Ghost is back
Ghost, our big Charolais bull, has had another pair of adventures, though I’m certain he wouldn’t think either of them would be considered pleasant. As you faithful readers know, his previous misadventures have made him a character in this Daunt to Dillonwood column more than once.
I bought the bull from a neighbor who was using him on the open range. The next day after turning him out, I thought it might be a good idea to ride out in the back field to make sure he hadn’t tried to return home. I rode all over the field, then into the neighbors field, and finally all the way around the hills until I was across the Tule from Springville. No bull was visible, but neither were any tracks. Either he’d gone a different direction, or I’d missed something. I decided I might as well return home.
Coming over the last ridge, there was my new herd sire. Laying in among gray-white granite boulders, he was resting in the shade of an oak tree. He was nearly the same color as the stone, and though I’d looked in that direction, he’d been nearly indistinguishable. After that one, I called him Ghost.
All had been quiet with Ghost until one day last week. I was working as a notary in a nearby home when my phone rang. My bride was very upset. She’d heard a horrible ruckus from the barn. Excitedly, she tried to describe the problem to me. Ghost was “stuck” in the concrete manger.
By the time I returned, change clothes, and got to the barn, the big bull was tired. He’d tried to get up, but with his head against a divider-panel, he couldn’t stretch forward. His hind feet were out over the edge, with his rear in a half-twist and his back hard up against the side of the barn. I was able to get his feet down into the manger with his hips, but he still couldn’t get on his feet.
I thought maybe once the divider was chopped out, giving him some room in front, I thought maybe that give him enough room. No luck. However, before we could get something ready to lift his hips, he began to struggle, and finally stood in the manger, then gingerly stepped out.
As soon as he stood, another bull belonging to a neighbor started acting in an aggressive manner. I ran him out of the corral. It was quite it apparent what had happened. Ghost had gotten butted in the ribs, tripped over the side of the manger, and was upended with his feet sticking out over the side. Needless to say, the neighbor’s bull has been sent home, and peace has returned, at least for the moment.
Ghost was not happy leaving well enough alone, eating hay and grass, and doing what he was supposed to do for the cow herd. Fences are always needing repair somewhere. Mostly, they are tight and snug and contain the animals. Other times, there is a spot where it is a little too loose or slack.
On a recent morning, I was outside doing morning chores around the hilltop. I looked around the hills, only to find Ghost up near one of those spots in the fence I knew to be loose.
“Oh no. Is that old bull trying to find a way to get out? Or ... is he ...? Oh man, not again.”
Ghost was not standing near the fence. He was, one more time, in the fence. Once again his front feet were outside the field, his back feet between the barbed wires. He couldn’t, or wouldn’t, lift his hind legs high enough to get free. Fortunately, he is a very quiet animal, and was waiting patiently for me to get him free. Within moments, I loosened the fence, which released the big bull.
He walked away a few feet, then turned toward the corner. I knew the gate there was closed, so walked that direction. The faster I walked, the faster Ghost walked. I wasn’t going to keep him from getting to the hay.
When he discovered the gate was closed, he slid to a stop. Giggling at him, I opened the gate and moved out of the way. Slowly, he strolled through, turned toward the barn. He never looked back to thank me, as he lumbered toward the barn.
The past year ended with a good wet December, bringing 4.05 inches of rain in my rain gauge. With less than an inch prior to then, the hills remained brown rather than turning green with the first rains. Though the good December rains started the grass, the weather during the day remains fairly cool, so the grass is only growing a little. The filaree plants are well started, and getting ready to spring up when daytime temperatures warm.
I was a bit startled a few days ago, to find a gopher mound. During the winter gophers will sometimes dig venting holes, not pushing up any dirt into the familiar mounds. But when I’ve seen them pushing up dirt in previous years, it was a harbinger of spring. The first week of January is at least six week too early. Are the winter rains nearly over? Does that gopher know something? I sure hope not.
Brent Gill lives in Springville. His “Daunt to Dillonwood” column appears regularly in The Porterville Recorder. If you enjoyed this column, follow my blog at: http://foothillwriter.blogspot.com.