Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bulls will be bulls

It's been a crazy day, and it's only noon. We started out with sheep shearing, and before that was done, we heard honking at the front gate. I went out there to find a neighbor telling me that our bull was flirting with his cows about a mile away. Mike and Katherine took a pan of alfalfa cubes and a lead rope, assuming they could just lead him home the way we did last summer when he got out.

Things didn't exactly go as planned. About twenty minutes later Mike called to say that Jaxon had sort of lost his mind, and they needed help. The sheep shearer had just finished, so I told Margaret and Jonathan to head over. I paid the shearer and decided to head out and see if they needed my help also. When I turned down the road I saw our truck slowly creeping towards me with a bull tied to a cattle chute that the truck was pulling.

According to Mike, this is what happened -- They walked right up to Jaxon when they arrived, and Jaxon started munching on the alfalfa cubes. Katherine snapped the lead rope onto his collar, and Mike started leading him down the road. When Jaxon realized that the goal was to take him away from the sexy cows, he got a little upset and took off. You don't have to have any experience with cattle to know that a man cannot stop a bull from running off if he really wants to run. That's when Mike called for reinforcements. They trapped Jaxon in a corner next to the chute, and Mike tied the end of the lead rope to the chute, then asked the neighbor if he could return it after bringing Jaxon home. He didn't want to risk trying to lead Jaxon to the pick-up and tying him to the bumper because they were thinking that Jaxon would just take off again.

When we got Jaxon home, I was taking pictures of him, saying that we needed to sell him. But then the obvious question arose -- where are we going to keep him so that he can't go visiting the neighbor's cows again? We had no idea. Obviously none of our fences are good enough. Our barn was originally built for racehorses, so that should hold him. But I am not feeding him hay and mucking out stalls forever. The option of turning him into beef was discussed, but we decided to just put him in the barn for now. I had the brilliant idea of putting a second lead rope on him so that two people could lead him into the barn. Do you think that worked?

Of course not. Obviously a bull is stronger than two men, and Jaxon knew it. I was really glad we have our entire property fenced, and as we watched him running around our front yard, we again started talking about butchering him. About twenty minutes passed as we tried to move him back to the barn, and then I told Mike to go inside and call the locker to find out how soon we could bring him in.  Shortly after he went inside, Jaxon got close to the fence that separates the front and backyard, and our herding dog Porter started to run along the other side of the fence. That pushed Jaxon to start running in the direction of the barn. And he kept running. After all of the drama of the past hour, could this really end so easily?

Yes! Well, almost. Jaxon ran into the barn, and we closed the door behind him. He ran all the way to the other end, and we opened the door of a stall. Jonathan picked up the lead rope, and I suppose since Jaxon realized he didn't have anywhere to run, he walked back towards the front of the barn. When he saw the open stall door, he went inside, and Jonathan slammed the stall door behind him.

As the four of us came walking out of the barn, Mike came out of the house and yelled across the yard, asking us where Jaxon was. We were all incredibly happy that the bull was finally locked up. And Jaxon has an appointment with destiny for Monday morning.

There is a part of me that feels guilty for butchering him, as if we've failed. But he is a meat animal, and it simply is not practical for him to stay here. There is a lot of liability involved in having a bull, especially if he escaped and ran into the road, causing an accident. And it probably isn't even practical to have him with only two cows, although we've been sharing him with someone else who has two cows. He is a nice bull, as far as bulls go, but they have a lot of testosterone running through their bodies, and that makes them a challenge to handle and to house.

I've been planning a blog post on testosterone and rams, which I hope to get posted in the next few days!


Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

A full day, indeed.
Not easy decisions to make... sorry about that.

Tombstone Livestock said...

I gave up years ago of keeping a bull, raised one from a bottle baby, never had him get out off property, just out in the yard. When he got to 1700 pounds I decided it was easier to borrow a bull or take cows to someone else's bull. Too much liability keeping one to make it worthwhile.

Cassandra R. Cooper said...

Hopefully there will be no next time,but..if so we have found that a blindfold works wonders! Of course all bet's are off if there are available "girlfriends" in the neighborhood ! PS the blindfold is for the bull - not the humans!

Velva said...

What is interesting about these days is that different from most people's lives- which makes bringing the bull home totally cool.


SkippyMom said...

He sure is a pretty boy and just from your description and the pics you can tell he has a great disposition.

As sorry as I am that you have to butcher [because you like him, not that he is going to be meat/be eaten]I like your pros and cons "list" on this. Well thought out and rational [I know, when aren't you! :)]. The best decision for everyone has been made.

Good luck this week. Take care.

Stevie said...

Quick thinking. Won't it be a good story to tell while enjoying a nice beef brisket from you-know-who???


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