near-death experiences

Still more adventures in clueless farming

On Wednesday I completely lost it with my cattle, then was charged by the bull. And it rained.

My herd–seven cows, four yearlings, seven calves, and a borrowed bull–were grazing near a field leased to a neighbor. As is often the case when they’re next to something they like, in this case fifty acres of corn stubble, a couple of calves sneaked under the electric wire. The wire’s current, supplied by a solar fence charger, had been weakened by three consecutive gray days, so the mamas thought nothing of crashing through the wire after their calves. First one, then three, and then the whole herd was out.

Usually I can lure them back with some feed on the back of the truck and indeed most of them came across the wire, which I had dropped–but then one turned around and the rest followed.

My fuse was short to being with that day, and the high winds and pelting rain didn’t help, so I started running to cut them off and turn them around, all the while shouting like a lunatic. “You fucking stupid cows” in dozens of permutations.

Well. That only succeeded in getting them a little wild. When you can see the whites of their eyes, it’s time to go inside for coffee. Instead, I decided to set out on foot after the bull, who was wandering away from the herd with a couple of cows in tow. In the past, I’d been successful in getting around him and turning him, and he has never shown any hint of aggression, but the combination of howling winds and bellowing farmer brought out the bull in him, and he turned, bucked three or four times, then charged, about five steps’ worth, which still left him fifteen feet or so from me when he skidded to a stop, tearing up deep chunks of soil.

It was a display, and not an attack, but it got my heart pounding and my brain thinking two thoughts: 1. Damn, he can MOVE! and 2. How stupid! One-on-one with a bull in slippery corn stubble, without even a stick, a hundred yards to the nearest tree line. If he had attacked … well, I don’t want to go there.

Actually, make that two thoughts and a question: How long would it take the family to come out looking for me?

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