I grew up in the Dairy State. Holsteins are the milk cow of choice for that area. They are big boned, meaty bovines, that produce massive amounts of milk. Years of breeding has brought up the butterfat, making them even more valuable. The black and white cow is part of the Wisconsin culture.
Loving farming and working with livestock, I worked at different dairies over the years. I appreciated that most farmers treated their animals well.
The downside, in those days, was the hazard of handling bulls, but as the years passed more and more farmers switched to artificial insemination. A few farmers still ran their own bulls, but they were few and far between. Every family in the area had a story where a bull killed someone they knew, or knew of.
The female of the bovine species is usually gentle. Many come home to be milked when you call them. Buckets of grain are reward enough to bring them in for milking time; unless they are out on new pasture. Then, you have to go get them.
This was one of those times. The day before we had run a single, electric wire, on step-in fence posts, around a new field. The “girls” were oblivious to my calls, so the dog and I headed out to bring them home for the evening milking.
The bull and I noticed each other about the same time.
This farmer had a bull, but he seldom let him run with the cows, unless he noticed one was in heat. Protocol was: he’d tell me if the bull was out and I would use the old, blue tractor to get the cows.
This was the day it had slipped his mind.
That bull and I looked at each other for a long minute. When he started to trot towards me, I lit out. That electric wire wouldn’t even slow him down. The five-strand, barb-wire, line fence might … slow him down.
Now let me tell you, I come from a long line of fine fence builders. You haven’t seen anal until you’ve seen a Wisconsin farmer building a line fence. They are straight and tight; so tight that farmers brag about bulls bouncing off of them.
This was not one of those line fences, but I was hoping the old boy might get tangled up in the barb-wire, cut a tendon or something, anything to get his mind off of me.
I doubted I’d make it to the line fence, but y’know, in a pinch you gotta do what you gotta do. I’m not fast and that line fence was pretty far away. I gave it all I had, expecting to feel the earth shake as that two-ton devil closed in on me. His breath on my heels lit a fire under my feet.
Time ceased to exist. What seemed like an eternity later, I found myself standing on the other side of that poor excuse for a line fence, no idea how I got there. I whipped around to see where the bull was.
My knees were like water. I bent over, putting my hands on them to steady them, trying to catch my breath. If that fence didn’t hold him or turn him, I was toast.
The field was empty. My heart hammered in my chest. What the hell?
Where was that bull? I looked near, first, then expanded my horizons; saw the cows. Looking past them, I saw the bull disappearing into the woods, chasing the dog. (God, I love dogs.)
I melted against an old, wobbly post with relief. I had never run so fast in my life. After a long while, I recovered. I looked around to see if anyone had seen me fleeing my own imagination.
With a huge sigh of relief, I walked up to get the old, blue tractor.
P.S. Don’t worry, the dog was home in time for supper.