Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Great Bull Debacle

 It was the morning of Christmas Eve and my husband came into the house.
"There's something interesting going on next door."
"What?" I asked. We usually don't have too much excitement around here.
"A bull got its head stuck in the feed panel."
I searched my brain for an image of a feed panel and was coming up short. "What's a feed panel?"
"Go see, the bull's down in the meadow."
So I bundled up the kids, grabbed my camera, and we walked along the fence line. On the far side of the neighbors' meadow, I could see the bull. And now I understood what the feed panel was.

I wondered how in the world they were going to get the feed panel off the bull. Or the bull out of the feed panel. Or however they would be separated.
 As it so happened, the neighbors were out of town for the holidays. So the guy that was watching their cattle called some friends, and then they called our ranch for some extra help. This wasn't the kind of problem that comes up every day. Or every week. Or every month. Or every year. Or probably even every ten years. This was a weird kind of problem. And it needed some extra heads to figure out how to free the bull.

 My brother-in-law Dave, who has a tremendous amount of experience with cattle, rounded up some tranquilizer. He had a bit of a dilemma deciding how much to give, as he knew the dosage for a cow, which weighs less than a bull, and had to estimate how much extra to give to the bigger bull. To make matters more confusing, the tranquilizer had been left in a vehicle overnight and had frozen, so its efficacy was unknown. He used his best judgment and drove up to the bull and darted it (you'll see the dart in the photo below. And speaking of photos, yes, there are a lot of photos in this post. And there are at least three times as many that I didn't post. You can thank me later.)

 See the dart in the left hip? After the bull had been darted, we (and I use that we very loosely, as I didn't really do anything except take photos, but I sort of felt like I was in on the whole thing as I witnessed it) had to wait for the tranquilizer to take effect. The bull looked a little pitiful with the big green metal accessory.

I was standing far enough away that I didn't know what the plan was. I was waiting and watching and trying to keep my kids from getting tetanus from all the old machinery and junk with exposed nails and sharp edges that they were playing on.

 I was a little surprised when the backhoe showed up, driven by my brother-in-law Tom. I couldn't figure out how a backhoe was going to be used in this situation.

 The bull was feeling a little calmer and had laid down in the meadow. Tom circled around and approached him from behind.

 The bull struggled to its feet as the backhoe came up next to it.
 It looked like Tom was going to scoop up the bull!
 Then it became apparent from my distant view point what was going on--Tom was lining up the bucket of the backhoe with the feed panel.

 Maybe he could push the feed panel off!
 A good shove, and nope, the bull was still stuck. On to Plan B. (Which might have been Plan A for all I know, but since I'm telling the story, I'll tell it how I want to.)
 Tom got out and lined up the panel with the backhoe. He didn't seem all that nervous being around a 1500+ pound tranquilized, trapped animal.
 He used the chain to attach the panel to the backhoe bucket.
 It looked secure to me.
 But then he had to get even closer to the bull to get more of the panel secured. I was nervous for him!
 Finally it was all secured and he gestured to the others to come up and help.
 They pulled Dave's truck right up next to the bull. The plan was to use a sawzall powered off Dave's truck with an inverter to cut through the feed panel. (I found this out after the fact, as I really couldn't hear anything they were saying.)
They got it all hooked up, but the inverter couldn't keep the power going consistently.
 The bull didn't appreciate all the extra noise and managed to bend the feed panel and get out of position. Dave pulled out his lasso rope and got into position.
 He lassoed the bull.
 Then he secured the rope on the back of the backhoe to help keep the bull in place.

I didn't have a great viewing angle, so I wandered down a bit farther, where I could see better.
 It was impressive how much the bull had bent the panel.

So what next?
The bull was still stuck, the feed panel was bent in half, the sawzall wasn't working.
It didn't look good.

Fortunately for everyone, there was a Plan C.
 Tom approached the bull again. (Like how the bull is kicking? Aack!)
  I couldn't quite see what he was doing except when I took a photo at full zoom and then played it back and zoomed even closer. He had out a hacksaw and was cutting right above the bull's neck.
 Then it was time to pull the bar up.
 Pull, pull, pull!
 And it worked! The bull was free.
And all ended well.

So now if you ever find a bull stuck in a feed panel, you know what to do.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is precisely why I love your blog! Where else could one read a story like this?

The Incredible Woody said...

What an exciting Christmas Eve!!

B Free said...

Wow! What a show! BFree

Anonymous said...

I loved how you kept at the story. It is a good one, and it does have a happy ending. That farmer as good friends. What beautiful country you have there!

Love said...

Excellent blogging you have done.
I've liked this a lot. Please keep
continuing your creation.Click

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