Life Is Simple
About a month before I turned out my bulls with the cows this past spring, one of the older ones came up lame. When I ran him through the chute to check on his problem, I realized his lameness was irreversible and proceeded to take him to the nearest livestock auction. This put me in a bind, being one bull short just a mere two weeks before turn-out time. Most of the better bulls of breeding age were gone by this time so I made some calls.
The first call was to a long-time friend whom I’ve bought most all my bulls from over the past 15 years. All he had left were short yearlings, too young for the job. “Call Bill,” my friend instructed. “I think he’s got a couple of good ones left.”
Bill is also a good friend. Our children used to show cattle together back in the old days, and I had purchased a few bulls from him over the years as well and gotten along fine with them. I phoned Bill that same evening and he, indeed, had two bulls left. I went up and selected the one I thought was the best, but I noticed the bull was a little nervous in the corral before loading. Bill assured me that he was a “well-mannered” young calf that just missed his buddy. I wrote my friend a check and we loaded the young male.
Dutifully, the young bull stayed committed to his job for the next three weeks, even working nights, weekends and holidays with the aggressiveness that one likes to see in any new employee. But, after the fourth week, I thought I was beginning to detect a little boredom setting in as the new bull began to incessantly walk the fence, eyeing my neighbors 25 heifers in an adjoining field. The next morning, my bull was gone and, as I suspected, he was with the 25 young ladies next door.
Nowhere could I find where he had gotten through the fence, so I spent the next three hours chasing him on my ATV until I finally wore him down enough to get him in the neighbor’s corral: he could outrun my little vehicle, but he couldn’t outlast it. I loaded him up and took him home. He lasted two days in my pasture until he was back with the heifers. The same procedure ensued, but this time it took only two hours of running. I vowed to give him one more chance.
Two days later the young bull was AWOL again, but this time he was not to be found with my neighbor’s heifers, but had gone west to another neighbor’s place. The field to which he had escaped had several more cows, but also a large, mature bull that didn’t take kindly to the competition. As I entered that field on a steamy, hot afternoon, the young bull took off as soon as he heard my ATV. I ran him back and forth between small ponds and brushy areas for two hours, hoping that he wouldn’t die from heat exhaustion, until he finally wised up and headed to the middle of a small lake where he parked himself in the very center and out of range from my rock-throwing arm. Frustrated, I phoned my wife and told her to bring the shotgun and what few shells I had left.
Dang it! There were only seven shells left. I used three of them to get him out of the pond and three more getting him out of the thicket to which he had escaped. We were now racing to an open gate and the large lake. I used my last shell to try to turn him but he just blinked at the birdshot and kept on going. The next day I went to town after more ammo and finally got him back home and eventually to another farm with fewer distractions.
I ran into Bill at the fair last week and his first question was, “How’s that new bull working out?”
As I went through the whole, detailed story, I could sense the wheels turning in Bill’s head, for he has always been known amongst our peers as a great marketer of livestock. “Jerry, I’m truly sorry that you had all that trouble with this bull, but if you’ll buy another one from me this winter, I’ll throw in two boxes of shotgun shells at no charge.”
Jerry Crownover is a farmer and former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University. He is a native of Baxter County, Arkansas, and an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry about his books, or to arrange speaking engagements, you may contact him by calling 1-866-532-1960 or visiting ozarksfn.com and clicking on ‘Contact Us.’