"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Cattle Run



This morning the cows got out. There’s nothing like a herd of thousand-pound animals stampeding around the house to rouse you from your bed, heart pounding.

The electric fence is down, no doubt broken by deer. Just as they run blindly into cars, they run right through the electric fence. The young steers were separated from their mothers the night before by my brother and put in the barnyard to feed on silage, along with a cow that is in heat and it isn’t the right time for the bull to impregnate her. So the herd was already in a state of agitation—the bull trying to get at that cow and the mothers all bawling for their young—when one of them discovered the downed fence. And my brother’s off to Indiana for a farm appraisal. So guess who gets the call to help.

First, we dumped feed into the feed wagon in the middle of the field to entice them back into the pasture, and most of them are easily herded through the broken fence back where they belong. Except for the bull. He’s taken a hike down the lane and liking it just fine. My sister-in-law is the queen of the four-wheeler, but she says she’s not getting anywhere near that bull, with or without wheels. So off my husband goes on the four-wheeler to round him up, and there I am….left at the top of the drive to direct him back around the milkhouse and into the field. What? Are you crazy? I ask. Hubby assures me that this particular bull is a wimp, to just stand back and he should go right in. Sure. This bull is huge. He has a neck like the trunk of an oak tree, legs like steel pistons and hooves the size of a smithy’s anvil, and I could never understand why anyone would want to run with one of these. I grab a hoe in one hand and a shovel in the other, arms out like a scarecrow and guard my post.

You know where to hit a bull, don’t you? My dad says. In the nose. It’s their one sensitive spot.

In the nose? Who wants to get close enough to this muscled, testosterone-filled animal to hit him in the nose? I back up.

Here he comes on a trot around the barn, looking left and right. Husband, Dave, is right on his heels with the four-wheeler. I wave my hoe and my shovel. He heads straight for the gap in the fence, an obedient bull, nice bull, maybe sensing a full feed wagon ahead, maybe deciding he wants to join his cows after all.

So the fence is repaired and we have one more reason to anticipate the start of deer firearm season.

5 comments:

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

You got my adrenaline pumping. No way I'd be the scarecrow in front of the bull. You are brave in so many ways.Wonderfully written.

Andrea Cremer said...

Love this post! I worked on ranch from age 11 through college, brought back many good (and thrilling) memories!

Yvonne said...

Thanks, Tricia,but I don't think it was bravery. I think it was adrenaline!

Andrea, how cool. I didn't know you had a ranch hand background. What a great job that must have been. Thanks.

Laura said...

Ahhh... memories! ha! You know, that is how my brother met his now ex-wife. The cows were pigs, and there was no big scary bull, but she was alone, and we were the only neighbors she knew to call. I answered the phone and she asked for every member of my family, but they were all gone, so reluctantly she asked for my oldest brother, who was home. And, well, the rest is history. (This was a more romantic story when they were still married!)

Yvonne said...

Laura,
That is so funny....yes how romantic to meet someone whilst chasing pigs (or cows). I do know that baling hay with the neighborhood boys was a blast. I never could figure out why kids complain about baling hay. I mean my first crush...well, never mind!