Uncle Joe was makin’ his rounds this spring checking the horses and cows to make sure everything had water. When he got to the bull lot, one of his prize young Charolais bulls had managed to crawl through one of the round bale feeders and was lying down happily chewing his cud.
Uncle thought over how to extricate his bull, then went for the tractor. He’d put the round bale in fresh that morning and had not yet cut the twine. It made it easy to lift the bale out of the feeder and set it out of the way. Next, with the lance he tipped the feeder up to let the bull find his way out, BUT … the bull panicked!
In his effort to escape, the bull stuck his head through one of the slots and took off wearing the feeder around his neck! Joe watched the crazed critter stampede through the other young bulls in the lot, who, in turn, went berserk, scattering back and forth as if the iron monster was attacking them!
The saddle horses in the next pen caught the fever and added to the chaos by running around, tails in the air, rollers in their nostrils and fear in their eyes all frightening the bulls who were already scared poopless!
Every now and then, the feeder would dig into the mud so the back would tip up along with the butt end of the bull, whose tail was waving in the air like a loose air pressure hose! Each flip and flop jiggered the gathering crowd. In one final assault, surrounded by 11 testosterone-powered, adrenaline-fueled, thick-headed white bulls, he lead the charge through the metal gate out into the farmyard and right into the machine shed!
In a matter of seconds, all the livestock cleared the area leaving just the barking dogs, Uncle Joe on his tractor and the still struggling, captive bull. Joe called the dogs off and gave the bull five minutes to wiggle during which time he, the bull, managed to back out of the feeder and stumble back into the yard.
After an hour of pushing, sliding, dislocating, cursing, twisting and a couple of "back up and take a run at it" maneuvers, Uncle Joe returned with his welding trailer and removed the stuck-tight round bale feeder … in three pieces.
Men and machinery in a bull ballet … it never ends.
Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and website, www.baxterblack.com.