Country Vet, Community Soap Factory, and Other Personal Profiles

A country vet and the founder of a community soap factory are among the subjects covered in this installment of an ongoing series profiling self-reliant people.

| March/April 1979

The following personal profiles are offered In celebration of little-known MOTHER EARTH NEWS-type folks from all over. 

Country Vet

Twenty-nine-year-old LuAnn Arney has been practicing veterinary medicine in the vicinity of Highlandville, Iowa since her graduation from veterinary school in 1973. Dr. Arney treats all varieties of animals but,  "horses are my specialty." Like most doctors, LuAnn is frequently called out in the middle of the night, sometimes in subzero weather. And often—especially in those cases where a pet is involved —the doctor finds she must "care for" an entire family in addition to the sick animal.

Once, for example, LuAnn was called in to help deliver a colt that was being born upside down. The mare was a family favorite, and all through the delivery the children of the household looked on and cried. Finally it was clear that the colt would not live, but—to the delight of the youngsters—LuAnn did save the mare.

"I can identity with the owners of the animals I treat," declares LuAnn, "because I've often been in their position myself." A vast assortment of creatures roam Dr. Arney's homestead grounds. Some of them, of course, are under her professional care, but many are her own. "I love each and every one of them," LuAnn asserts, "but my team of mules—Emma, Mercy, and Libby—are the closest to my heart." The doctor hitches these beasts to her spring wagon to make calls on neighborhood patients. "I'd like to use the mules exclusively to conserve gasoline," says LuAnn. "But when time is a factor, it isn't always feasible."

Dr. Arney is deeply concerned with today's waste of natural resources and sorely wishes she could turn the clock back to the days before pollution and concrete overtook our lush, green land. "We must all get back to a simpler way of life," she says. And that's exactly what LuAnn has done at her homestead farmhouse. It's equipped complete with potbellied, wood-burning stove, outhouse, backyard water pump, and handmade furniture. (The farmstead chairs were hewn from sections of logs, and the kitchen table—which has served as an operating table on occasion—was constructed of heavy planks.)

Dr. Arney is also skilled in the art of tanning hides: She covers her pelts with a mixture of soap, salt, and the brains of the skinned animal, and then stretches the skins over wooden frames to dry. Some of the hides were acquired in LuAnn's college days from folks who'd tried to make pets of wild animals and lost them to disease or accident. Other hides have been salvaged from animals killed by cars.

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