A Socratic Rancher 9-6-10 | TheFencePost.com

A Socratic Rancher 9-6-10

J.C. Mattingly
Moffat, Colo.

In a previous column, I related my one-time woes with a monogamous bull. An old-timer told me how to deal with this: Round up all the bulls in the pasture, including the deranged bull, move them all to another pasture for a few days, during which interval the bulls will have a great, grand bull fight. Return the bulls to the cows a few days after they quit fighting.

This actually worked. By the time the monogamous bull had spent a couple days fighting his fellow bulls, he was all business when returned to the cows.

Monogamy, however, isn’t the only problem I’ve come across in managing bulls. As confessed when I started the Socratic Rancher series after years of writing Life With Pickle, I am actually a farmer first, a rancher only by accident, or necessity, yet my wanderings into ranching have been action packed, as some of you good readers will recall when I started in with a “few” goat stories.

Back to bulls. There are many ways bulls can try one’s patience. One of my neighbors bought a group of bulls at the National Western. Beautiful bulls. Bulls who had been shampooed, groomed, and had the hair at the end of their tails made into puff balls. When turned out to pasture with cows, these bulls walked the fence, looking for a grain bucket.

More than once I had bulls damage their talleywhacker in various ways. One bull in this condition went to a mud hole for treatment, which, contrary to what I first thought, proved effective at reducing the swelling of his bruised ordinance.

Perhaps the most vexing problem I ever had with a bull was the time I bought a bull (admittedly at a bargain price) who, well … preferred bulls. We named him Liberace, which dissipated frustration with humor while doing nothing to address the dysfunctional dynamics of the herd’s breeding program. When the other bulls started to chin a cow, Liberace chinned the bull in action, which, as you can imagine, disturbed the active bulls’ concentration.

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I couldn’t sell Liberace to another rancher in good conscience, and dropping him off at the Sale Barn was hardly any better. The gentleman from whom I’d purchased the cross-threaded bull plead ignorance. The painfully obvious solution, which involved my .22 and a meat grinder, loomed ever likelier as Liberace’s disturbance within the herd mounted.

However, to slaughter Liberace meant: (a) giving up on a problem, which I hated to do; and (b) rather expensive hamburger at a time when our freezer was already full.

The old timer who’d helped me with the problem of a monogamous bull gave me a giant horse laugh as he said, “Somebody needs to eat that bull.”

Another bovine specialist suggested I contact Ringing Brothers. Or maybe it was Ripley.

Determined, I moved the bull into the corral and waited for a cow to cycle, then herded her in with him. My theory being that Liberace needed a little quality time with a cow to understand his special purpose. When the cow started to chin Liberace and he acted like it was all in a day’s play, I went, in disgust, for my .22, but when I returned, it was abundantly evident that Liberace’s polarity was back to normal.

The best explanation for this came in the form of a question from my son, “Was that a Freudian slip?”