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Sunday, January 08 2012

They say hindsight is 20/20. Decisions in life seem so clear when looking back. At this point, I must borrow from Shakespeare.

"To thine own self be true."

I sit and ponder these words as I look out in the roping arena and see this:

He is a pitiful sight. Our bull went blind this week. The vet says he has a 50-50 chance of recovery. If Bully doesn't recover, we will most likely have to eat him, because a blind bull is a dangerous creature. Bully is small, but he still weighs about 1500 lbs. Imagine something the size of a Volkswagon Beetle scared and blind. He cannot see fences. He cannot see Border Collies. He cannot see us.  He is helpless. He is dangerous.

And I blame myself.

Several days ago, I noticed that Bully wasn't coming in with the House Cows to feed in the morning. Because of recent rains, the feeder area was a sloppy mess. I could see Bully in the distance beside the hay bale, so I assumed he was being a prima dona who didn't want to get his feet muddy.  He was standing, so he must be okay.  For three mornings I resisted the urge to walk out and check on him because Other Half is always cautioning me,

"They're cows! Quit coddling the livestock. You could make a pet out of a mountain lion."

He's right. I have the uncanny ability to make a pet out of anything with fur. But the sale of cattle is money, and beef is food, so I resist the urge to make pets of the cows.  Still, that little voice said, "Maybe you should go see if Bully is okay."

I was immediately chided by another voice that snapped, "Quit trying to make pets out of everything. He's standing. He's fine."

Oh, how I wish I'd been true to myself and babied the cattle.

The rancher next door saw him first. He called Other Half who called the vet.  The vet says an infection (like a cold) has settled in his eyes and he needs massive antibiotics to recover. There is a 50-50 chance that he'll regain his sight.

Yesterday we spent a heartbreaking afternoon trying to coax a 1500 lb frightened animal into a wooden corral. He walked into barbed wire fences. (I HATE that stuff!) He walked into corral panels. But fortunately he didn't run over anyone. In Bully's favor is his wonderful temperament.  He is a very calm and easy-going bull. On a good day, Bully is lazy and never in a hurry to get anywhere. When he can't see, Bully is even less likely to take off at a dead run.

We couldn't use the dogs because that wouldn't be fair to Bully or the dog, so we were reduced to walking near him with a sorting stick (not a shock stick) and tentatively poking him. It was slow and agonizing work. Several times Other Half was ready to give up and shoot him, but I wanted to give Bully a chance - give the antibiotics a chance. I owed it to him.

The infection came on quickly, and even if I'd brought him in 4 days earlier it may not have made any difference in the outcome, but still, I should have been on top of things. I wasn't, and so I'm determined to give Bully every chance I can.

We finally managed to get him doctored and in a safe place. He was hungry, he was dehydrated, and he'd lost a lot of weight. 

We moved a Seeing-Eye Cow in with him.  Daisy Mae just hit the lottery.

 "Wooo hoo!"

By default, she gets to return to the life of a show cow, something Bully has never experienced.  We may move another pregnant cow in there with him too. Both Paisley and Daisy Mae are first time mothers and both are due soon. If they are close to the house, we can keep a better eye on them. Normally we hope for heifer calves, but this year, we're hoping to have some nice bull calves to get a replacement for Bully.  This, of course, guarantees a bumper crop of heifer calves.

So Bully will spend the next month or two being coddled. Even if he doesn't regain his sight, we cannot butcher him until the antibiotics are out of his system so it buys him more coddle time.

And I have some time to work on my Shakespeare. In the future, whenever I am tempted to go against my own nature, I'll think of this and be reminded.

"To thine own self be true."

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 07:57 am   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
Is this Pink eye?? He looks so sad.
Posted by Liz [Vic Aust.] on 01/08/2012 - 05:53 PM
Poor old boy, those eyes look awful. I too had hard experience with more than one herd bull. I learned "ALWAYS HALTER BREAK THE HERD BULL. ALWAYS. Say this to your self 3 times, then three timees again. I also learned that a jackknife and a couple of apples will get a whole herd of Angus anywhere you want them to go, if you have enough apples. We had 3 bulls at a time with the herd, so I really do speak from experience. Hope the anitbiotics work for Bully. Liby in Maine
Posted by Libby on 01/08/2012 - 11:24 PM
But how do you keep them tame? Once turned out with the herd, even the pampered show heifers revert to being wild creatures who don't want to be touched. Horses stay tame, no matter how infrequently they're handled, but it's like a cow just knows that you're not really friends, you're just fattening them up for Big Macs.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 01/09/2012 - 11:48 PM
Keeping them tame, halters, I used to catch the bulls,with at least a couple of cows for defense, every spring and fall, sneak a halter on them and then use the apple trick to get close enough to have them follow me, brush them also, not a big deal, but use your favorite old boss herd cow. When they were young it wasn't hard but as they aged it got to be a project. We put the whole herd in coral when separating calfies, thats about 120 head plus calfs, just didn't make a big deal out of it. when we were separating calfs we always took bulls out of herd, they liked grain so used to look forward toit.
Posted by Libby on 01/10/2012 - 02:43 PM

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