Some things have changed since I last posted about my dad's misadventures with his bull. That bull was born on our family farm and has serviced cows on it for a number of years. The bull was rather docile in its early life except for periods of breeding excitability, only occasionally causing problems with busting through fences. Recently, however, the creature's rambunctiousness caused my dad to take more serious actions.
The bull exhibited more spiritedness than usual over the past breeding season. My dad's fences and his pens for capturing and loading cattle are not in as good repair as they used to be and they are certainly not designed to handle an huge animal that has started acting crazy at times.
It all started late last year when the bull kept getting into Reagan's adjacent property. Dad reduced his total farming acreage by two-thirds in recent years, selling most of his land to Reagan about four years ago. Reagan is one of the few "big time" cattle farmers left in the county. He owns hundreds of acres and leases hundreds more to keep is farming business thriving. But the bull kept roaming over into Reagan's land and humping Reagan's cows, getting into stomping fights with the other bulls who were just minding their own business (and taking care of the ladies) in that adjoining 60-acre section of pasture.
At first it was a mystery how the bull was escaping. Dad could not find a downed section of fence anywhere. Wherever the bull was getting out, he was also getting back in the same way, as cattle usually do when they wander outside the property. They might stray but they usually come back for the feed and salt blocks and water.
Finally, dad found a spot where two adjoining fence poles were bowed in a slight V-shape. The bull was sliding through there. He repaired the opening as best he could but the bull only found another way to get out. This time it was along the fence near the main road. You don't want your bull to be rambling in the midst of potential traffic. That is unsafe for the bull and whoever might hit him.
So when my dad got the bull back into his pasture he decided that matters had reached a point where it was more trouble than it was worth. He wanted to sell him. But his first attempt to catch the bull in the cattle pen resulted in the bull tearing down and leaping over the makeshift corral wall, knocking my dad on his back as it happened. Luckily he was unharmed but he became more committed than ever to getting rid of the stupid animal.
I repeatedly offered to help my dad but he had already spoken to Reagan who agreed to assist. After all, Reagan has several bulls of his own and he does not need someone else's bull breeding his cattle. At first Reagan brought his cattle trailer loaded with a couple of cows in heat, thinking the bull could be enticed into the trailer. The bull was definitely inspired but his crazed lust to mount the heifers faded when he realized the situation. The bull attempted to get at those two cows every way except by going through the trailer gate.
Time for Plan B (or maybe C in this case). Reagan brought over some sturdier panels to make the pen more resilient to a bull gone wild. It didn't matter. Working together, my dad and Reagan and one of Reagan's hands failed to get the bull into the makeshift corral. It smelled a trap and was now skittish, even less cooperative than usual. So the saga continued with the bull occasionally tearing through fences and generally aggravating my dad.
Then suddenly last week my dad happened upon a bright idea. The bull was familiar to dad approaching on his tractor or in his truck. The moment the bull figured out my dad was interested in him, he took off running down the fence line away from dad. Many years ago, when my daughter was old enough to handle it, dad bought her and her cousin a golf cart to ride around the farm, have fun, and learn a little bit about driving. Since then all the grandkids have used it but none recently since most of them have outgrown the thrill of that phase in their young lives.
Dad wondered whether the bull would react the same way if he rode over into the pasture on the golf cart instead of his usual means of transport. So he got the old cart out, did a little maintenance on it and proceeded to the back pasture. The golf cart is relatively silent, its bouncing around and electric propulsion were quiet compared with the truck or tractor. So the bull didn't really notice my dad's approach until he was practically upon the animal.
The bull snorted and bolted. He didn't like the golf cart one bit. My dad smiled.
Soon enough, dad discovered that he could use the suddenly menacing golf cart to drive the bull back toward the corral. The bull was so unexpectedly intimidated by the cart that dad actually had little difficulty getting it into the corral this time. With the reinforced panels brought over by Reagan and a couple of his hired hands, this time the bull was unable to escape his containment. As soon as he realized this all hell broke loose with the bull stomping and snorting and butting against the side of the pen. Everything held.
So dad called Reagan, who shortly appeared with his large gooseneck cattle trailer. This time they were able to drive the bull onto the trailer much to the consternation of the bull. The animal bellowed and stomped and shook the whole trailer side to side. Dad told me that it would have completely demolished his cattle trailer and he was glad Reagan had this larger, newer one.
Reagan hauled the monster off to a cattle sale about 30 miles away. And that was the last my dad ever saw of the bull he had successfully used relatively trouble-free for so many years. Beef still fetches a decent price at the market and my dad was glad to have a decent paycheck for something that had caused him so much worry of late. He probably split part of the proceeds with Reagan for his trouble.
For his part, Reagan, like the rest of us, was amazed that, after all this trouble, dad managed to intimidate his bull and guide it into the pen armed with nothing but a golf cart. Something about the otherwise benign contraption struck the bull as strange and even threatening. You never know what will induce a troublesome cow or bull into cooperating. At 81, my dad is still persistent and likes to think outside the box when all else fails. It paid off handsomely this time.
Next time dad wants to breed his cows, he'll have one of Reagan's bulls take care of business. Hopefully, that won't cause a new set of problems. But, for now, peace has been restored to the small family farm. Dad has had a couple of calves born recently - the last hopeful progeny of a bull that is now someone else's problem.
Nietzsche's Notebooks: Part Two
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