Tuesday, July 30, 2013

No bull

The Farmer called me yesterday afternoon just as I got home from work.

“Put on your old shoes and meet me at the south end of the barn,” he said. “Bring a pitchfork.” Click.

I love you too, honey.

I changed shoes, walked out to the barn, grabbed the pitchfork leaning by the north door, climbed over the fence and threaded my way through the steer yard to the south side.

The farmer was standing on one side of a very battered collection of gates, looking annoyed.

Our black Angus bull was standing on the other side of the gates, looking annoyed.

The gates looked beaten to hell. They were wired across the opening in a haphazard mishmash of bent steel.

“Stand here and keep him from coming through the gates while I get the trailer. He’s already tried to come through twice,” the Farmer said. “I’m out of gates to hold him.”

He indicated I should use the pitchfork to whack the gates as a deterrent. I was only to whack the bull as a last resort. Personally, I thought if it came to that, I was going to be using the pitchfork to pole vault onto the top of the nearby feed shed. I've never felt a career calling to become a matador.

The bull was in such a bad mood because his ladies were gone. The Farmer sold the cows earlier this week. The bull did not approve but no one had asked him. He indicated his displeasure by refusing to stay in the pasture. There are a limited number of times you can re-capture an AWOL bull before it becomes tiresome.

The Farmer put him in the barn. He did not want to stay in the barn either. Banging on the gate had proven marginally effective at getting out. Putting his head and neck under the gate and tearing it loose had proven substantially more effective. The Farmer wired on another gate. Lather, rinse, repeat.

By the time I appeared on the scene, the bull had been using his 2,000 pound stature to renovate the inside of the barn as well as the gates. The Farmer decided to put him on the stock trailer in sort of an agrarian time out. At least once he was in the trailer he couldn’t tear anything up.

But the Farmer couldn’t leave him unsupervised long enough to get the trailer backed up to the north end of the barn. That’s where I came in.

I lifted the pitchfork in what I hoped was an authoritative pose. The Farmer took off at a run for the pickup. The bull eyed me with contempt.

This was going no where good.

The bull snorted. I narrowed my eyes and hoisted the pitchfork. Seriously, how threatening did I look - a scrawny (by comparison) human, wearing muck boots and brandishing a stick.

The bull sized up the gates. He lowered his head and snorted again.

Where the hell was the Farmer? The machine shed isn’t that far from the barn. Didn’t he know his lovely bride’s agenda for the evening did not include playing chicken with an ill-tempered animal big enough to have his own zip code?

The Farmer opened the north barn door and backed up the trailer. The bull didn’t notice. He was contemplating his escape route. I was standing in it.

He began a very business-like approach toward what was left of the gates. I brought the pitchfork down on the top bar with enough force you could have heard it in Conroy. Then I whacked it a couple of more times, just for good measure and shouted at the top of my lungs. I’m sure what actually came out of my mouth was more of a strangled chirp but it sounded like a very professional cattle wrangling “Haaaaaaaa!” to me. 

The bull stopped, clearly taken aback. The gates had never resisted before. He sized them up again and angled in for a second approach.

By now I’d gotten the hang of this. I am woman. Hear me roar.

The bull backed off and retreated to the far end of the barn, where the Farmer persuaded him onto the trailer.

Trailer door slammed and latched. Pitchfork at parade rest. Breathing resumed. Heart rate dropping to something my cardiologist would approve of. It’s all good.

You can’t scare me. I live with a malinois.


  1. I will be scared for you after I quit giggling.

    Oh maybe you should not have done such a good job handling the bull, now the farmer will recruite you each time!

  2. Maybe the farmer should had let the bull keep one cow. Maybe it would have been cheaper the fixing the barns and gates. Great advice huh? ( I know nothing about bulls, cows or farms. Nor do I know anything about how much those things cost) sounds like I should be giving advice huh?

  3. Hahaha! Whoever said life in Iowa was boring has never met you!

  4. One of so many reasons I do not work with cattle.

  5. "You can't scare me. I live with a Malinois." LOVED that line, as I live with one, too. Everything else is easy after that.