Eventually we all have a date with our demons.
Put on your big girls pants!
The running of the bulls takes place every year in Pamplona, Spain and as a rancher I have no idea why anyone in their right mind would want to run in front of a raging, testosterone laden pack of huge animals that would like nothing better than to reduce mere humans to bull burgers. Personally, the only vantage point I would like to have is high above the streets at a small cafe table sipping a cool sangria, a la Ernest Hemingway. I have never aspired to be in the front of such a pack until I had no choice.
Last summer we bought 10 new registered, black Angus 3-ways to add to our herd. In our business this terminology means that we bought a cow that is pregnant with a calf by its side, thus 3-way. It just so happened that the bull calves we bought were exceptionally nice bulls, weighed, registered with all of their complete birthing statistics. They were just too nice to castrate so we decided to grow them out and sell them as breeding bulls. This is not part of our normal business plan but any smart rancher when faced with an opportunity will take it if they can. Everything progressed without a hitch until they grew into large, semen machines ready to spread their wealth.
The difficulty started when I waxed poetic to my husband about how we should learn to work our cattle on our own. Having help is great but it takes away our flexibility so I felt we really needed to become as self-sufficient as possible. I love having the help of our family and friends but it isn't the best business model. We don't always have the luxury of waiting until it is convenient for everyone else to work our cattle. BUSTED! My husband decided the bull roundup would be the perfect time to call me on my constant haranguing.
Our first foray into working as a tag team entailed getting several bulls in, loading them into our trailer, depositing them into our working drum shoot, doctoring, branding and loading them again for delivery to our respective customers. Herding them into the first pens for loading was about the time that I realized that I was working with an entirely different element. Cows generally take off when I do my famous, wobbling balloon, crazy, car dealership moving monster dance. It works every time, off they run, not interested in buying a Ford truck today! Wheee! Bulls, forget it! They look at you, snort and hold their ground or charge. Wow, I wasn't used to this and I was scared. I decided right off I didn't like these breeding machines. I was out of my element and well aware of the fact that they could hurt me bad. Too late, my husband called me on the whole self-sufficiency thing so I had no choice but to put on my big girl pants and put my money where my mouth was.
Things started out well. We got them in but the trouble started when we tried to load them into the trailer. A few were slightly cooperative but one was insane, running everywhere stirring up the entire bunch. My husband was out numbered and needed more leverage because the crazy one jumped six feet in the air crashing down on the gate separating the two pens. With little effort he pulled the gate straight off its hinges and flattened it. We fixed the gate, tried again and the bull flew through the air in a perfect leap and crashed the gate down again. Steam was now rising from my husband's cowboy hat. Things were not going well so to close the gap, my husband's flag was not long enough, he grabbed the only thing available; a huge, yellow feather duster. I can't describe what it was like to watch my husband running around with a flag and a feather duster after a bunch of unruly bulls. I was trying to help but when I get really uncomfortable my nervousness usually makes me laugh like a hyena. Watching this crazy scene unfold it was all I could do to control myself, so I didn't. I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe, he was pissed and the bulls were crazy. We had to stop because this circus was about to blow off the big top!
Working with so many crazy horses over the years, my husband has learned that when things get out of control with animals you just have to stop and let them settle, it is the only hope you have of restoring order, so stop we did. We walked away and came back much later. Finally the bulls had settled so we were able to load them on the trailer, do our business, reload them and off they went to their new homes.
I realized later that working together without help is easy in theory but not always in reality. It doesn't mean we shouldn't keep working at it, it just means it is easier said than done. I also realized I don't like working with bulls, they intimidate me, make me feel out of my element and I am not comfortable around them. I am really happy that bulls are not our primary business, I'll take cow/calf any day!
The bulls are sold and soon the last of them will be gone. Thank god for that because then I can put my big girl pants in the wash, prop up my feet in front of a fire and pour myself a big old Sangria! Cheers to the running of the bulls! Have at it! I think I'll sit this one out!
Love it, LIve it and Share the joy! Always "The Princess"
Food has been at the core of my life for thirty years. My travels have taken me all over the world creating a rich tapestry of experiences that have shaped my philosophies on cooking. My life now as a cattle rancher combines that experience with the knowledge of what it actually takes to get food from the ranch to the table.
Cowboys's aren't just boys!