From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Bull Stories

Breechy bovine


Sarpy Sam (Thoughts from the Middle of Nowhere) has posted a great story about a bull that got its head stuck in a hay feeder. The tale is amusing and it's a good example of the real-life, everyday adventures of the cattle rancher. I think you'll enjoy it, even if you're not experienced with farm animals.

Bulls are always a trial and tribulation in the rancher's life. They make a lot of noise and dig holes and they can be belligerant. Naturally enough, they want to be with any nearby cows that are in heat, and some bulls will even go through a fence to get there.

In fact, the only time I ever heard my father use the word "bastard" was in connection with a bull that went through a fence.

It was a hot, still day in the middle of summer and we were in the hayfield. Something on the self-propelled windrower had broken. My dad was trying to repair it but wasn't having much success. He had been lying under the windrower for quite a while, down by the swamp where the air was especially steamy. Occasionally he emerged, covered with grease and hay chaff, to mop the sweat from his eyes.

Suddenly, my brother zoomed up in one of the pickup trucks. He jumped out and reported to my dad that one of the bulls had gone through the fence and was in with the neighbor's cattle.

Overcome with heat and frustration, my father spoke grimly. "That breechy bastard," he said, with deadly emphasis. (The word "breechy" to a rancher means "eager to go through any breech", that is, always looking for a weak place in the fence.)

Coming from my father, those were strong words indeed, because he didn't talk like that. I had never heard him say such a word. It was almost frightening to see my dad brought to this extreme.

Let me explain. Your bull in the neighbor's pasture can cause trouble between you and the neighbor. My dad was honor-bound to get that bull away from the neighbor's cows immediately, even if it meant that no more hay was made that day. In addition, my dad was afraid that this expensive bull might have been cut badly, when he went through the barbed wire fence. Also, it might be fighting with the neighbor's bulls, and it could have injured itself or another bull. All of this on that hot afternoon brought my dad to the point of using strong language.

My dad kept good fences, but when a large, strong, testosterone-charged animal makes an assault, it stretches every wire, strains every staple, and tests every repair.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.