by Charlotte Cannon

The great bull escape

Fox Point Farm

The time Clyde went to town.

I had the big idea that I wanted cows for us to play with in Parelli Camp, so I asked my friend Dwayne Fultz to pick us some appropriate prospects. I requested cute cows with small horns that would move, but not be mean when we pushed them. He arrived last Tuesday with a small bull and cow for us. They were perfect! They were roping 'steers' who were 'over' that and ready for new horizons; I do not think any of us imagined how many new horizons were in their near future.

Tommy told me cows were like water, you can never keep them in any pasture; I thought he was exaggerating. But by Wednesday (the very next day) the bull was missing. I figured he was in the back pasture, and we were so busy looking for Glory that I gave him little thought at first. By Saturday I began to fret so Tommy (who did get credit for being correct) went looking for him. At dusk he thought he heard him across the railroad tracks behind our house mooing; we would look more Sunday. But on Sunday there was no sign. We were puzzled. Campers and their horses were arriving and my attention was focused on them. I felt great disappointment because our one cow was too tiny to push around alone.

When Joey rode over today, I was busy teaching and wondered what he needed. He exclaimed "I have good news and bad news! The good news is your bull has been seen; the bad news it was on Chestnut Lane, then running down Main Street, then at the Police Station, then captured at the Fire Department." Unfortunately he didn't know what had happened next. He did have the number for the fire department and we called. The chief did say a bull was caught there last Thursday and was hauled off to Bull Jail in Tradesville. He was thinking it may not be my bull and asked for a description, "he is brindle, black with brown stripes, 2 back white socks with black spots in them, a star on his face, and one horn going a little up and one horn going a little down" I said (good thing I had studied him so closely). The chief said "I don't think it was your bull, this one had both horns pointing up. But you may come and look at the pictures to see if you like."

Tommy couldn't believe there could possibly be another loose bull in downtown Lancaster and if there were, perhaps this town is more country than we even thought. Joey led us over to the Fire Station several miles away. When we arrived the chief was gone but fortunately his helper was there. He too thought the description was close but still it was probably not my bull. He did tell us the original report was that a steer was loose; but when it got there he realized it was actually a small bull - 'he checked'. The pictures did confirm it was ours and we got the number to the son of the guy who took the bull home.

When we got home I called the son he promised his Dad would call, but he too thought it wasn't my bull out in their pasture. When Joel Laney, the Dad called me I was ready to have Clyde back and be done with all this identification. He exclaimed he didn't think it was my bull, I told him I identified his picture at the Fire Station - and actually it was. He said he was turned out with his cows and wasn't sure he could get him up. I told him Dwayne could come with his horse, dogs and rope - he quickly decided he would try in the next few days to get him up. He didn't really soften until I told him that our Bull (Clyde) had a very depressed wife (Bonnie) at home, who was missing him terribly. I don't suppose he had ever heard of a bull having a wife; he laughed and seemed more likely to make an effort to catch our bull.

The next day Joel did call. He had my bull up in a stall and I needed to come pick him up quickly. Lauren graciously offered to let us take her truck and trailer to pick him up at lunchtime. The directions were sketchy but we hoped we could find it anyway. Our big landmark was the M & R Minimart. Perhaps people more familiar with Tradesville (which has no actual town) might know what the M & R Minimart is, but with not only no store sign - but not even the first beer or cigarette sign; let's say it was difficult to identify. We did however find the dirt road and the driveway. Nobody was at the barn when we entered this scene which could have been 50 years ago. Cute old red barn with 2 stalls and hayloft full of junk and random cages; 1 stall with 5 curious goats and 1 foundered hackney pony who was offering us big money to break him out; the barn aisle was home to more cages with breeding pairs of mini-rex rabbits preparing for their next batch of cottontails; and one last stall with my bull fully agitated, hungry and covered with flies.

We had left the truck and trailer on the washboard road for fear it wouldn't make it across the small pipe and would end up stuck in the deep ditch on either side. We saw immediately that Dwayne's idea of shaking a bucket of food and calling our precious (now possessed) bull,  was not going to work out. So we gave him (Dwayne) a panicked call for help. He was riding but agreed to get off and come help us if I could tell him where we were. I felt less stupid when he, an actual resident of Tradesville, had no idea what or where the M & R Minimart was. He would be there as fast as he could find us. I was also getting nervous about being at a stranger's barn with no male chaperone (I always think I can handle it - this time I envisioned a possible crime. I accepted this farmer might pick me off, but the younger faster girls could sprint out to the main highway for help if need be).

As we slid the phone closed, a golf cart approached with a cross between Hulk Hogan and Santa driving - it was our farmer Joel. He looked none too amused at the entourage of girls we brought in various stages of undress (one older one had already changed into her bikini and saw no need to change before we left). He mumbled something I didn't catch and motioned for me to bring the trailer to the barn. Apparently he hasn't been around too many women trailer drivers because he rolled his eyes before I prepared to back into the hole at the end of his barn. I was determined to show him and I stepped on the gas and put that trailer perfectly into that doorway in one try.

When I got out he had positioned the other girls in the large hole next to the trailer and given the instructions "no matter what, don't let him through, make a human wall". Perhaps it was all the sundry cages or Clyde's poor mood, but I didn't have much faith he would just look at us and see a sturdy wall. Maybe Joel was psychic or maybe he could see another rodeo coming on, but he looked around and started handing us every pointy stick he could find. Broken brooms and rakes were our new defense and I flashed back to the scene in Braveheart where the farmers bore homemade spears and were massacred by the other more prepared army - our bull was well armed with his pointy horns, our broken broom handles were no match for him if he took a notion to leave. Before I could utter a sound 'Santa' had cracked to stall door and Clyde charged out to do his battle. A well placed sunbeam must have rendered him blind for a moment because he took one look at us and our pointy sticks and turned around to do battle with Joel! Joel backed off and again mumbled some unintelligible something. He re-approached Clyde and sent him hard toward us, we stood our ground and he jumped into the trailer.

We stood there amazed at how intimidating we must have been, when a huge crash came from the trailer. Clyde was angry and had rammed his head under Lauren's partition sending the heavy thing flying. Poor Lauren had had enough and she was sure he was coming through the side of her new trailer. In all the chaos my phone rang, it was Dwayne, he had made it to Beauford Crossroads and needed more directions. We told him 'we had it under control', maybe an overstatement. We were worried he would tear up the partition now directly under his cloven feet. Joel cracked the door and Clyde's angry grimace met him. Joel lifted his torture rod and Clyde retreated so we could pull out the heavy partition uninjured. Now we had to face how much this fiasco was to cost - getting Clyde out of Bull Jail - Joel stopped and scratched his head "forty bucks seem fair? I did have to go all the way to Lancaster to pick him up, and you know fuel prices..." I told him it was fine. I had only $50 in my pocket and the truck was now below the red line, so we tossed him a couple 20's and took off with the partition stuck in the back of the truck.

We made it safely back to Beauford Crossroads with their sportsbar and gaspump, we were feeling well satisfied about our trip. When we arrived home there were great cheers from all the campers. We drove the truck out into the pasture to turn Clyde loose. But first we fetched a gate to block the huge hole we had found in the fence (Tommy had said 'oh yes that's where Sizzy tried to commit suicide by hanging her legs all through the fence, I cut her out'. Perhaps he could have told me before I put my expensive stock in there the first time!). Once blocked, the girls opened the trailer and Clyde burst from the confinement. Bonnie looked up as if she had seen a ghost and let out a soft moo. Clyde threw back his crooked horns and let out a moo to rattle the windows. They both took off running toward each other and I could almost hear Lionel Richie singing some sappy song as they reunited. It was unbelievable, they we letting out soft moos and scratching each other all over with their horns. Dwayne called to see if we had made it home safely and I could almost hear his voice crack as I described the scene (he is more usually cowboy than romantic). Successful was our trip.