So I was sitting at the table, minding my own business, thinking no evil, happy with life, on my first cup of coffee. It had been a long summer, but you could feel change in the air. The mornings were getting cooler. The good Lord has seen fit to give those of us on this side of eternity one more day to enjoy; to eat, drink, be merry. I planned to make the most of it. It is usually about this very time, in this very state of mind, things are about to change and not always for the better.
Away off somewhere in the distance, I heard a bull bellowing out his patented mating call. If you have ever heard this sound, you know what I mean. I probably won’t describe it properly, but I’ll try. It’s a unique sound, low and repetitious from somewhere deep down inside the depths of the bovine soul, kind of like the sound whales make underwater that span whole seas, only on the low end of the register. This growling, grunting, moaning mating call vibrates bones and quivers lung and liver like jello. Really.
I thought this odd, being as we don’t currently have a bull in stock. What we do have is a herd of cows with no man to call their own, an imbalance of nature. I wonder where the bull is that’s doing all this grunting. Well! Turns out he is right up there in amongst our herd, having displaced a fence line in the process. I sigh. It’s Uncle Herman’s bull. He’s come a courting; the bull that is, not Uncle Herman. Herman usually keeps Don Juan a pasture or two away to save the fences, but sometimes I guess things just happen. The herd goes walking by, the big bull with them. The girls seem happy, almost giddy. I’ll have to call Uncle Herman, go help him redirect Casanova, then patch the fence row and wait for the next event. I see all this play out in my mind, and mentally calculate the time and effort involved. My week of leisure time has been filled.
Judy called work later to inform me of the bull’s arrival. I told her I knew already. She asked if I had any idea where the big red bull had come from. I laughed and told her there was no red bull, it was her Uncle’s black bull. Judy replied: “You’ve gone color blind. It’s a big red bull!” Then there were a few moments of silence and I heard her gasp. “Good gracious, here comes the black one too! There are two bulls in our pasture!”
Well sure enough, we had now had two bulls. The day before, we had none. Most non-cattle type folks would think two bulls are better than one. This is not so. Two bulls are far worse than no bulls. These two took to arguing over who would take the girls out. The black bull lost. So did a stretch of fence row, half an acre of underbrush and a hay ring. The red bull blotted out the sun, huge as a battleship. It didn’t take long to whip the smaller black bull who skulked off into a far corner of the field, dented in hide and pride. Big Red came sauntering back to the herd. Our cows watched him, pretending they weren’t. He sidled up to one of them and she looked at him with big goo-goo cow eyes. He grunted another of those low pitch vibrating noises that sounded like it had come from a mile down Carlsbad Caverns. Two cows swooned and fell over. One ran off into the distance and tried to climb a tree. Love was in the air. And, in the pasture.
After about a week of visitation, the herd seemed all calm and happy, content to lay about and munch their cubes and grass. Nature had found its balance. Judy called me at work. She found the red bull’s owner. The man came over and we tried all afternoon to coax his bull into the corral. Big Red was having none of it. So we waited until the next weekend and the man returned with his wife and a horse. The wife and horse wrangled the bull right into the trailer and everybody lived happily ever after, probably the black bull more than any other. Judy and I rocked out on the porch later that day and relaxed a little, knowing the bull fights were over. Then Judy sat up and asked why there were cows in the yard. In all the excitement, someone is had left a gate open. Such is the everyday life of cowboys and cowgirls deep in the heart of East Texas, near as I can tell. And that’s no bull.
Michael Thomason is a local business owner and an award-winning columnist for the Herald-Press.