He won’t like it.
Every spring and fall the lady friend I mentioned in So Long, and Thanks for all The Valentines entry and I used to go adventuring down the Rio Grande to the wildlife refuges. We’d watch the antics of the full quota of migrating birds at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge near San Antonio, NM [ http://friendsofthebosque.org/aboutrefuge.html ] and other sites near the river. We carried our cameras and binoculars along, same as everyone else, and let where the birds were tell us where it was okay to go.
One year we were scouting the roads and farms on the east side of the river when we spotted a huge flock of cranes grazing among a dairy herd. No signs forbidding trespassing, so I followed the irrigation ditch bank to get us as near them as possible. Then we got out of the truck and began threading our way through the cows as we tried to get close enough for good pictures while the birds tried to foil the effort by moving further away.
The cattle were contained by an electric fence positioned about 18 inches off the ground. The lady and I got separate by about 40 yards, me trying to be sneaky and circle around the cranes, her a few feet away from the cattle but on the side of the fence opposite them.
“Jules! There’s something wrong with that cow.” I was focused on the cranes and didn’t pay her any mind. I didn’t care if there was something wrong with one of the cows. “Jules! That cow is SICK.”
This happened several times, me still ignoring it, her becoming increasingly shrill. Finally, frustrated, I glanced toward her. SHEEZE!
A huge Jersey bull was snorting and pawing up a dust cloud fifteen feet across that single strand of electric wire from her, telling her to “QUIT CALLING ME A COW!”
I yanked off my mackinaw. “THAT IS NOT A COW. STAND STILL! DON’T SAY ANYTHING ELSE! DON’T MOVE!” I waved the mackinaw in the air. “HYAAAAH! HAYAAAH LOOKEE HERE YOU BASTARD!”
Snort. Stomp. Paw. Dust. Now he’s turning my way and I ain’t even across the fence from him. “Hyahhhh!” Less enthusiasm.
To her: “Back away slowly. REALLY slow. Hyahhhh!” Me backing away too, still waving the mackinaw, stepping across the fence, him taking a few paces toward me. “HEAD TO THE TRUCK! Slowwwww and easy. Don’t attract his attention again.” SOB’s thinking he’ll charge me, moving my way stomping and snorting, pawing up dirt.
I got up on the ditch road thinking how I can jump into seven, eight feet of water if I need to without ruining the camera and binocs. He’s maybe 40 feet away, still coming. She’s beside the truck. “OKAY! START YELLING AND WAVING YOUR ARMS AROUND, THEN IF HE TURNS GET IN THE TRUCK!”
She did, he did, and I did. He never came past the fence.
When I was a kid a Jersey bull was universally known to be a dangerous beastie. We had to sit through films at school telling us to watch out for them. I read somewhere once that more kids on farms were killed by Jersey bulls than died any other way. She sat through the same films.
I suppose she forgot.
Or maybe I was just more tuned in because of a Jersey milk cow who used to chase me all over the barnyard, me trying to get her into the stall for milking. My step-dad always sneered at me about that, “All you have to do is grab that ring in her nose! She won’t do anything after that.”
I don’t recall I ever got close enough to grab that ring and test it out. I preferred batting her across the nose with a broken hoe handle.
When It’s Mushroom Picking Time in Minnesota http://teresaevangeline.blogspot.com/2011/09/when-its-mushroom-picking-time-in.html reminded me of this. Rather than bog down her comments with my yarns I figured I’d best post it here if I wanted to tell it.
6:15 AM Newsflash:
Last night I heard a ruckus outside the back window along with the sound of destruction. I shined a flashlight through the screen and found a feral sow and 5-6 piglets about the size of Cocker Spaniels had broken into the rooster pen and were tearing everything up, one trying to get up the chute to the night rooster fortress.
I got the .22 and picked a target, the one tearing up my chute, fired through the screen, resulting in more destruction of the pen, a squealing, flopping-all-over-the-place pig, herd stampede by the others, and one ANGRY feral sow.
She’s been out there all night snorting and grunting. My guess is that piglet’s still alive out there, injured, and she’s waiting until I come out to express her displeasure.
I’m not going outdoors until it’s light enough to see what I’m doing and she’s doing so’s we can come to some sort of permanent understanding about the issues involved.
7:30 AM aftermath
Judging from appearances she and the pigs ate the one I shot during the night. Stinks something awful all over back there. They did a lot of damage to the rooster pen, which I’ll have to shore up today while the two roosters run loose and hopefully leave The Great Speckled Bird: Respecting our Betters alone.
The Liar: The Great Speckled Bird, Part 2 might have to hang off in the background today, leaving the hens alone.
Damage from the hogs wasn’t restricted to the chicken pen. They tore off some of the siding to the storage building trying to get to the chicken feed, also, broke pieces off. More repairing and shoring up necessary there.
When I went out the sow was in a cedar thicket near the main henhouse where I could hear, but couldn’t see her. Couldn’t tell whether the pigs were in there, too, or not. I agreed not to go in after and she agreed to not come out after me.