The View from Mary's Farm for September 2007
January 1, 1970Raging Bull
One day late last fall, when I was out raking, a pickup with a noisy muffler rumbled past. In its wake, a big black beast went raging by, hooves flying, tail spinning. Head down, he rollicked into the field across the way. My dog, Mayday, barked furiously from behind the protection of the front door.
I was pretty sure whose animal this was. I stepped quickly to the phone and called the farmer down the road, who keeps cattle. “I think one of your bulls is in my field,” I said. My heart was pounding a bit, as I’m not brave around certain kinds of animals.
There was a pause. “Yup,” he said, finally, “that one’s been on the run for a couple of weeks.”
“Well, I’ve got him in my sights,” I reported cheerfully, expecting to hear him say he’d be right over to get him.
“Mmmm,” he said, laconically. “He’s awful hard to get, that one. We’ve tried but he’s slippery like a deer. It would take a posse to catch him.”
“But,” I said, not quite wanting to disclose that I was a bit fearful of having a bull on the loose around my front door. Or state the fact that it was hunting season.
“I’m not too worried,” he said. “He’ll probably come home through the same hole in the fence he went through to get out.”
Sounded like wishful thinking to me. I hung up and went to the window. Mr. Bull cut a fine profile out there, big and black and mighty, flipping his big rope tail as he tore at the late season grass. He fit the scene like a glove. But, when Mayday and I went out for walks, I would have to decide: did I want to wear red to protect myself from the hunters or not wear red to avoid being charged by a bull? One farm near here has a large sign on the fence that reads: “Don’t cross this field unless you can do it in 9.9 seconds. The bull can do it in 10.” No need for a stopwatch on that one. I’m not a fast runner.
A few days passed. I hadn’t seen him do any more stampeding. In fact, he was becoming rather endearing. Sometimes he’d turn his head and look toward the house, as if tempted to come over and make friends. At night, he’d cry and caterwaul and carry on sadly. Each morning, first thing, I’d look out to the field to find him. If he wasn’t there, I’d fret until I spotted him.
Weeks went by this way and the weather turned cold. Frost on the field. Bull still on the loose. Then days of not seeing him turned into weeks. I began to think that maybe the farmer had come to get him when I wasn’t home. Or, perish the thought, a hunter had taken him.
Finally, I called to inquire. “Oh, yes,” he said. “One day I was standing out in the barnyard talking to a friend and she came walking up the road, right up to us. We stepped aside and she went right into the barn.”
“She?” I said. “I thought it was a bull.”
“Nope. A cow, a young cow, full of beans.”
It's hard to tell when they are young like that, even harder when they are at a distance. I felt somewhat chagrined but, he or she, I was surprised how much I missed this contented presence who had raged in and settled down, munching on the last greens of a good year.