Our four-year-old grandson does his part to herd the cattle down the road by waving his cap in order to encourage them along. His dad takes a bit more active approach as he runs along behind the critters!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dances With Bulls

I would give much to have a photo to go with this entry, and a video would be even better.  But alas, when the events I describe below were unfolding, I was too worried about Farmer John's safety to even think of picking up my camera. 

We had received a call that one of our bulls was in a pasture with the neighbor's cattle.  Farmer John was positive it was not our bull.  Although there is a pasture of twenty of our  heifers right next door to this neighbor's property, John's nearest pasture with a bull in it is three miles away.  However, when we investigated, there was a large black bull grazing contentedly amidst the neighbor's cows and calves, and he had our brand on his right hip.

Sometimes a highly unlikely set of circumstances intersect to form what we call a coincidence, and that  was the case here.  The unlikely event was that this bull had evidently hiked three miles down a country road, taking two turns along the way; and the coincidence is that he chose as his new home a pasture right next to one of ours.

I picture him ambling by our pasture of heifers.  He recognizes them by their brands as a kindred herd, but already having proven himself as the type who likes to stray, steps over the adjacent fence and walks right over to those enticingly unfamiliar cows.  "Helloooo Girls!" 

Farmer John had been meaning to move a bull into the pasture next door anyway.  He didn't spend much time puzzling over the logistics of the bull's arrival in a pasture right next to the one needing a bull, and decided to take advantage of the situation. 

He sprinkled some corn chop on the ground and the bull obligingly ambled right to it with a trail of cows following. Farmer John quickly opened a corner gate between the two pastures, stepped between the bull and his new harem, and it appeared all was going to go beautifully according to John's plan.  The bull was about a foot from the open gate when he changed his mind.  He could clearly see the heifers wearing his brand in the pasture beyond, and evidently did not feel that he had completed the task of sowing wild oats on the other side of the fence.  He turned his 1800 pounds of bulk with amazing quickness and there was Farmer John, armed only with a feed sack, standing in his way. 

The bull feinted to the right, and Farmer John, arms outspread in a wrestler's crouch, feed sack in hand, followed the movement.  The bull moved left and Farmer John smacked him on the nose with the feed sack.  The bull's huge head drew back and his eyes squinted closed, but he did not stop moving his feet.  Thankfully, he is a gentle bull and faced with  this puny human's interference he did not lower his head and charge.  They began a rhythmic side-to-side dance punctuated with John's swats on the bull's  nose with the sack: left, right, smack, left, right, smack....

I closed my eyes tightly and prayed aloud, "Lord protect John, Lord protect John, Lord protect John..."  I should have added "...and let the bull go in" to my plea, because as I opened my eyes to take one more terrified glance at the proceedings, the bull turned, nimbly squeezed between a tree and the fence, and galloped back into the midst of the neighbor's herd. 

Farmer John climbed back into the driver's seat of the pickup and grinned at me.  "Well, THAT didn't go the way I wanted," he said.  He was acting nonchalant about the whole situation, but I noticed that his shirt was glued to his back with perspiration and that he'd thrown his farm cap onto the seat between us, which usually signals some degree of irritation.  I wisely made no comment regarding John's dance with the bull.  However,  after a few minutes had passed I said, "I think I'll name that bull, "Dancer."  John cast a sidelong glance at me but said nothing. 

The next day we returned with a portable corral.  John loaded Dancer into the stock trailer, drove him 50 feet to our pasture next door, and released him.  Dancer took a few eager steps toward the girls that shared his brand but then stopped uncertainly.  It might have been my imagination, but as the heifers formed a group to survey the newcomer, they appeared vexed.  I think Dancer would be wise to proceed with caution. 

1 comment:

  1. Linda, I'm enjoying your writing. I check it almost daily.