. He remembers how he had to bandage his mouth shut the first time they met just to get his nails clipped. Magnus has obviously not forgotten. In contrast, James remembers Mrs. Hammond’s Irish Setter, Rock, who gets his foot stuck in a animal trap. Even though it is completely swollen and James has to clean and dress it for a week, Rock never minds. Another dog, Timmy Buttermark, a wire haired fox terrier, eats poison and James has to make him throw up by giving him lots of mustard. Much like Magnus, he never forgets and eyes James whenever he sees him.
James gets called up to military service on his birthday. He goes to help a Old English sheepdog, Benjmain who has a dislocated elbow. James manages to pop it back into place, amazing the farmer. He revels in the moment, knowing he will be back after the RAF.
James leaves for the RAF while Helen waves once more from the window.
Herriot is having a hard time with a calving in the dead of winter. The calf is not properly presented for delivery, and Herriot has to endure much nay-saying and second-guessing from the farmer’s uncle. After hours of struggling with the calf within the cow, Herriot is ready to give up, but then he gets the rope around the calf’s jaw and delivers a healthy calf. “Uncle” is sure that his veterinarian could have performed the task better.
Herriot remembers the day he came to talk to his would-be boss, Siegfried Farnon, with only a little hope that he would get a paid position. Times are bad in England, and most students that graduated with Herriot are lucky to find work just to pay their board. Herriot very much enjoys the English countryside, and is surprised when he meets Farnon that he’s not German, as Herriot expected, but a regular Englishman.
Herriot goes on farm calls with Farnon in this chapter. He is grateful to be doing real work, and feels that this is the best way to show Farnon that he is qualified for the position. Herriot has a draft horse lean on him for untold minutes, while he digs for an abscess in the animal’s hoof. At their last call he gets kicked by a cow. But he has survived his first day.
Farnon and Herriot stop at a pub after finishing their rounds, and Farnon hires the young vet, for wages plus board. After a talk with a local farmer who imparts a secret about marshmallow cream being the heal-all for hoof ailments, Herriot joins Farnon at the house where he will live, Skeldale House.
Herriot is anxious to go on a farm call by himself, and he does get that chance, but the horse he goes to see has a twisted intestine, and needs to be put down. The problem is that the stable manager expected that he could be made well, especially if Farnon had come. Soames calls later to complain about Herriot, but Farnon backs Herriot up.
Farnon performs a necropsy on the valuable hunter that Herriot put down in the last chapter. He finds that Herriot was correct in his diagnosis. Herriot meets Tristan, Farnon’s younger brother, who is not like his older brother at all. Tristan has flunked both of his veterinary courses, which Farnon is paying for, and is sternly lectured. He accepts it graciously.
With Tristan and Herriot both on board, the practice settles into a stable routine. Tristan is a bit lazy about taking morning calls, which earns him more chastising by Siegfried. After working on some nearly-wild cattle, Herriot relaxes and enjoys the countryside he has found himself in, and thinks he will do well here.
In this chapter, Herriot learns that the elder Farnon is a lady’s man and someone who constantly contradicts himself. The contradictions fluster Herriot, and in this chapter, Farnon tells Herriot the wrong farm to drive to, then insists he didn’t, and then mildly berates Herriot for abusing his fine car, which is actually an old and junky car.
Tristan and Siegfried play jokes on each other, but whereas Tristan’s usually work, his older brother cannot often get Tristan to fall for any of his pranks. Later, Herriot himself tricks Tristan, telling him that a uterus they spent all afternoon pushing back into a cow has worked its way out again.
Herriot is settling into the life in Darrowby, and the townspeople and farmers are becoming more accepting of him, since he does know how to do his job. Still, he is not at all used to the laid back pace of the farmers. One family has asked him to take them to a concert he is also attending, but they proceed to eat a sumptuous lunch, and eventually Herriot is late to the concert, and has to endure the irritation of the other audience members.
This chapter tells the sad story of an elderly man in a poor section of town, whose old dog is sick. Herriot checks the dog and finds a tumor that is not operable. As much as he hates to tell the man, the dog must be put down. The old man agrees, and kneels down to tell his old dog good-bye. Herriot injects the dog, and refuses to accept money for the shot. The dog dies peacefully, and the old man gives Herriot a cigar in thanks.
In this chapter, Siegfried assigns Tristan to collect money on the day everyone comes in to pay. He seems to do well, and is congenial with the patrons, but has not yet recorded any transactions in the ledger when the payment book goes missing. So, the customers who have already paid still are billed the next month, and this does not generate any good will for the practice.
One of Herriot’s easy patients is Tricky Woo, a little dog who is owned by a rich older lady. She spends lots of money on the dog, but feeds him too much fat, which Herriot is always trying to get her to stop. Tricky Woo sends treats to Skeldale House, and Herriot learns that he must talk to the dog just like he would a person.
Farnon hires a book-keeper, to avoid another debacle with the books, but she is harsh with him when she finds out that they just stuff the receipts into a pot on a shelf. She tells them they will need to be more organized, and she is a tough lady.
Siegfried decides he’d like to have fresh eggs and bacon for breakfast, so he gets some hens and pigs and tells Tristan it’s his job to look after them. The group ends up with hens up in the trees and Siegfried sells them. Although they never laid one egg at Skeldale house, they are excellent layers at the next farm, because Tristan was not careful about what he fed them.
Tristan does better with the piglets than the hens, but they grow very large, and are always knocking him down when he tries to feed them. One time, he left the gate open, and they trampled him and escaped. They are all rounded up except one, but then Tristan finds that Siegfried’s new hunter mare got loose, and they have to travel to a neighbors house to pick her up.
The new book-keeper is very upset with Siegfried, because he keeps taking money out of petty cash whenever he needs it, but doesn’t leave a note as to how much he took or what it was for. In addition, she describes his poor receipt penmanship, and those are only on the few occasions when he actually remembers to write them down.
Herriot recalls a lesson learned, in this chapter. After having only seen a diagram of a horse in veterinary school, he decides he knows everything about horses. He sees an old, sway-backed coal cart horse, and attempts to soothe him. The horse picks him up and hangs onto him by his fancy coat until the owner returns. Herriot is properly humbled.
Herriot attends a party for Tricky-Woo, and discovers just how much he is being overfed by his loving owner. He gently chastises her and shows her the correct amount to feed the dog. Herriot drinks too much at the party, and then gets called out on a farm call in the middle of the night. He falls asleep trying to deliver a pig, since he is still tipsy from the drinking, and the farmer has to wake him up. The rest of the pigs are soon delivered.
The new book-keeper is the latest to be flustered by Siegfried’s contradictions. He tells her the money box has to be kept full, even though he empties it at will, and tells her all the bills need to go out the first of the month, even though he doesn’t give her many receipts for the work he has done himself. She is truly on the receiving end of this frustrating phenomenon.
A dog is slow in coming around after surgery in this chapter. Farnon and Herriot go on their rounds, leaving Tristan to watch the dog, who is howling constantly. He is still howling when they return from their rounds, and Tristan is drunk. The dog wakes up, and Siegfried tells Tristan to take him to his room, where it’s safe, and then the dog paces all night. Tristan is fit to be tied, and the next day, the dog finally gets to go home.
Herriot takes a dog to another vet’s office, since it is his patient, and the vet performs surgery. He wants Herriot to take the dog back, but not until the anesthesia wears off. So Herriot is stuck going on a farm call with the other vet, who has none of the pleasant characteristics that most Scotsmen do. The vet asks for his help, but he is dressed in a suit. The vet gives him a black coverall to wear, so that he can help, but he doesn’t end up needing to do much. The other vet has a good laugh at Herriot’s expense.
Herriot treats a cow with a calcium deficiency, even though the owner thinks she is dying. There are newer injectables now, and they work very well. They take the cow and her calf back to the barn, from the stream where she had been laying. Herriot is invited for breakfast, and has an excellent meal. Later, the book-keeper at Skeldale House and Farnon are arguing again, and she is winning until he takes a note she wrote for him and shreds it.
Siegfried wants Tristan to leave the house for a night, but Tristan wants to go to a dance in the village. Siegfried picks the worst task he can think of for Tristan, working on the ear of a mean old sow. Tristan makes several trips to the farm, and returns with different excuses about why he couldn’t take care of the sow. Siegfried sends him out yet again. Finally, Tristan tells Herriot that the sow wouldn’t let him in her pen, but he finally got so mad that he chased her around. As it turns out, the sow is a coward, and burst her ear growth on the wall.
Spring finally comes to the Dales after a long and bitter winter. Herriot learns about lambing, and also about how quickly the lambs can find their ewes after being corralled for vaccinations. Then he learns about foaling, which is a lot harder than delivering lambs. Even harder is the castration of the male horses that will not be used at stud. They used to drug and throw the colts and do the procedure on the ground, but the new method leaves the colts standing up. Herriot is supposed to work on a horse that turns out to be a six year old stallion, and he is afraid to do it. He hopes that Farnon will do the horse, but he doesn’t. Finally, Herriot has to work on the horse, and the horse kicks him in the leg. Herriot realizes that fear is worse than the hurt leg.
Herriot calls on a farmer with six sick steers. The farmer is waiting for some new-fangled diagnosis and treatment, since Herriot is young and fresh out of veterinary school. Instead, Herriot tells him the animals have lead poisoning, and to give them Epsom salts. The farmer is disappointed at the old-school remedy, but it works. Later, the man has a bull who is down and has a temperature of 110. Once again, he expects a new remedy, but the bull has heat stroke, so Herriot has the men spray him with water, which effectively cures him. Once again, the man is disappointed that he never got to see newer methods used.
Farnon wants the vets to display more professionalism, so he takes them along on a farm call, after donning a white lab coat. Time and again, Farnon tries to get the wire from a cow’s second stomach. Finally, he decides to lance the stomach, since there is a build up of gas. He is thoroughly sprayed and quite ill-smelling all the way home. Tristan and Herriot hang their heads out the car windows, but Farnon declares that the day was a success.
We meet the knacker in this chapter. He is the man who hauls away dead animals and renders them. He also checks for cause of death. One farmer wants to collect on insurance for a cow that he says was struck by lightning, but Herriot says the animal died of heart failure. The farmer goes to the knacker for a second opinion, and he finds a tumor that caused the heart to fail. The farmer is left with neither expert able or willing to help him get insurance money for the dead cow.
The farmer who couldn’t get the insurance money still uses the practice at Skeldale House, after complaining to Farnon about the cow’s cause of death. Siegfried sends Tristan to deliver ointment to Cranford, the cow farmer, and he also tells him to drop a fecal sample off at a local laboratory. Instead, Tristan accidentally mixes up the packages and Cranford is rubbing fecal matter onto his cows, which gives everyone at the practice a laugh.
Tricki-Woo is very ill in this chapter, having been overfed to the point of being near death. Herriot decides he needs two weeks away from his owner to regain his health, which worries her to no end. After with-holding food for two days, they bring him up to one meal a day, and he loses weight playing with Siegfried’s dogs, as well. When he recovers, his owner thinks it is a miracle of modern science, when it was just proper feeding.
Herriot is called out in the middle of the night, for a mare who is having trouble foaling. He goes out in his pajamas, with a coat over them. He repositions the foal properly inside the mare, and it is born without any further issues. Herriot drives to the local cafe, forgetting he is wearing only pajamas and a coat. He orders coffee and a sandwich, but hasn’t brought his wallet, so the waitress gives him his coffee on the house. The other people in the cafe joke about his clothing, thinking him possibly a prison escapee.
Herriot goes out to check a cow that is down, and despite some help, she will not rise. He hears a noise in her bones and decides that she has a broken pelvis and probably will not walk again. Of course, as these things go, the cow gets up the next day, and Farnon explains to Herriot that sometimes cows have a weakening of the ligaments after they have a calf, and of course the farmer tells anyone who will listen about the cow that Herriot said would never get up again, but who did.
Tricky-Woo’s owner has bought a pig, and she keeps it in the kitchen, much to the chagrin of her cooks, since pigs definitely have their own odor. Herriot convinces her that the place for pigs is outdoors. He checks the pig once because the owner thinks he is sick, stopping and starting during urination, which is normal for pigs. Now Herriot has two nephews, and Farnon gives him some grief at having a pig for a nephew, but he gets more treats and gifts.
Dr. Grier, the other vet in the area, needs help at his practice, and Herriot goes, but is not happy about it. He gets plain porridge three meals a day. He is called out for a cow who has a prolapsed uterus, and Grier tells him not to put in retention sutures. Herriot does as he is told, even though he normally puts in the sutures. Predictably, they get a call that her uterus is back out, and Dr. Grier reinserts her uterus and then puts in the stitches he told Herriot not to, while Herriot must listen to comments about his less than adequate veterinary skills.
Dr. Grier falls sick again, so Herriot must help him once more. A client calls and says her dog has a bone in his throat, but Grier tells Herriot that it will actually be pharyngitis. Herriot examines the dog, who appears fine, and tells the owner what Dr. Grier told him to tell her. As it turns out, Dr. Grier is having an affair with the woman who owns the dog, and there is nothing wrong with the dog. An assistant is hired by Dr. Grier, and Herriot happily returns to Skeldale House, even though the first thing he hears there is the Farnon brothers arguing.
Herriot works on the cow of a poor farmer. The cow has mastitis, and even after treatment and cleaning, she will never produce milk from all of her teats. The farmer gladly says he will clean her out if it means he can still milk her at all. The next morning, Herriot stops by to check on the cow, and the farmer has spent the whole night cleaning his cow out, and she is doing better. The farmer, dead on his feet, nevertheless goes on to his other job.
Farnon watches Herriot stitching up a dog at Skeldale House, and tells him he’s using too much suture material. Farnon finishes himself, using the bare minimum. When they go to suture up a foal together, Herriot remembers the lecture and only uses a bit of catgut at a time. Farnon is frustrated, and pulls off a huge length, so much that he must stand to stitch. Farnon chastises Herriot in front of the farmer about not being so thrifty, and Herriot just grumbles at this latest contradiction.
We learn about Mr. Worley, a pig-breeder, in this chapter. He is very successful, contrary to what the locals believe he should be. Herriot becomes one of Mr. Worley’s favorites when he works on a sow’s foot, and the breeder has him over to his inn for liquor, against local regulations. Worley has a pig give birth and then not produce milk, but Herriot gives her a shot that helps almost immediately. He shares a round at the inn, not realizing he bought the round. After he leaves, the bar is raided by a visiting constable, and they are fined. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone, though.
Tristan drives Herriot to a farm call in this chapter, since Herriot has an infection in his arm. They are driving the older Austin, since Tristan had an accident in his car the same week. After the call, they are relaxing, until they see the Austin rolling down the hill, since Tristan forgot to set the parking brake. The car spews veterinary instruments all over and crashes into a shed. The car is none the worse for wear, but the shed is destroyed. It was leased by a local golf club. The farmer says he won’t tell anyone what happened. The next day, Farnon is still ill and Tristan and Herriot have to use his Land Rover. Someone sideswipes them, and the Land Rover is damaged. Tristan tells Siegfried and the elder Farnon fires the younger again, but they both know he doesn’t really mean it.
Herriot is called to look at an injured calf, and he can’t find it at the farm, so he knocks at the house. A young lady named Helen takes him to the place where the cow is. Herriot puts a cast on the calf’s leg, and has a pleasant talk with Helen. He learns from the Farnons that Helen is popular with the men, but picky about who she dates.
Herriot does a spell of work as a veterinary inspector, which means checking all the local cattle for tuberculosis. At the first farm, six calves cannot be caught, until a neighbor with a unique skill imitates a fly, and all the cows come running.
Herriot is already behind on time on his TB testing, after that first farm. At the second farm, he has to clean all the ears of the cattle, because the farmers can’t remember which is which. Herriot realizes he needs to schedule fewer farms per day to check, and the rest of the farmers this day are angry with him. Some have even turned their cows back out, since they think he’s not coming. They don’t like to clean the barns, so the cows are usually left outside in the summer. At the next farm, no one is there but the cows are in, so Herriot starts checking them. One particular cow keeps pummeling him and kicking him, so he pulls his way into the hayloft. The farmer is amused. At the last farm, Herriot checks the last cow in line, only to find he’s checking a bull, instead. This farmer is also amused by Herriot.
Miss Stubbs is a poor, older woman, who has five animals, all but one of which is ill. Herriot visits her often, helping the sick animals. After a favorite dog, Ben, dies, she says that she’ll be next. She passes away and Herriot hears about it second-hand. He rushes to her house, fearing for her animals. But they have been taken in by her housekeeper, and they greet him like the old friend he is.
Herriot is trying to woo Helen Alderson, whom he met on a farm call. He goes to concerts she attends, since she likes music, but he is too shy to make much headway. When they clean up after a concert, he asks her out and she agrees. But he is worried that he might have pressured her into accepting.
After discussing an article that says small animal breeders love their animals more than do breeders of large animals, Herriot goes out to float the teeth of two horses, at a successful farm owned by John Skipton. Herriot discovers the horses are older, with so much white hair that they look like roans. They are indeed older horses, who need their teeth kept floated and smooth, so that they can digest their food. Skipton says the horses were slaves when he was. He obviously cares very much for them. One horse has two long, sharp teeth, and he doesn’t even react when Herriot is able to snap them off, since he is used to good care.
Herriot’s assistant passes out during a bloody surgery, and this reaffirms his belief that large men are more prone to this. He remembers another occasion when he asked for help and a big man volunteered. He, too, passed out, and the small farm owner came to assist Herriot. He has one farmer pay him money before his work begins, and he will wait until after the castrations to give the man his change. The man faints, so Herriot leaves the change, which wakes the man up, and he says he’s short on his change.
Mr. Sidlow always waits until the last minute to call the veterinarian, causing his animals to be in pain for longer than they need to be. This man has been a client of Siegfried’s, but now Herriot has him. The current call is for a bullock that swallowed something, and the farmer has tried to push it down his throat, and in the process cut his windpipe. Herriot tells him that the bullock must be put down, but the man does not agree. Herriot signs a form stating that the meat is alright to buy for butchering. Later, Herriot is called to a local track to stitch up a horse, and he is nervous, since the horse’s usual vet is very well-known as an excellent veterinarian. The stable boy gives him a tip on a good bet, and Herriot goes to the bank and gets out money to bet, then changes clothes and is ready to head back to the track when Mr. Sidlow calls Skeldale House. He has a gravely ill cow, and by the time Herriot gets to the track, the race is over, and the 10-1 horse he had a tip on has won.
Herriot will take Helen on their first date today. Herriot has a quickly-altered suit that is out of style and fits poorly and then after he picks Helen up, their car ends up on a road that is washed out. They go to her house for shoes, and he has to wear an ill-fitting pair of her father’s shoes. Add to this a flat tire, and the fact that he needed a hotel reservation to eat at the hotel restaurant. The date feels uncomfortable to Herriot, and he’s sure that Helen hadn’t wanted to go, anyway.
The brakes in the Austin are shot, and Herriot has to drive it for some time like this, since Siegfried always forgets to have it done. Finally Siegfried has to drive the car, with Herriot along, and he has a very hard time stopping the car. Afterwards, he chides Herriot for “not telling him” about the brakes. Herriot just remains silent.
Mr. Denham is a millionaire but still plays football pools. He makes vet calls to Siegfried, since he won a pool once, on betting days, but they are always non-serious issues. He just wants to know who to pick in the pool. When Herriot is called to see Denham’s Great Dane, she is afraid he is there to steal her newborn pups, and she bites him nastily in the leg. Siegfried jokes about it until he sees how badly the dog bit Herriot.
It is Herriot’s second winter in Yorkshire, and there is more snow than the previous year. Herriot drives as close as he can to his farm call, but has to get out and walk. The snowfall picks up and he wanders around, quite lost, until he ends up at the right farm. The farmer says it seems like a plain day.
Farnon half-listens to Herriot detailing a case, and he hears the details wrong. Herriot repeats himself, but Farnon still doesn’t catch it. He tells Herriot that after he has been a vet for awhile, he won’t be so easily confused. This irritates Herriot. Herriot speaks to Tristan afterward, and the younger Farnon says it’s probably not Siegfried who is bothering Herriot, but the events with Helen. Herriot suspects that Tristan is right.
A poor farmer named Rudd has finally saved up enough money to buy a cow, and he is pleased when he can finally get her. Herriot gets along well with the family, and discovers that the way Mrs. Rudd feeds all 7 kids is feeding lots of pudding so they’re not as hungry for the main course. Sadly, the new cow develops a throat abscess, and while he treats it, she steadily gets worse. The family appreciates his efforts, but this just makes him feel guilty.
Herriot finally decides to lance the abscess on the cow’s neck, but fears she is too far gone. Instead, she recovers, and he and the Rudds are very happy that she is back to her regular self again. Herriot looks back now, knowing how much harder everything was back then, and wishes he had some of our techniques and medicines in earlier years.
The worst problem at Skeldale House practice is customers that won’t pay. The non-payers are usually quite charming, but they don’t pay their bills. Farnon’s favorite non-payer is a man called The Major, who lived in Darrowby for three years and never paid anyone anything. He was so charming that he just got away with it.
There are also non-payers who are not charming. One such man is the local butcher. He always expects the veterinarians to drop whatever they are doing and attend to his animals, but he doesn’t pay his bills. Herriot helps deliver twin calves for the man, and they both live, which is unusual. The butcher offers some sausage for Herriot’s efforts, but Herriot asks him how much they are and pays for them, to try to prove a point.
Herriot double-dates with Tristan in this chapter, but although his date is nice, he only thinks of Helen. Herriot and his date, Connie, get drunk and then eat too much filling food. They end up outside in the mud, sine they feel sick. Later, back inside, he and Connie run into Helen, and Herriot is completely mortified.
In this chapter, Herriot recalls stories about some of the people who live in the Yorkshire area. He remembers farmers who had extraordinary animals, as well as farmers who seemed unable to get along with anyone, and farmers who tried to live life on the land but couldn’t make it. One lady from a farm brings Herriot kittens to heal, and he is happy to be able to help her with a new vaccines and equally happy to hear from the farmer later on, that they are now cats.
Herriot meets gypsy’s who have a foundering black and white pinto pony in this chapter. Founder is serious and can easily kill a horse even today, but Herriot and Farnon bleed the pony and tell the owners to let him stand in a stream a few minutes at a time, many times each day. Days later, they see the gypsy’s leaving, and the pony is fine.
Helen brings her dog Dan into the practice and asks for Herriot. The dog has a dislocated hip, and he and Helen work together to pop it back into place. Mrs. Hall makes tea for Herriot and Helen, and Herriot calls later that day to check on the dog, who is better. While on the phone, he asks Helen out and she happily agrees.
Rich and poor families are recalled in this chapter. In the rich family, the wife and daughter blame the father for their dog’s condition, which he could not have caused. Herriot notices the man’s hands shaking, and decides he may have Parkinson’s, or he may be an alcoholic. Later Herriot sees a poor family, where everyone pitches in to help, and the daughter is headed to town to get her father something, with money she saved herself. The difference between the two families is striking to Herriot.
Herriot and Helen’s second date begins at the cinema, where the usher laughs at the veterinarian since he’s there with a date. A man in the theater berates Herriot for supposedly misdiagnosing an animal, and then a drunk collapses in the chair next to Herriot, and snores for the rest of the movie. Instead of a Scottish film as the second half of the double-feature, it’s a western, and Helen laughs in amusement. She suggests that on the next date they go for a walk, and Herriot is happy because she said “next time”.
Farnon has a chance to go to work as the supervising veterinarian for a racing circuit, but he would have to leave his home behind. They are at the track, checking over a horse, when a veterinarian that Farnon knows comes up. Farnon and Herriot drag the other vet away from the area.
The visiting vet, Herriot and Farnon go to a club and have a meal and drinks. But then Farnon remembers the people waiting for him, and they are quite angry. Farnon has made a horrible impression on the people from the Racing Circuit, and he says that’s OK, because he really didn’t want to leave Darrowby.
Herriot and Helen are getting along famously, but her father seems to dislike him. Back at Skeldale House, Farnon tells Herriot that if he marries Helen, they can live in a private room upstairs. Farnon is afraid that Herriot’s timidity will result in them never marrying. Herriot will soon be a partner in the practice, and he decides he will ask Helen. She says yes, but now they have to tell her father.
Herriot has cleaned a cow and smells awful, so he borrows Mrs. Hall’s bath salts, which are very flowery. After his bath, he falls asleep upstairs. He is called out early in the morning on a farm call to Helen’s father’s farm, and Mr. Alderson notices the weird flowery smell on Herriot. Herriot helps the cow to have her calf, and then tells Mr. Alderson of his plan to marry Helen. They go in Alderson’s house and share some drinks, and the man opens up about how much he loved and misses his deceased wife. Alderson drinks too much and Herriot has to help him upstairs, and he feels they are getting along better.
It’s TB testing time, but also Herriot and Helen’s wedding and honeymoon time. Farnon complains about having to do all the testing himself, so they honeymoon close by, so Herriot can help. As they are leaving their wedding, they see a new shingle at Skeldale House. Farnon has made Herriot a full partner. Helen and Herriot spend their honeymoon inspecting cows and enjoying each other’s company.
Jim Wight, AKA, James Herriot was born today, Oct 3, 1916.
Brian Sinclair was born today, Sept 27, 1915. He was the inspiration for Tristan Farnon.