Thursday, July 12, 2007

A load of bull

The bull in a field near my house lives like a sultan, surrounded by his many wives and children. He is immense: his enormous, disproportionate neck dwarfs his not inconsiderable back end, where the business side of things dangles dangerously between his legs. He has a chestnut coat stippled with star-shaped dapples and nostrils pierced by a huge brass-coloured ring. Despite the trappings of his position, I believe he is a benevolent despot; the atmosphere in his kingdom is invariably relaxed.

Last year, some of the girls fed him handfuls of grass over the gate. Surrounded by curious calves, he took the offerings and chewed with a look of contemplation. Later, he chivvied his children along, curling his lip like a horse when they stopped to pee. I think he is probably a good and patient father.

In the winter, he lives in a big hemmel with another similar coloured bull. I see them from the road when the Grey Mare and I pass their farm. He and his companion chew contentedly, whiling away the hours like a couple of old blokes sitting on a park bench.

I think bulls, have on the whole, an undeserved reputation. But I can’t help feeling ever so slightly wary. My reaction is coloured by being chased by one when I was very small, and from a passage in my favourite pony book, Ruby Ferguson’s Rosettes for Jill. Our heroine and her pony Rapide find themselves in a field with an angry bull; the only way out is to jump a giant hedge. A bull, Jill informs her readers, may ignore someone on foot but will generally chase a horse. I have once ridden through a field containing a bull. He didn’t bat an eyelid.

The chestnut chap’s disposition is similar. When I climbed the gate to cut across his field the other night, his children scattered; slowly, he raised his huge head and observed the stranger in his midst, before returning to the more important task of grazing. Still, I remained close to the fence. Just in case.


21 comments:

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

It's never been the same for me since holidaying on a farm near Hexham when I was 11 years old, when the lovely farmer allowed us to 'help' get the cows down for milking (health and safety hadn't been invented in those days) and a rather large friesian lifted her tail and promptly defecated all down my front.

Arthur Clewley said...

There's a chap who keeps highland cattle in easby M&M, and the bull is the size of a buffalo. he's absolutely magnificant but seems generally very relaxed although I haven't been in the field with him. I've never been been bothered by a bull. I think you're right that (provided you give them a wide berth and don't bother them) they won't bother you if you walk through their field. My only bit of cattle related bother was when a friend and I, aged about 8, were chased by a herd of cows and if only the guiness book of records had recorded our leap over the fence I'm sure we would have been imortalised in world of high jumping back then.

Omega Mum said...

Cows and dogs is a lot more scary. The children tell me I'm cruel and mean when I urge them to push the dog away from them and run like hell in the opposite direction if chased, but experience has shown me to be right on this one.

Iota said...

Oh gosh, I remember it well, Jill and the jump-of-your-life that Rapide had to pull off over the 5' hedge. You knew it would be ok, since the book couldn't end with Rapide being put to sleep after breaking a leg, or Jill in hospital swearing she'd never ride again. But the tension of it was real, nevertheless. My cousin and I used to debate whether the horse's name was pronounced Rapeed (me), or Rapiddy (my cousin).

lady macleod said...

wonderful post! very colorful and descriptive. I loved it.

I too like cows and bulls, they seem very benign to me. That and the fact Scottish cows and I share the same hair color and sometimes the same stylist.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Whaddya mean "the business side of things"? That ain't business lady that's pleasure! Moooooooo! MOOOOOOOO! Snort! Snort! See ya later Daisy!

Mopsa said...

Gosh that brings back memories of riding through a herd of very frisky bullocks - I was terrified, but the hugely able rider with us thought it was hysterical and started to ride them off, cowboy style - and they loved it.More entertainment than they had seen for a while, they mock-charged time and again until the rest of us had slipped unnoticed through the gate. Our cowgirl then circled round them, at a gallop and with a whoop before joining us with stars in her eyes.

rilly super said...

oh M&M, that description just oozed masculine strength and sexuality,...It's made me come over all unnecessary...

rilly super said...

excuse me, I just need to go and open a window...

mountainear said...

The bulls in the fields round by us are mostly beef bulls - and seem good natured. Dairy bulls have a reputation for aggression. I'd be more wary of going through a field with cows and very young calves - especially if I had a dog with me. That maternal instinct comes with a kick.

rilly super said...

M&M, sorry, me again, have you read 'La Terre' by Emile Zola, no neither have I read most of it, it's bloody long and boring, but anyway the opening scene is a farmgirl taking her cow to be 'serviced' by a neighbouring farm's bull and then there's description of the girl helping the bull do the business because his cock is too big for him to manage by himself, not a problem most men I've known ever had it must be said. Zola wrote his books about 'the north' too, but it was you talking about the bull's cock that brought him to mind. I'm sure there must be a film with GĂ©rard Depardieu in it - must have a look in Blockbusters when I get back from holiday. But the point is that talking about Bulls' willys is not 'a load of bull' because you are in good company. Anyway, toootleloo and have a good weekend won't you

Poetess said...

Hi

I found your blog today. I have enjoyed our posts. I like the bit where you said your driving instructor said you drive like you live your life.

I think I permanently on the hard shoulder or going round in roundabouts.

Poetessxxxxxxxxxx

Gill said...

My friend's uncle was killed by a bull.

Lord Straf-Baghdad said...

Cows I know and have lain with. Bulls are another matter. Brave lady!

mutterings and meanderings said...

IMB, what a sh1t thing to happen!

AC, would love to have seen it!

OM, it's the young bullocks I don't like when they go cantering and bucking.

Iota, I'm with you on the name pronounication ...

Thankyou Lady M

YP, you're frightening me now ...

Mopsa, we sometime have to shoo bullocks away on a ride we do - the Grey Mare shakes her head at them.

Rilly, calm down now...

Mountainear, mothers are indeed protective ...

Rilly, you are naughty. You are going to get me into trouble! It was his balls to which I was referring. If it had been otherwise, I would've headlined the piece 'a cock and bull story' ...

Thankyou Poetess, please call again.

Gill, that's awful. I'm sorry.

Lord SB (or can I call you James?, would have be cows of the bovine or homo sapiens persuasion??

Omega Mum said...

Blimey - I'm going back to read your post all over again. I've never seen Rilly in such a state......and I want one, too.

dulwichmum said...

It sounds like a great life for a bull indeed. I must admit I think males in general get the better deal.

@themill said...

Golly M&M - we must hope that if Rilly ever ventures this far North she doesn't get near any of the magnificent Limousin chaps that live here.

DJ Kirkby said...

They really are huge arent they, I was surprised to read that they live contentedly together in the winter. Another great post.

Gill said...

Beware- she who lies with a bull gives birth to a minotuar!

Karen said...

My mum and I were once chased by a rumigore (an angry ruminant) in a field behind our caravan near Malvern. Apparently you are meant to sing at them and they go away.

My nextdoor neighbour and I were once chased by a whole herd of Fresians. We had been playing frisbee in the same field as them but they were miles away. They slowly got closer and closer, so we started walking away, agreeing that running was not a good idea. My friend started running so I asked him if he had forgotten about what we said. He said that he was only running because the cows were!