Julie Paton: Bullish misbehaviour

By Julie Paton

Bulls are unpredictable, one minute looking amiable, the next upset and roaring after farmers, dogs or other intruders. Photo / Paton file
Bulls are unpredictable, one minute looking amiable, the next upset and roaring after farmers, dogs or other intruders. Photo / Paton file

Ah, the summer holidays are here. While it's lovely to ditch the daily grind of lunchboxes and bus runs, I'm sure I'm not the only parent to occasionally find offspring constantly underfoot irritating.

The 14-year-old in particular needs to be kept busy, or else I'm likely to find him kicking a soccer ball around the house.

The other day he was doing this and the ball banged into my ankles one too many times so, in exasperation, I picked it up and ran out of the house and drop kicked it (fairly well, I must say) over the fence and down into the paddock.

Unfortunately, I'd forgotten a couple of bulls having a break from servicing cows were grazing in this paddock.

The bulls lay together, relaxing in the sun, and stared in alarm at the alien sphere rolling towards them. "What the heck?!" you could almost hear them think as they scrambled to their feet to investigate, sticking close together in defensive formation.

They stretched their necks to sniff at it and simultaneously leapt back, pausing to stare and roll their eyes at the interloper.

The 14-year-old, worried what they might do to his ball, edged cautiously down the slope while I screeched at him, worried that in their nervous state they might turn on him and smear him into the dirt.

Both parties retreated to a safe distance, and with the bulls eventually choosing to resume their sunbathing in the furthest corner of the paddock away from the ball, it was safely retrieved.

Milo, our chubby chocolate lab, must have crossed swords with a bull at some point. We saw him try to take a short cut through the paddock and then realise bulls were present.

He sat and eyed them cautiously, pondering his next move - then shambled back up the hill and down the race, giving the entire paddock and its contents a wide berth.

Bruce has had his share of bullish encounters lately. Bulls can be so unpredictable, one minute looking amiable and almost cuddly, the next roaring like thunder and trying to mash each other to a pulp.

A couple of weeks ago Bruce was on the quad, dawdling along behind a couple of bulls to shut them away in a paddock.

The bulls ambled along contentedly, until one bull apparently took offence to a side-eye from the other one, and the fight was on.

Bruce backed off to give them plenty of room, but had to intervene when the larger bull flipped the smaller animal right off the race and over the wall onto the silage stack.

A bull trampling all over carefully wrapped silage and making hoof holes is not ideal.

Once the little bull had been heaved out of sight, the big bull lost interest and plodded peacefully off to the paddock again.

Bulls are sensitive souls, and seem to have a lower pain threshold than cows (just like humans!).

They're also less accustomed to being handled than cows, which makes treatment challenging.

We had a grumpy bull with a sore foot making him even more crotchety than usual, so he was put in a paddock by himself.

Even trying to get him out of a paddock was a trial, because he would rather charge at the puny human or dog trying to encourage him to leave than walk out the open gate.

Bruce was bringing a couple of younger bulls up to the shed and hit on a cunning plan to get the lame bull out of the paddock without a showdown.

He would follow the young bulls along the race on the quad bike and open the gate on the way past - the ill-humoured bull was bound to simply follow them along.

The first part of the plan worked well and Bruce hummed happily to himself as he trundled along.

A fearsome bellow by his ear halted his happy hum, and he turned to find a pair of glaring red eyeballs staring into his own as the enraged bull snorted hot air into his face.

The young bulls in front scuttled off in terror and sprinted all the way up the race, with Bruce in hot pursuit.

Luckily his sore foot slowed the bull down and they all escaped safely.

I can't say anyone was sorry to see the bulls leave the farm - except maybe a few of the cows.

- The Country

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