Neal and Barbara Caldwell in front of their garden

WOUB Member Spotlight: Neal and Barbara Caldwell

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The Caldwells have been members of WOUB since 1985

ATHENS, OH – Neal and Barbara Caldwell of Coshocton are big fans of All Creatures Great and Small on Masterpiece, which aired on WOUB, because in a way they have lived it.

“I was a large animal veterinarian. I dealt primarily with dairy and beef cattle and of course sheep,” said Neal. “Early in my career, we lived and worked in northern New Zealand and at that time there were 20 sheep for every person living in New Zealand.”

There was a shortage of veterinarians in New Zealand and the benefits offered to the Caldwells to bring Neal’s talents to Kaitaia were too good to pass up.

“The stories I have from that time are very similar to those of James Herriot,” said Neal laughing. “You had the emergency calls on a Saturday or Sunday where you’d come back covered in mud as well as other items. One time, I diagnosed a cow with milk fever and having difficulty giving birth. Milk fever is a lack of calcium in the cow’s blood resulting in paralysis of many of the cow’s muscles contributing to the cow’s inability to give birth to her calf. We needed to get the calf out and then treat the milk fever. Well, the colon becomes relaxed during labor especially with milk fever, so when the farmer and I pulled the calf out, three or more gallons of warm, grassy digestive fecal material spewed all over me. I was covered from head to toe.”

“You also had the Mrs. Pumphreys of the world, who were the delightfully eccentric owners of companion animals,” said Barbara.

Barbara was a nurse and worked in the surgery theater, or what we would call the operating room, at a hospital in Kaitaia.

“It was an interesting adventure, and we made many lifelong friends,” said Barbara.

When the Caldwells moved back to the United States in the 1970s, they came home to Ohio and settled in West Lafayette.

“We wanted to be close to our parents. My parents lived in Belmont County, and Barbara’s parents were near Cleveland,” said Neal. “But we also needed to find a place that needed the services of a large animal veterinarian. Coshocton County had 50 to 60 full time dairy family farms at the time and had not had a new vet move to town for several years.”

While West Lafayette/Coshocton was rural enough to support Neal’s work, it was also so rural that television and radio stations were hard to pick up. That’s when the Caldwells discovered WOUB.

“We love NPR. I like the news. It’s something I want to listen to and learn from it,” said Barbara. “I’m sensitive to noise, and I appreciate that the voices on NPR are smooth and calm. We have NPR on all the time in our kitchen.”

“We use our WOUB Passport frequently to watch the television programming,” said Neal. “In addition to All Creatures Great and Small on Masterpiece, we enjoy NOVA, Nature, PBS NewsHour, Washington Week, Masterpiece, and all of the Ken Burns documentaries.  Neither of us are country music fans, but we really enjoyed Ken Burns’ Country Music.”

The Caldwells, who are both retired, enjoy travelling. But since travel has not been safe during the pandemic, they have turned to their love of gardening to keep busy. They have a huge garden and faithfully watch PBS gardening programs to give them ideas.

“I was a practicing master gardener for years,” said Barbara. “I like to propagate trees and plants. Neal grows sweet corn and other vegetables.”

While Neal has enjoyed working in their garden, he is also a bicyclist and looks forward to biking with friends or just a relaxing ride into the Amish countryside to end the day.

“The Amish community is located just north of us, so I’ve been riding that direction since there are nice roads with minimal traffic. I have done the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) in the past. I hope that returns soon.”

The Caldwells are thankful to have WOUB, NPR and PBS to turn to for reliable news and information, especially during the pandemic.

“If there were only one TV channel we could get, I would want it to be PBS and WOUB,” said Barbara.

“Public media is the most unbiased source of information,” said Neal. “WOUB provides an important service to the Appalachian region by providing unbiased information and calmly presenting the facts.”