June 30th marks the last day of work at the Harmony Vet Clinic for Dr. Lynn Aggen. It will be a bittersweet day for both the clinic staff and our clients. We are thankful to Dr. Lynn for his leadership and service to the clinic.
Lynn Aggen grew up on a farm in the Worthington area. His mother tells the story of his first declaration to become a vet as an incident when he was about 10 years old. A steer got into the alfalfa and became bloated. A neighbor came over to cut him open to release the pressure and the local vet, Dr. Onken, came to “fix the hole”. That experience led him to Worthington Community College after high school graduation in 1967. From there he attended the University of Minnesota until graduation in 1973. He held many different jobs during his years of schooling including: working for local farmers, working for the packing plant in Worthington (Armour), working for Campbell Soup, and working for the MN State Highway Department. The highway department was probably most memorable for the amount of “lunch” breaks that were scheduled during the day.
At the end of his junior year in college, Lynn came to Harmony with a classmate (Dan Bushard) and a professor to investigate some breeding problems Dr. Andy and Dr. Bob were having with a dairy herd. That was his first introduction to the area and the confusion that comes with finding your way around the local roads. In 1972 the Harmony Vet Clinic was looking to hire another vet. Those were booming times for the agriculture industry and there were many choices for Dr. Lynn. His decision was made by having admired the doctors on his visit, him and Barb liking the area for the terrain, and the opportunity to have every third weekend off and no scheduled appointments on Saturdays.
Although not sure of the actual date, Dr. Lynn remembers his first day being a Monday and his first day on emergency call being the first Wednesday at work. To quote him, “big mistake”. Dr. Andy and Dr. Bob wanted to go golfing with a classmate so Dr. Lynn volunteered to help out. In those years, all calls came directly to the vet’s home with his wife and/or kids being the message takers. Of course, the calls that evening were numerous. He remembers dealing with sick pigs and milk fevers while Barb was at home trying to take calls and write down directions to these farmer’s places. With no street signs or google maps to help, it was overwhelming to say the least. Thankfully Dr. Andy and Dr. Bob finished golfing and came back to help take some of the calls.
One of his most memorable calls came early in his career. On the second week of work in Harmony he was called out to an OB at Leland Heusinkveld’s. He drove up to see the 19-month-old heifer with the calf’s feet protruding and chains hooked on. After determining that the calf wasn’t going to come naturally, he, as a 23-year-old new vet, told Leland, a school teacher who was very precise and very respectful of the veterinary profession, that he thought he would need to do a c-section. Leland’s response was, “well, you’re the doctor, do what you need to do” and they proceeded with the surgery. After suturing the uterus and starting on the next layer Leland asked Dr. Lynn if he knew where the chains from the front feet were. Thankfully they ended up being found in the straw and Dr. Lynn never made the mistake of not ensuring all the equipment was accounted for before starting to suture again.
When asked about the biggest changes he’s seen over the years, Dr. Lynn replies with the changes in dairy farms. When he first started, the clinic did over 100 fertility checks per week. Beef farms have remained constant but he’s certainly seeing more horses now that ever. Another big change is the technology. From using two-way radios to cell phones and using voice mail and google maps, life as a vet has certainly changed. Thankfully the families of vets don’t have to answer phones and take messages any longer.
Dr. Lynn is looking forward to his retirement time for completing tasks around the farm and for completing the list of tasks Barb has compiled for him. He will be spending time with his family, and continuing to work with and mentor young people through 4-H, FFA, and the Simmental Association.
Lynn’s legacy at the clinic is his service to the clients. He has always considered service to be the most important part of our business. Many know they can call and expect him to answer at any time. We know he will continue to be a source of information for our clients and we look forward to staying committed to putting our clients first. He speaks fondly of the people in the area being kind to him and to the clinic. We agree with that sentiment and appreciate our client’s devotion to us.