Without a doubt in my mind, there is one creature here on God’s green earth that is the single most destructive critter alive. That critter is the herd bull on the ranch. When you purchase that fancy new bovine Romeo with the intent of him producing powerful new and exciting progeny within your herd, you usually forget the hidden costs of owning this 1,800-pound hunk of love. I’m not talking about the cost of feed, vaccine, pour on and all the other costs necessary to care for Fabio, I’m talking about the cost of the fence he tore down because he thought the neighbors replacement heifers needed male companionship, or the dent in the side of the pickup where he scratched an itch on his head while you were putting out salt.
Bulls are very much needed for 45-65 days out of the year depending on your operation, but the remainder of the year they seem to only have destruction on their mind. It’s funny to me how they can be the very best of friends for months on end, but the minute you need to move them a quarter mile to a different pasture, it becomes a pay per view fight worthy of the MGM Grand in Vegas. For three days they will fight, dig new holes for you to find with the four wheeler or pick-up all over the pasture, and talk smack that should be the envy of professional athletes. Taking bulls to cows at the start of the breeding season is likely the easiest task in ranching, they know where they are going and have no problem making their way to the cows in a hurry. When you pull those same bulls in the fall, you better have a big horse, couple of ropes, a half rabid dog, life insurance and a crazed old man that drives his pick-up like a demolition derby car.
Through all this hassle, I believe that I have come up with the perfect solution for breeding cows without all the other hassle. Bulls should be inflatable. Testing them for breeding season would be as easy and pulling them down from their storage spot in the tack room in the barn, hosing the dust off, hook up the air compressor, and check for leaks. Checking them in the summer would simply require the use of a tire pressure gauge and a portable air compressor. If one decided it would be okay to visit the neighbor’s cows, a simple shot from your kid’s bb gun would deflate the problem. When it came time to pull bulls at the end of the season, simply pull the plug and let all the air out, fold them back up and put them back in the barn.
These inflatable bulls would revolutionize the cattle industry, heck they might even draw big corporate sponsors at all the national cattle shows. Until the perfect bull comes along, I guess I will continue to stretch wires, field phone calls from neighbors with fancy replacement heifers, and reward athletic fence jumping ability with nylon necklaces and trips to the sale barn. One thing to remember, no matter how hard they may try, I have never in my life seen a bull that could jump out of a freezer.
As all of you out there are testing bulls, turning them out, and handling these massive beasts, please be safe. Do your work in the cool of the morning and don’t try to handle one on the fight. That’s all for this time, pray for rain and keep tabs on your side of the barbed wire. ❖
Meinzer is a fourth-generation rancher raised on the southeastern plains of Colorado. He and his family live and ranch in Oshkosh, Neb.
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