What a load of bull!
Once upon a time a clueless romance author traveled to a Montana cattle ranch to learn how to be a cowboy.
She was enthusiastic about everything, since it was all new. One cold day her hosts took her to the home of a strange old man to see about buying a bull. The result was not pretty.
The land was interesting, as the property was tucked into rugged hills. A forest fire a previous dry year had killed most of the trees on top of the ridges. But in June of 2011 Mother Nature had provided the opposite, and the land was flooded. In addition, my host had been crushed by a horse and needed a walker to stand or move. That meant we had to move the bulls from where they were comfortable, to where they could be viewed and loaded.
Ellie the ranch hand and I were told to walk behind the bulls, a crop of one-year-olds and a mean-looking four year old, encouraging them to squish through the mud, over a track, and into the viewing pen. In some parts we had to cling to the sides of the fence as the mud was knee-deep. But we slowly progressed, following them silently. Silently, as I was told they were used to the owner but didn’t like strangers.
We got them into the right place, an open pen at the end of the eight-foot-wide path, and were told to keep them there. Now, two women, armed with nothing but smiles, cannot convince a group of bulls to do anything. But, once more, we did as we were told. We stood with our backs to a shed with a corrugated metal roof. The fence was beyond the shed.
Yes, folks we were inside the fence with a group of unhappy bulls. They eyed us, wanting to return to their usual pasture. One of them started back that way and Ellie moved to cut him off.
Bad idea. B-A-A-A-D idea!
He charged us. I remember turning my back to escape but there was nowhere to go but on top of the shed roof. I lifted my hands to climb up, but it was too high. Next thing I know Ellie is screaming at me to get my ass around the corner to the ladder and Get On The Roof!
Not sure how I got up there, but I did. That’s when Ellie told me that her grandfather, just last year, had been near stomped to death by his favorite bull. A bull who knew and was used to him. But the bull didn’t like the shiny new shovel he carried. It was the shovel that he used to fend off the bull so that he wasn’t killed.
Then Ellie pointed out perhaps my red raincoat was not a good idea when shopping for bulls.
With my left arm covered with an orange concoction used for pretty much anything, I pulled up my Big Cowgirl Panties and helped load one yearling (not the one which charged me) and the four-year-old. On the way back to the ranch we stopped at the Montana Silversmith shop. I bought myself a shiny oval belt buckle with a longhorn bull on it.
I might not have earned my spurs, but I sure earned that buckle!