Here are two important quotes rom the beginning of the book, as well as an analysis of these quotes:
No, there wasn’t a word in the books about searching for your ropes and instruments in the shadows; about trying to keep clean in a half bucket of tepid water; about the cobbles digging into your chest. Nor about the slow numbing of the arms, the creeping paralysis of the muscles as the fingers tried to work against the cow’s powerful expulsive efforts. There was no mention anywhere of the gradual exhaustion, the feeling of futility and the little far-off voice of panic.
In this quote from the first chapter of the book, Herriot tries to help a cow give birth, and he reflects on how different the practice of veterinary medicine in a rural area is from what he learned at school. His academic preparation did not ready him for the difficulty and exhaustion of real-life practice in relatively primitive conditions with actual animals and farmers.
"Not much small animal work in this district." Farnon smoothed the table with his palm. "But I’m trying to encourage it. It makes a pleasant change from lying on your belly in a cow house. The thing is, we’ve got to do the job right. The old castor oil and prussic acid doctrine is no good at all. You probably know that a lot of the old hands won’t look at a dog or a cat, but the profession has got to change its ideas.”
In this quote from Chapter 3, Siegfriend Farnon, who runs the veterinary practice that Herriot goes to work at, speaks about the way he plans to modernize the practice. While small animals are not yet a large part of the practice, Farnon wants to make them more of the practice. He plans to use more modern methods of treatment in his practice, though these ideas could take some time to catch on in the rural area where they work.