This is an old story — as indicated by the date in the first sentence. The reason I am posting it is that — I have another story about the bovine creatures at Shady Acres that I’ve been wanting to tell — and wanted to reference this story. Alas and alack! This story, though in my book, is so old, it never appeared in a blog posting. Many of you have heard it. Many of you have read it in my book. But for those who haven’t — here is one of my favorite stories about life at Shady Acres and the neighborhood that we call home. Sadly, two of the integral people who helped on this infamous day have gone to their reward. I would just like to say that I deeply miss my dear friend, here referred to as “Good Wife Joan,” as well as our neighbor, Roland Willey, also a dear friend and trusty neighbor.
Now it came to pass on the very first day of September, in the year of our Lord, 2004, that Certain Man’s wife was complacently enjoying a busy morning of preparing for State Inspection. On impulse, that very morning, she had hired a friend, Alma Miller, to help clean the kitchen cabinets, and CMW was working at cleaning the bedroom that was to be inspected. It was a beautiful morning. There was a good breeze, the sky was blue, and all was well.
CMW had other reasons to rejoice.
For several weeks,one of the male bovines that Certain Man kept for meat had been showing signs of aggression, indeed, had charged Certain Man on a number of occasions, with great bellows and kicking up of the dirt. Now this Meany Pest of a bull was only 18 months old. Certain Man had not had him neutered because he had never had a problem with other bulls when he hadn’t,and he liked it that an un-neutered bull would convert better to meat. Since he only keeps his meat animals for two years, it had never been a problem. Until now.
This turn of events had been enough disconcerting to Certain Man that he had called the Honorable Allen Beachy and had him come and “band” the two young calves that he was raising for the spring of 2006. That done, he also called the butcher shop and arranged for the slaughter of Meany Pest. Immediately. With the traffic of people and children through the property of Certain Man, he didn’t want to take a risk. It was too late to tackle the neutering business with Meany Pest. Unfortunately,slaughter time was a few weeks out, so close watch had been kept until this very morning when Friend, Tommy Eliason had come with his cattle trailer and hauled him off. CMW drew a great sigh of relief that was matched by her husband.
Now, at the same time that CM had procured Meany Pest, he had gotten another male calf which grew up along side of MP. What Meany Pest had in aggression, Second Fellow, though also un-neutered, made up for in friendliness and complacency. When Tommy Eliason came to pick up MP, Second Fellow wanted to go, too, and tried to stick his head into the truck.. Certain Man and Tommy enjoyed a chuckle at the friendly fellow’s expense. They had to chase him away.
When Certain Man came in from sending Meany Pest off, he said to CMW, “Now,I locked the other three in the front pasture. Second Fellow is pretty upset, and I don’t want him getting out.”
Certain Man has always maintained fences in proper order, and it is a rare day when any of his animals get out. He learned the hard way that it is no fun to have creatures running around at night on busy roads. So he has a high tensile fence that has electric on the inside of it, nearly all the way around his pasture. He has a four foot high board fence that runs for a short distance between buildings, and he keeps all his fences in good repair. He has a large back pasture,well fenced, where he allows the animals to run around and graze, but it is behind the chicken houses, and out of deference to CMW, who cannot see back there from the house, he decided to confine them on the smaller, front pasture,where they could get into the barn if they wanted to.
The morning was so pleasant that the windows were open in the house, and all morning, Second Fellow was protesting loudly. Around eleven o’clock, he sounded louder and nearer, and Youngest Daughter of CM and CMW went to look what was going on.
“Oh, my goodness, MOM, there is a bull out. A BIG Bull. Oh, my, it is one of the big ones, Mom!!!”
Certain Man’s Wife went out the back door to the deck, and sure enough, there was Second Fellow, prancing across the yard. Behold, her heart made a very fast trip to her shoes. He looked so determined and “bullish.” She looked around for ammunition, and laid her hands upon a Stanley broom that was conveniently leaning against the deck. She hollered for Youngest Daughter to call her father, and took out across the yard as fast as her 50 year old body would allow her. In the past,getting animals back into their pens has been challenging but not impossible,and she had a great deal of optimism as to how quickly she would conquer again.
But something had happened to Second Fellow. He had caught wind of a heifer in heat who belonged to a neighbor. He was determined to seek her out. By this time, Friend Alma had seen the predicament, and had come to join the fray. CMW sent Youngest Daughter out to the cow pen to open the gate. Youngest Daughter thoughtfully locked the two younger (now) steers in the barn, and opened the large gate wide to the front pasture. Friend Alma’s young son stood on the deck and yelled.
Second Fellow saw two determined humans coming across the yard, and was suddenly urged to run in the direction of the road. He lowered his head and charged blindly toward the poorly armed females who were supposed to be directing him in the way that he should go. Whop! Went the broom, scarcely making contact, but diverting him slightly. Friend Alma and CMW ran to and fro, trying to herd obstinate Second Fellow towards the barn. Every time they achieved a few yards, down would go the head, and with a bellow, back the bull would charge. CMW noticed that he was not kicking up any dirt with his bellow, but it did not comfort her heart very much. It occurred to her that there were many guardian angels standing between the bull and the two inadequately armed females, for time and time again, he would head for them, only to turn aside in the nick of time. Unfortunately, it was pretty obvious who was winning the battle of the wills despite angelic protection.
After perhaps five or six time of attempting to head him off at the road, kindly neighbor, Eddie,noticed that there was considerable difficulty going on in the yard across the road. He and neighbor Steve left their task of putting siding on the house and came to help. One of them had a stick, and CMW had her faithful Stanley broom, but otherwise the crew was unarmed.
Said CMW, “I surely do wish Daniel would get here!”
Said Kindly Neighbor Eddie, “What would he do? Does he have a secret?”
“Not that I know of,” said CMW heatedly, “but it would be HIS problem!”
About then, Kindly Neighbor Eddie’s wife,Joan, appeared to lend her strong arm, and a shiny red convertible also stopped. Friend Bethany had seen the dilemma and decided to help, too. CMW thought ruefully that RED was not especially the color that she had in mind for the present situation, but there was no doubt that help was needed, so she welcomed the extra body. By now there were fully seven people in hot pursuit of seemingly demented bull.
They managed to chase Second Fellow up the chicken house lane for a short distance, when he suddenly caught on to the idea that it was not the right direction. He turned and lowered his horns and headed back out the drive. Sticks and brooms and bodies had no effect upon him whatsoever, and the posse scattered before him in grave disarray. He headed out towards the road again, and then turned and trotted along the edge of the fenced woods where he was sure that his intended was hiding. He bellowed and stopped and sniffed and bellowed and trotted. Of course, all the traffic on the busy road beside CM’s farm were beginning to take note, and cars were going by slowly while gawking at the motley crew, and some were pulling off to see if there was something they could do. Chicken trucks and work vans, jalopies and mini vans, town cars and meter readers got all jammed up on the road. CMW’s face was as red as a turkey gobbler, and not just from exertion. WHY DIDN’T CERTAIN MAN COME HOME???
Then the owner of the heifer, Neighbor Willey, came forth from his house down the road. He had probably heard rather than seen the hubbub, guessed what the problem was, and secured offending female far from the site of the battle. He picked up a sturdy stick and came to help, too.
With his approach, Second Fellow decided to turn around and head back up the fence line towards Shady Acres. With great difficulty and many yells and whops with the weapons, the Bull was directed towards the back pasture. CM had been called again, and he informed frantic Youngest Daughter that he was heading for home (in earnest with his state truck and his flashers going). CMW was pretty sure that they would be getting the bull in right before he got there, and that is exactly what happened. Just before he sped in the lane, Neighbors Eddie and Steve managed to drive him into the back pasture and hook up the electric fence.
Things started to calm down a little then. CMW was panting and tired, and the neighbors were saying friendly things about how “That’s what neighbors are for…” and CM was going back to bring Second Fellow to the front pasture and secure him there. CMW was heading out towards the barn when she saw Second Fellow come around the edge of the barn at a gallop. At this inopportune time, she remembered that she did not know how he had escaped in the first place. It suddenly occurred to her that the two little ones had been inside the fence the entire time he was out. It didn’t make sense. A great feeling of dread came over her as she saw him make a straight bee-line for the four foot wooden fence. Was there a break in it somewhere? She watched in disbelief as Second Fellow trotted up to the fence and in one smooth motion was OVER it! If it hadn’t been so terrible, it would have been beautiful. A perfect Olympic jump.
Believe me, there was some shrieking going on then! Certain Man jumped in his truck and headed out the chicken house lane,trying to head him off. If it had been his own pick up instead of his work truck, he said that he would have run into the critter, but since he needed to be careful with the state’s property, he was unable to stop him. Once again, out on the road,traffic stopped, and neighbors running and helping. CMW was inclined to go inside and pretend that she wasn’t home,but she ran and herded and whopped with her faithful Stanley broom until the entire group had successfully herded him to the entrance to the pasture.
Certain Man had gotten out his blacksnake whip and was making good use of it. Just before going through the gate, Second Fellow made a mighty dash for freedom. Certain Man snapped him soundly with the blacksnake whip, but lost his footing and fell into a very green, very stinky body of water that was left over from the latest rain. His efforts to divert the bull were effective, though, and while he picked himself out of the muck, the neighbors closed in and Second Fellow went back into the pasture.
CMW and Friend Alma and Neighbor Willey, and Neighbor Eddie and his Good Wife Joan, took up positions along the board fence. Good Wife Joan held the black snake whip, CM held the faithful Stanley broom and the guys stood there and looked MENACING. Youngest Daughter went into barn and called cheerfully to Second Fellow with promises of FEED. Certain Man gave her instructions from the pasture. Second Fellow was drawn by the cheery voice. He was tired from so much running. He ambled over and looked in the door. He went in a few feet. She continued to coax and call him from behind the feed bunker. Certain Man sidled over, out of sight, while she wove her deceptive web. Finally, Second Fellow was far enough in to shut the metal gate behind him. Oh,NO! It was hooked to the wall. Second Fellow acted like he was going to go out again. Youngest daughter took advantage of the situation to scramble into the pen and unhook the gate so it could swing free, then went back to her wheedling, cajoling call. Again, the pull was strong, and Second Fellow turned back towards the feed bunk.
Certain Man, muddy and stinky looked at the great mud hole between him and the gate and did not waver a single moment. Good work shoes and all, he plowed through the mud that was deeper than his shoes and grabbed the gate. Second Fellow made one final dash for freedom,but CM hollered mightily. When Second Fellow paused, CM clanged the gate shut, and this time the offending animal wasfully trapped. Metal bars and chains and cement would need to be moved for him to escape this time.
“Whew!” said everyone.
“That was fun,” said Good Wife Joan. “Quite a diversion from a boring afternoon.”
Neighbor Eddie and Neighbor Willey did not say much. CMW noticed that they were looking positively cheerful, though.
“I’m glad I was here!” said Friend Alma. “I’ve had lots of experience chasing animals when I was a girl!”
“You aren’t half as glad as I am,” said CMW. “What would I have ever done without help?”
“That’s what neighbors are for…” said Good Wife Joan, again.
“Well,” said CMW, “I am quite certain of one thing. There is going to be a steak dinner one of these days and everyone who helped is going to be invited!”
That was well received, and the neighbors went back to their jobs and CMW went back into the house to cool off and rest her weary bones. CM, after making double sure of everything in the barn, came back into the house to change his clothes and shoes and to go back to work. He would have to call this time at home his lunch hour for the day, and CMW felt sorry for him. But the bull was in, he was cleaned up, and he could get into his air conditioned truck and leave. That didn’t sound like too bad a deal to CMW. She needed to keep on getting ready for the coming inspections. But first, she needed to write a story.
So, that is the news from Shady Acres, where Certain Man is working on a new electric fence that will compliment a particular board fence, Certain Man’s Wife’s face still feels hot and her knees feel weak, and Youngest Daughter is the only one of the children who was witness to the events of this momentous day.