Saturday Morning Bull
(The following is a guest post from Jamie Tanner, self-described "wife, mother, daughter, retired Army nurse, theologian, and founder/president of Simple Sparrow Care Farm. You can read more of her heartwarming tales at blog.jamiejenelle.com)
Saturday morning the dogs started barking. Really barking.
They patrol the front acre of the farm, keeping raccoons, possums, skunks, and coyotes out of the chicken barn and other critters out of the garden. They are great dogs and I knew from their bark, they were sounding an alarm.
Occasionally, a coyote will linger in the early morning along our fence line, eyeing birds and goats, but between our llama and dogs, the farm stays virtually predator free.
As the dog barking intensified, I was forced out of a comfy position in bed to investigate.
No coyote. Just a huge angus bull standing right outside our front gate.
Our farm, Simple Sparrow, is on the inside of a “T” intersection. A quarter mile south is a highway and a quarter mile west is a toll road with 80 MPH speed limit. I feared this bull would bolt and make his way into traffic, risking numerous lives including his own.
We have neighbors who raise angus cattle and as a small farming community I could narrow down possible owners of this bull. It either belonged to Mr. Marvin who lives next door (and by next door I mean ½ mile to his front door) or to Mr. Daryl, who lives more or less across the road.
All these deductions came to me as I rushed to get a bra on under my pj shirt...no time to change...out the front door fully supported girls, in pjs and sport sandals...I anticipated this would require some running around, I just didn’t know how much.
I got a hold of Mr. Marvin who said, “Ain’t mine...I don’t have a bull.” He hung up and I watched him drive around in his pick up, proceeding to close all the gates around his pasture and property. I understood he didn’t want this bull getting in with his cows...and he didn’t offer to help so I took that as a sign I was on my own.
I didn’t have Mr. Daryl’s number. He’s a bit of a recluse and doesn’t live at his ranch full time. He has multiple properties where he keeps his herds and one is hours away...what if he was there? I called a neighbor who had his contact and asked her to get a hold of him.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bull and I are checking each other out. You never know what kind of temperament a bull will have with you. Even if they seem docile, they could turn on you in an instant. But I was more concerned about this big guy running onto a busy road and killing a family in their car than trampling me to death at my gate.
Next I called my Uncle Greg, rancher for life...and really he should have a doctorate in bulls...or at least bullsh*t…
"Uncle Greg! There’s an escaped bull on my road, what do I do?!”
“Open your gate and coax him in...that’ll keep him safe until you find the owner.” Uncle Greg really does have good sense.
When I have a loose goat or pony, shaking a bucket of oats always brings them back to me. So I figured the bull may appreciate an oat breakfast too.
Ran down to the barn and back to the road with a bucket of oats, convinced this ringing of the dinner bell would bring him in.
He ran farther away from me, my gate, and closer to the toll.
Mr. Marvin was still closing gates and now he wouldn't even pick up his cell as I desperately called for help and advice. I thought Mr. Marvin could maybe bring his cows to the pasture by my house so at least the bull would be enticed by the cow ladies to get into my gate. But that wasn’t going to happen.
I had been out of bed for maybe 10 minutes by this time. Still no coffee btw.
And this damn bull was running STRAIGHT for the toll road. What else could I do?
I called the sheriff.
“Hello, sheriff, sorry...this isn’t an emergency, but it could be...there’s a bull running for the toll road off 107...I think it’s Mr. Daryls but I don’t have his number and I’ve tried to get this bull into my gate for safety but EEKKK! He’s on the toll! The bull is on the toll!!!!”
I was running now...on phone with dispatch, trying to keep a visual on that bull, bucket of oats rattling in my fist. I was giving dispatch all the details and apologizing for breathing so heavy in her ear. Mr. Daryl then drove up behind me.
“Mr. Daryl! The bull is on the toll….*pant*sucking air*puff*...He’s not Mr. Marvin’s…”
With full and steady breath, Mr. Daryl replied, “Well, I had 3 bulls yesterday and now I only have 2...so I reckon he’s mine.”
Mr. Daryl drove through the ditch to get onto the toll. Meanwhile, 3 sheriff vehicles drove by and a few others blocked lanes from the other direction.
I was still on foot.
Now slogging through muddy pastures in my pjs and sport sandals, still gripping the handle to my bucket of oats. It had rained the previous night, a huge thunderstorm...that’s probably what spooked the bull and he jumped the fence. Every step through the fields made me taller as the traction on my sandals caused the mud to cling and cake. I was carrying a couple pounds of pasture on the bottom of my shoes by the time I caught up to the sheriffs, Mr. Daryl, and Ferdinand (what I decided to name the bull in my heart as I tromped over a mile in muddy pastures).
Mr. Daryl had cut Ferdinand off the toll road and back in the ditch. Herd animals will move along when “pressure” is applied. If the animal doesn’t know you, applying too much pressure (that is getting too close too soon) can cause them stress. They can charge, kick, or run away. If you have multiple people (say, a handful of sheriffs, a rancher, and a women glumping through wet pastures in her pjs with an oat bucket), you might could maybe just apply the right amount of pressure to coax a bull into a gate a half mile down a road.
We strange crew of Ferdinand rescuers carefully applied pressure and walked him down the toll road ditch. All lanes of traffic were now blocked and vehicles stopped as we moved along...everyone watching. One sheriff vehicle even drove backwards on the northbound side because 107 was to the south.
Slow and steady...no sudden movements.
Due to closed gates and barbed wire fences on Mr. Marvin’s property, I had to go around and through pastures, open/close gates as I went, all the while keeping an eye on Ferdinand and doing my part to apply pressure on my side of the bull.
When we got close to 107, Ferdinand took off running again, but this time towards the pasture I was in. It was only me on that side and I had to *run as fast as* I could to cut him off and prevent him from juking back onto the toll road.
*(It's important that I interject my "run as fast as" is a classic mom-run style. Four kids does a lot of anatomical reworking on the body...so does eating tacos, but I prefer to blame the kids...and I know the term "juking" not because I have ever actually juked necessarily, but because my sons all play football and I hear the athletic words while I sit on the bleachers and eat my tacos...so back to the juking bull and the running mom...)*
What happened next, you can put on the headstone at the burial of my pride and dignity: “Woman mom-running with bucket of oats, rattling and jostling about in soggy cow pasture, while in pjs and muddy sport sandals, wipes out. Praise Jesus, she was at least wearing a bra.”
It was glorious. I lost all control of body but my brain still thought it had control. The bucket went flying. I think my feet went in all directions at some point. My hands flailed, groping for some invisible thing in the air to catch me. The landing was soft. Soft and wet. And slippery.
And I had an audience...typical of pride and dignity deaths. A sizable audience of sheriffs and drivers observing the whole undignified event from the dry and not muddy setting of their vehicles.
And Ferdinand. Who was still on the move.
So I got up, gathered my oatless bucket and continued the pursuit! Class act.
Once back onto 107, I applied pressure to Ferdinand to coax him along the fence line. Daryl's wife drove up to block the road in the other direction. Together, we got Ferdinand safely into my gate!
SCORE: 1,000,000 pts.
Ferdinand was clearly stressed. We needed him to calm down before trying to load him in a trailer back to his pasture. As I walked around the outside of my house, giving Ferdinand space, I heard a knock from a window above my head. It was my husband, Eric. He was smiling and waving. He’s an electrical engineer and he bought me our farm because I am the farmer. He, no doubt, enjoyed the whole show from inside the house.
Loading Ferdinand went off without any issue. Mr. Daryl, his wife, and I built a cattle chute with cattle panels out my front gate. I put a halter on our mini horse, Kacy, and lead her around by Ferdinand. She is a very calm and gentle animal and her presence had a fantastic calming effect on him (if you’ve ever watched the movie “Ferdinand” you may recall the emotional support goat...well Kacy played that part well...). Ferdinand followed right behind her and I lead them both into the cattle chute pen. Imagine, a MINIHORSE (who comes up to my hip), leading a full grown angus bull (who is TALLER THAN MY FENCE). Both were treated to oats before Ferdinand was loaded to go home.
As I recounted the discovery of Ferdinand to Mr. Daryl, I mentioned how Mr. Marvin said it wasn’t his bull and proceeded to close all his gates and left me to adventure solo.
“Well, that bull coulda been Marvin’s,” replied Mr. Daryl, “but he’s too cheap...I outbid him at auction this week…”
Suddenly, I realized why Mr. Marvin hadn’t helped: his pride and dignity had died too.
I also realized the value of wearing a bra...