Thursday, 30 May 2013

Beware of the Bull.

You used to sometimes see such a sign in a field - they seem to have all disappeared now.    But that does not necessarily mean that all bulls are safe these days - nor cows for that matter.   A cow with a young calf can be very aggressive indeed - in fact someone was killed up here in The Dales only last year in such an incident.

When I look out of my sitting room window I look out onto what is called a 'suckler herd' - that is a herd of cows with young calves at foot.   This time of year there is also a bull in the field with them.   He considers these mature ladies to belong to him - he keeps them in order, he looks after them, he mates with them when the time is right and he keeps his eye on his offspring.   He is a big, lumbering British Blue bull and his owner has always described him as a very docile chap.

And yet two years ago he had a bit of a limp so G, the farmer, decided to get him indoors and investigate the limp before it got any worse.   So far so good; that is until the moment when it was time to actually go into the shed.   At this point - being separated from his ladies - he had had enough and he turned and knocked G down, pushing him into the corner.   It was only the timely arrival of G's father D with a handy pitchfork that saved the situation and resulted in a lot of bruising rather than something much worse.

The moral of this story is that you can never trust a bull - or a cow - they need to be given as wide a berth as possible.   I have walked on footpaths up here where bulls have actually been laying across the path and the walker has had to go round them.   I have always found it scary - farmers usually say 'they won't hurt you - only dairy bulls are really nasty' - I personally take that with a pinch of salt.

The farmer has gone to a funeral.   One of our local veterinary surgeons has died suddenly at the age of 84.   He was greatly respected by everyone who knew him and was at one time one of the advisors to the popular TV series 'All Creatures Great and Small'.

The funeral started at 12 noon but the farmer went down into the town at 11am, knowing that there would be hundreds at the funeral and that only an early arrival would ensure a seat inside the church rather than standing outside in the rain. Funerals up here in The Dales are really important occasions.   Everyone who has known the person who has died will go to pay their last respects.   There will be a 'wake' afterwards at which everyone will mingle with folk they have known for years - and often only see at funerals.   I hope this practice never dies out - it is surely a comfort to the families concerned and it is also a tradition that needs to live on.

14 comments:

jill said...

Hi Pat hope you are well.I know somebody who was quite badley injured when attacked by cows while walking through the field on a foot path,they where quite lucky not to have being killed by them.We had a funeral in our village last week one of the local farmers and there was hundreds there just as you have described.I hope that this practice never dies as well.Love Jill xx

Arija said...

Pat, I am in full agreement with you regarding the upkeep of customs, they are the glue of a community.
All farm animals need to be treated with respect and a certain amount of circumspection. Pigs can certainly bowl you over with ease and break both your legs at the same time. A sheep can run you down when aggrieved and do great damage. It all depends on circumstance. Luckily all our bulls have been docile but when feeding cattle, one does need to keep a wary eye out.

Sarah Byng, Who Could Not Read and Was Tossed into a Thorny Hedge by a Bull
BY HILAIRE BELLOC
Some years ago you heard me sing
My doubts on Alexander Byng.
His sister Sarah now inspires
My jaded Muse, my failing fires.
Of Sarah Byng the tale is told
How when the child was twelve years old
She could not read or write a line.
Her sister Jane, though barely nine,
Could spout the Catechism through
And parts of Matthew Arnold too,
While little Bill who came between
Was quite unnaturally keen
On 'Athalie', by Jean Racine.
But not so Sarah! Not so Sal!
She was a most uncultured girl
Who didn't care a pinch of snuff
For any literary stuff
And gave the classics all a miss.
Observe the consequence of this!
As she was walking home one day,
Upon the fields across her way
A gate, securely padlocked, stood,
And by its side a piece of wood
On which was painted plain and full,
BEWARE THE VERY FURIOUS BULL
Alas! The young illiterate
Went blindly forward to her fate,
And ignorantly climbed the gate!
Now happily the Bull that day
Was rather in the mood for play
Than goring people through and through
As Bulls so very often do;
He tossed her lightly with his horns
Into a prickly hedge of thorns,
And stood by laughing while she strode
And pushed and struggled to the road.
The lesson was not lost upon
The child, who since has always gone
A long way round to keep away
From signs, whatever they may say,
And leaves a padlocked gate alone.
Moreover she has wisely grown
Confirmed in her instinctive guess
That literature breeds distress.

Sarah Byng, Who Could Not Read and Was Tossed into a Thorny Hedge by a Bull
BY HILAIRE BELLOC
Some years ago you heard me sing
My doubts on Alexander Byng.
His sister Sarah now inspires
My jaded Muse, my failing fires.
Of Sarah Byng the tale is told
How when the child was twelve years old
She could not read or write a line.
Her sister Jane, though barely nine,
Could spout the Catechism through
And parts of Matthew Arnold too,
While little Bill who came between
Was quite unnaturally keen
On 'Athalie', by Jean Racine.
But not so Sarah! Not so Sal!
She was a most uncultured girl
Who didn't care a pinch of snuff
For any literary stuff
And gave the classics all a miss.
Observe the consequence of this!
As she was walking home one day,
Upon the fields across her way
A gate, securely padlocked, stood,
And by its side a piece of wood
On which was painted plain and full,
BEWARE THE VERY FURIOUS BULL
Alas! The young illiterate
Went blindly forward to her fate,
And ignorantly climbed the gate!
Now happily the Bull that day
Was rather in the mood for play
Than goring people through and through
As Bulls so very often do;
He tossed her lightly with his horns
Into a prickly hedge of thorns,
And stood by laughing while she strode
And pushed and struggled to the road.
The lesson was not lost upon
The child, who since has always gone
A long way round to keep away
From signs, whatever they may say,
And leaves a padlocked gate alone.
Moreover she has wisely grown
Confirmed in her instinctive guess
That literature breeds distress.

Arija said...

Sorry, the poem printed double.

Heather said...

I have always been nervous of bulls and cows but some people seem to think that because they are loose in a field they are harmless. I think dog walkers need to be especially careful.
To know that your loved one was so well liked when hundreds turn up at the funeral must bring great comfort. A friend of mine was surprised when the church was filled with young people at her son's funeral - he was only 25. She said she hadn't realised he had so many friends.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I agree it's important to value to social element of a funeral, the 'wake' is a lovely tradition

As to cows, long ago i did some flower surveys on an RSPB nature reserve. The fields were full of Belted Galloway cows, who were totally fascinated by the strange person in their field. At one point, i looked up from my surveying to find myself totally surrounded by cows, all looking at the flowers and mooing gently. It was very disconcerting

angryparsnip said...

Interesting post, you have cows and bull I have Javelinas who roam freely where I live and even in more populated areas. They will attack to protect the herd and babies. Dogs off leash especially.
Walking early in the morning mountain lions and bobcats can be everywhere, especially in the winter when they come down from the mountains.

cheers, parsnip

Dartford Warbler said...

I have a lot of respect for cattle, specially if I meet some commoners` cattle when I`m out walking in the New Forest. There are various breeds and cross breeds about, but the Belted Galloway and the Charolais crosses seem to be the grumpiest. It`s best to take a detour, especially if you have a dog on a lead as I usually do.

Funerals and Memorial Services are important rituals. They must have been enacted in some form or another since people began to live in social groups.They certainly seem to be part and parcel of village life here.

Joanne Noragon said...

I have lived in this community "only" twenty five years. Still considered a "come here" person, as opposed to a "from here" person. Several years ago a town stalwart died too soon, in his sixties. When I arrived at the funeral the church, the basement and the street were full. As I stood in the street and listened over hastily found loudspeakers, my tears were as much for the community as for the man. Such spirit.

John Gray said...

I want a funeral like the one you describe....
But with much wringing of hands

Tom Stephenson said...

A mate of mine had his neck broken by cows here a couple of years ago, and is lucky to walk. Another has the same happen in the same field a year later, and another was killed about a month ago - all in the same field and by the same cows.

Cro Magnon said...

I trust all cows implicitly; but never a cow with a young calf. My greatest animal fear is directed towards HORSES; a fear intiated by my own 'Misty'.

Cro Magnon said...

'intiated'? Surely you meant 'initiated'. Yes I did.

Dave King said...

I do remember my brother and I being chased by a cow. We had wandered too close to her and her calf. Lovely post.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Some really interesting comments today - thank you. Poor Tom to know of three people all injured by cows in the same field.
Cro - I am personally much more scared of horses - living on a farm I am used to cows but horses - that is another story altogether.