Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wimpy, A Lot of Bull

Wimpy, the bull

A family friend, who is not prone to exaggeration,, told this story about an experience of his, back in a cold icy spell a few winters ago.
He lives in a small town but has a small herd of cattle a few miles out in the country. Cattle are notoriously hard on boundary fences, living by the old adage that the grass is greener on the other side, and thus frequently find themselves grazing on a neighboring pasture. Naturally, they don’t remain by the spot of entry. They wander. Sometimes miles. Sometimes even into another pasture or out into a road.
Farmers and rancher are a little possessive about their available grass, especially in times of drought, when grazing begins to get in short supply, and cattle wandering along a road is always frowned upon, so action is called for.
So this is life in the country. Fences get old. Fence posts rot and break off, or staples holding the barbed wire loosen, making an apparently sturdy barrier nothing more than a than an annoyance to a hungry cow reaching for that blade of green grass on the other side.
Fence building is time consuming and hard work, Farmers generally have too little of the first and too much of the second, so cattle often roam from their home pasture into that of a neighbor.
Country folks usually know their neighbors fairly well, but they are not quite as well acquainted with each herd member. After all, one white-faced Hereford, or Black Angus looks very much like another, so the owner is not always readily identified. When stray cattle are spotted and their owner not known, the sheriff’s department is generally notified.

The deputies, whose duty is to remove the roaming cattle and find the owner, often get well acquainted with these herd members. They often have a closer contact than they’d prefer, for that cow grazing so peacefully often develops an attitude when she’s being herded toward a strange trailer. If she happens to have a young calf by her side, well, to paraphrase another old saying ––Hell has no fury like a mama cow when a stranger approaches her baby.
Then there’s the self-appointed protector of his herd. If the bull happened to take advantage of the break in the fence, and has meandered along with other herd members, nobody wants to test his feelings toward the two-legged intruders into his otherwise pleasant day.

On this icy day, our friend got a phone call from a frantic deputy who had recognized the cattle but was not familiar with the herd’s guardian – a black angus bull not in the least interested in moving along toward the deputy’s trailer. Neither was the deputy interested in testing his powers of persuasion, so my friend, Matt, was called.
Of course, Matt didn’t want his cattle annoying his neighbor or wandering out on the road and causing an accident, and the deputy sounded especially perturbed,so he hurried the three or four miles out to the location the deputy had called from. Once there, it was easy to understand the deputy’s frantic call. He was sitting atop the cab of his pickup, shivering in the cold wind, and intently watching every move of the herd bull––a big fellow standing over five’ 8” at the shoulders, apparently very interested in the strange actions of the law officer.
Matt assured the deputy that he was in no danger from Wimpy, the bull, and could descend from his perch, but the officer thought differently, and remained where he hoped he’d be out of reach if the big fellow decided to meander over to get acquainted.
The small group of cattle had not wandered far from the break in the fence, so Matt walked over to Wimpy, gave him a pat on the head and turned toward the home pasture with the big fellow following docilely, the rest of the herd falling in behind.

A few days later, as the icy weather became worse, Matt went to the farm to put out hay. He slipped on the ice and fell. He twisted and turned, but could not get enough traction on the icy surface to  get to his feet. There was nothing within reach to be of help in pulling himself upright. He was beginning to wonder how he was going to get out of his predicament when Wimpy walked over, lowered his head to our helpless friend, who immediately took a firm grip and was raised upright.

Who would’ve thought such a thing could happen? Wimpy was truly a lot of bull, but this story isn’t.