It was a beautiful summer day on the farm, a few weeks before school started. Lana’s parents had converted a small chicken coop into a dual-purpose shed. It served as a kid’s summertime playhouse. During the school year, the shed was hauled out to the end of the half-mile long driveway to provide shelter while waiting for the bus. Lana D and I were best friends. She would occasionally stay overnight at my house in town but had to sleep on the couch due to lack of space. Two bedrooms with adults and four kids…
Lana, her younger sister, Lisa, and I were playing “house” in the shed. I looked out the window when a black and white cow sauntered by. Odd. A thirteen hundred pound Holstein bovine munching on the grass. Mmm. Perhaps it was being used to mow the lawn. Perplexed, I asked, “Do you ever let the cows out to eat your lawn?” Lisa and Lana both laughingly replied, “No.” A curious cow poked its head in the window and mooed. Perfect timing.
It appeared that one cow either tripped or leaned against the wood fence and fell onto the lawn. The D’s had a big pasture but many of the bovines liked to graze near the house. It must have been one of the leader cows because once it broke free the entire herd decided to follow and eat the nice lawn on the other side. We temporarily closed the broken fence with a big stick. We began shooing the cattle into the pasture through a gate near the barn. Sixty head of cattle, no problem for three small girls. Holsteins aren’t very intelligent but are docile when relaxed.
All was going well until I heard an unpleasant sound. It was a low grunt. I looked over my shoulder to see the bull walking toward me. My great uncle had a stud farm and I learned at an early age not to mess with male cattle. They weigh about 2,500 pounds and will kill any perceived threat to their herd. Lana’s bull did not recognize me and began to advance. The bull blocked the path to the house. I walked away slowly and sought a place to hide. It began to trot so I started to run as fast as my short legs would go. No equipment was out to leap upon and I felt panic. The barn was closed up to the west, fence to the south, corncrib to the east, and bull to the north. No time to open a door and the fence by the barn was barbed wire and impossible to surmount. I was trapped and terrified.
My only option was the corncrib. The crib walls are built for ventilation and supported by wooden slats quarter of an inch thick with inch wide openings for air circulation. Not much to hold onto. It was nearly full and internally lined with chicken wire. I crawled up as high as I could upon the ten-foot crib. The tin roof was pitched with no handholds. The bull followed and put its front hooves on the crib and began hitting my feet with its head. The horns had been sheered off to stubs. Nothing to lose so I began to scream. I knew that if I fell I would be stomped upon and probably killed. Lana’s dad heard my cry from inside the barn. He came charging out, grabbed something from inside the barn, and began to whack the bull’s butt. The bull leaped down and let Mr. D lead it to a pen. He saved my life and risked his own. The bull could have easily attacked him or Lana and Lisa.
My fingers were bleeding and I was hyperventilating. I would not climb down until the bull was secured into a pen. My friends had been occupied with the female cows that they had not noticed my plight. I was shaking so badly that I could barely walk. I threw up on the lawn. Mr. D gently guided me to the house. Mrs. D called my parents and let them know what happened. I could have gone back to town. The phone was handed to me and I told my mom that I wanted to stay on the farm. Mrs. D took back the phone and chatted in low tones. She received permission from my folks to administer a shot of blackberry brandy, the country cure-all. I still shook so I received shots number two and three. After that I was buzzed and giddy. I no longer cared that I had dodged death, again.
Read the first parts of this remembrance posted January 26th, and January 30th. This posting is Dairy Farm Tails, Part III.
Don’t mess with bulls.
© 2012 Ima B. Musing