Sunday, February 1, 2009

Meet the Boys

Warning: This post may contain vague references to the story of the birds and bees as it relates to the bovine species. Please come to visit on another day if this topic makes your knees weak and shaky.

Okay, maybe this reference isn't very vague, but be honest here. Have you ever really seen these things up close and personal? Did you know that when you attend a bull sale (did you know that there is even such a thing as a bull sale?) they give you measurements such as birth weight, expected calving ease, milk production and yes - sit down for this - the circumference of their um, uh, their well, their um kahonas. I don't get it, either. Ask Danish Cowboy.

Bulls are fascinating creatures. Alarmingly large and always demanding of your respect. Hey, if they want to eat feed directly out of the pick-up, I am okay with this. They will move along in their own sweet time and I will still be phsyically intact rather than mauled to death on the cold, icy ground.
While we keep the choicest female calves every year to add to our breeding herd, the bulls are generally purchased from an outside source. This ensures that we are constantly adding fresh blood to our herd and also that we are breeding for the traits that we find most desirable. Most of our bulls are 1/2 Angus and 1/2 Gelbvieh, called "Balancer" bulls in the cattle trade. (Please don't ask me where the male calves and un-choice female calves go. I burst into tears and delve into deep depression just thinking about it.)

These animals send a chill down my spine every time I go near them. When an animal weighing 2,000 pounds or more gives you the eye, shakes his head, and charges a little bit at you, a fear unlike anything you have ever known enters your body and the occasional shriek leaves your mouth. Dirty devils. And they do that just for fun. They're not even serious about killing you most of the time.

Their aura is very similar to that of a certain high school jock that I couldn't get enough of (Mike Edwards). You want to get close to them to marvel in their physical greatness but you are in this silly, silent awe of them and can't function properly in their presence. Then they look at you and send you running in the other direction, leaving you wondering about what damage they could really do.
The bulls fight. A lot. They destroy things. A lot. Get two massive creatures fighting and you wouldn't believe the damage they can do to fences, structures, and themselves.
As much as I loathe going to feed the bulls, they are incredible animals. We keep them separated from the cows during all but the June-July breeding season. They are simply too massive to have mixed in with our cows all year long. Without them present in the main cow herd, it makes handling the cows and calves much safer and much easier. And so they live like bachelors most of the year round and seem pretty content with life as they know it.
We keep bulls on our place for only about five to six years. They get too massive and occasionally mean if we keep them any longer than that. Their reproductive system also declines in quality, meaning that their ability to breed cows declines and our profits suffer. We replace one to two bulls every spring with yearling critters like this little red guy. It should be interesting to see how he does come June. Considering that our cows are, on average, two feet taller than him, how is that going to work? There's a question to ponder over your dinner. He is either going to need to be an incredible physical specimen in some areas or he'll need a stepstool. Let me know your answer.
Lovingly providing you with the facts of life,
The Bull Expert


  1. Alyssa on occasion continues to talk about our adventure on our visit to catch the escaped bull. And Pappy (not Uncle Kevin) fixing the fence. And Laney sharing some fruit snacks.


  2. ah, Mike Edwards, a blast from the past. :)