Mister's Great Adventure

Once upon a time, farm-wife Katie said "We can have cattle, but I NEVER want us to have a bull. Ever."

Famous last words, right?

Kevin and I purchased three Belted Galloway heifers about a month ago that were to be bred when we picked them up. However, about a week before we got them their owner very apologetically had to tell us his bull had become impotent. Therefore, we purchased open (unbred) heifers.

One of our main goals is to become self-sustaining, meaning that we are able to supply our own animals right here on the farm instead of having to purchase steers elsewhere every year to feed out to fill orders. So, since our heifers weren't bred, we needed to come up with another method of getting them bred ASAP so that we can have a calf crop next spring and make progress toward that goal.

Our first option we pursued was to AI (artificially inseminate) the heifers, but after a little research, we realized it's a pretty costly endeavor since all the semen has to be kept in liquid nitrogen to keep it frozen at the appropriate temperatures to maintain potency.

About a week ago I saw a posting for a Beltie bull someone was selling. I told Kevin we could potentially buy him, let him breed our girls, and then butcher him in December. Well, that particular bull didn't work out because the owner knew nothing about his background and couldn't even tell us his age, so we didn't feel comfortable with that scenario.

[Enter] Cindy and Larry to the rescue! On Craigslist, Kevin found people who were selling several Beltie bulls about 2 hours from us. He contacted them, and the rest is history. They raise Belties and primarily their business is in raising tame Beltie bulls. After seeing pictures, we decided (Kevin kind of had to drag me along on this part) to purchase one. We set it up to go buy after church on Sunday.

Sunday morning came and we needed to separate the heifers before church. We had 4 to breed (3 that were supposed to be bred and we're going to try to breed another who is a twin which supposedly makes her infertile - but she's so pretty we're going to try) and we have 4 feeder heifers, so we don't want them bred since they're getting butchered. Our best attempts that morning were not met with success. So much so that we never made it to church because it was about 10:30 before we got in from the field, sweaty, smelly, and far from ready for church services.

I decided to let Kevin go alone to pick the bull because the creatures terrify me. He came home with "Mister," a bull who comes from Cindy and Larry. Kevin was thoroughly impressed with the temperament of all the bulls he saw. They're worked with, loved on, and touched daily by this family and his former owners get so attached to them that they teared up when Kevin left with Mister. 1 point for Mister - he's used to people and likes to have interaction with them.

1 point for Mister - he calmly lumbered off the trailer when Kevin got him home.
1 point for Mister - he shyly offered his head for scratching when Kevin took water into his pen for him Sunday evening.

Monday morning - Kevin left to go do some morning feeding while I finished a couple house chores. He was gone a long time and I tried calling him, sure that my worst fears (a bull gone crazy) must've come true. I eventually found his phone on the dryer...okay, so maybe he hadn't been mauled by Mister haha.

About 11:15 or so Kevin came into the house panting and said "we have a serious problem. Mister is gone."

I was confused and said "what do you mean, gone??"

"Gone gone. I can't find him. He's gone."

This prompted a flurry of events that lasted about 3 hours. I ran to Kevin's parents' to let his mom know, we called his dad at work to give him a heads-up, calls were made to the insurance to find out about farm liability, and then we split to find him. My job was to drive up and down the ridge and let people know that he was out but tame and that if they saw him to call us.

The neighbors were somewhat amused, as most of them have owned cattle at some point or another. They were all very amicable and agreed to call if they saw him. One even said "oh, okay, I'll just grab a bucket of feed and put him in there with the steers until you can come get him!"

Barb was tracking Mister in our third pasture. Kevin was searching for him in the second pasture (where there's a pond, lots of shade, and HELLO - 8 heifers [I assumed he'd head straight for the ladies, but I was wrong...]).

As I finished talking to people on the ridge, Barb was tracking Mister through the woods and Kevin had joined her. I figured they were headed away from the ridge, so I started down our lane letting people know.

(Sidenote: we utilize our neighbor's farm and Kevin had already told Alfie what was going on before he even came in to tell me.)

I got to our one neighbor's house, got out, and said "Kevin bought a bull yesterday..." - "I know! I saw him!" was Chuck's immediate response.

I'm pretty sure my jaw fell open at this point. "What? You saw him??"

"Yeah, he was standing by Alfie's machine shed looking over the fence at the goats."

"A black and white bull??? When?!" - I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

"2, maybe 3 hours ago, right guys?" All of the guys at Chuck's agreed. I thanked them and *promptly* hit the road. We were going in the opposite direction! I just hoped that Mister hadn't crossed Fork Ridge!

I excitedly called Kevin to tell him what Chuck said. He said they were going to leave the woods and meet me by the barn to regroup. Since I was in our car, I beat them to the barnyard, where I pulled in, saw that the loafer gate was open, and then I saw....


Yep - he looked at me as if to say, "what took you people so long?"

I called Kevin again and was told to hurry up and shut the gate! I told him I was too scared, but then I bolstered the courage to do it. I shouldn't have been worried. Mister never moved other than to turn his head and look at me lazily.

As soon as the gate was secure I called Kevin's dad, who was stuck at work during this whole fiasco. He said "it's sure hard to be stuck in here when I know there's stuff going on outside!"

Kevin and Barb arrived moments later on the Ranger both wearing huge smiles of relief.

Turns out - Mister has always had access to a large loafer barn (very similar to Alfie's) with hay and water and that's where he and his buddies spend their afternoons when it's hot. Well, when he kicked over his water sometime Sunday night/early yesterday morning, Mister must've decided he'd just wander around exploring until he found some. He didn't find water, but he found what he believes to be "home."

We all figure that Alfie probably walked right past him when he fed two buck goats also in the loafer, but since it's pretty dark in there, he just didn't see Mister.

As soon as Kevin went in to check on Mister, he drank 4 gallons of water in one slurp, and then hung his head for Kevin to run the hose on him (which he apparently loves). He didn't seem any worse for the wear and is perfectly content now that he's in his barn.

Alfie says he's like a big puppy dog, and so far, that's proving to be right. Mister loves for Kevin to scratch his head and neck and to hose him off. He never moves at a pace faster than what could be considered "moseying." I'm still very wary of him and probably will be for a long time to come, but I guess if we have to have a bull, this is a good kind to have.

After all the excitement I returned to our neighbors to let them know the search was over. Boy did I feel silly telling everyone that he'd been in the barn all morning. Ha! Oh well. It's a lesson well learned - consider an animal's upbringing when you bring them home.

It ended well (MUCH better than it could have) and we were praising God the rest of the day for His protection and provision.

So, that's Mister's great adventure. Well, I guess it was more OUR adventure since he was just hanging out in the barn all day while we were in chaos around him. But we'll call it his adventure.

To quote Kevin's dad, George, it was "just another day in paradise."