Lesson On Safety Around Homesteading Bulls
This insightful lesson on safety around homesteading bulls comes from one of our readers, Eddie Long. He graciously agreed to share his experience so other homesteaders may learn and respect the massive power a bull has.
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As told by Eddie himself……”Here’s a lesson on safety around bulls”…. I have a four year old Holstein bull that we’ve raised from a calf. All his life he’s been as tame as a dog. Halter trained, safe for the boys and wife to work around, never an issue with him.
Until last week. We intended to butcher him this fall because we have a replacement for him, but I wanted to use him one more time to breed our milk cow.
However, a week ago, my oldest son and I were in the barn doing the milking and evening chores when my son noticed the bull had his right front foreleg over his tie chain. He went up beside him to try to get the leg free. Now my son is 24, not a weakling, and smart around animals, so don’t get a mental picture of a child doing this. The bull started bobbing around, so I stepped in and told Ben to move back and I’d get his foot from the other side.
The bull suddenly slipped a little, gave a weird roar, and ripped the manger and a section of wall framing loose. In one split second his head whipped around, and I seen in his eyes that he had gone mad. My son was behind him and in the clear, but the bull made a charge toward me. I bolted down the walkway and through the stable door with the bull on my heels. My son said afterwards he was positive the bull gored me before I got through the door.
Out through the barn we went. I was hoping to get the big barn doors shut before he could escape, but no luck. When I went through the door he was right behind me, and I jumped to the left and got behind the door. The bull went right, and ran down the driveway.
I went to the house for my other son and a light, and by the time we got back outside, the bull was halfway down the driveway making a weird keening kind of scream. We followed him to the field, but it was plain to see we weren’t getting a hand on him. After fifteen or twenty minutes of coaxing we got him into a spare paddock in the pasture, but there was no way any of us could get close enough to get the rope and remnants of lumber off his neck rope. We left him for the night.
The following morning, when my third son started down the hill to the school bus, the bull saw him and started blowing and screaming. My other two sons took a rifle and went down to wait for the bus with him. The wild behavior continued all week. A formerly tame animal had become a killer wannabe.
Last night my two oldest sons came home from work about 7:30 PM. One of them ran in and said the bull was out back of the barn. Up on checking the pasture, we seen that he had uprooted a corner post (6″ softwood post sunk four feet in the ground and double braced, and three fence stakes on one side of the corner and four on the other side. The fence was laid flat on the ground. Even though we plan to butcher him, I didn’t want to do it last night in a pouring rain at 40 degrees F. He had to go back in the barn.
My second son tried to get to the barn, but every time he went out of the house the bull would charge. We waited until the bull was out past the barn, and he slipped out and went around the back of the barn to the hay door and climbed in through the mow. My eldest son followed, and my wife and I went around and came in through a stable door once they opened the stable from inside the barn. A noose of rope laid around a five gallon pail with grain and bread in it served as the trap. I ran the heavy inch rope in through the barn and into the stable, passing the end back out through the manger window. My second son set the pail of grain out the barn door, and once the bull drove his head in it and the pail came up past his eyes, we tied the rope around his neck.
I then instructed my son to get up on the beam inside the door, putting him seven feet above the bull’s level. My wife and eldest were on the end of the rope at the haymow, and I was on the opposite side of the door with the last line of defense in case the shit hit the fan. A 30-30 rifle locked and loaded. By this time the bull was attempting to cave the barn doors in with his horns. My son pushed the barn doors open with a boat pole, and the bull marched in looking for a target. The kept drawing the rope tight until he was in the stable. I slammed the stable door shut, and with all four of us on the rope, we got him to the corner and the rope securely knotted around a beam. Then we planked that end of the stable off so that there was no way of him getting out again.
Tomorrow will be his date with the freezer.
I say all that to say this. Don’t ever trust an adult bull. It doesn’t matter how well you treat them, sooner or later they are going to turn. I’ve seen this happen a half a dozen times, although maybe not this bad.
Thank you Eddie Long from Christina and Pat here at The Homestead Survival website.