He called to say he’d be an hour late. A tiny inconvenience, but unavoidable. He’d had to drive to Eau Clare earlier in the day. Fortunately, the breeze was gentle. I didn’t mind standing in the bright sunshine.
When he arrived, he pulled the long trailer up close to the milking parlor and disappeared inside the barn. Five minutes. Not a sound. Ten minutes. Birds sang over the alfalfa field. Fifteen minutes and nothing coming from the barn. What was going on?
I paced, but made sure I stayed away from the barn windows. I didn’t want him to spot me and, perhaps, turn back. Tracy – the truck driver – quickly walked out of the barn, grabbed something out of his truck and marched back into the barn. Now what?
It was still – again.
Then I heard it, the clumping of heavy hooves on metal as Full Throttle, my pure-bred BueLingo bull, reluctantly climbed into the cattle trailer. I’d hired Tracy to haul my bull a few miles down the road. Full Throttle, like all my herd, is a 100% grass-fed bovine raised sustainably and kept close to home so that he remains calm and healthy. He gets no growth hormones and no sub-therapeutic antibiotics. He enjoys sunshine and fresh air every day of the year.
Today was moving day. Time to transfer him from my friend Norm’s farm, where I had boarded him over the winter, to my friend Josh’s farm, where he’d “keep company” with a small herd of Jersey diary cows for a couple of months.
“He just didn’t want to leave the barn,” said Norm. “He’d just close his eyes and turn his back on us.” I took this as evidence of the good treatment he’d enjoyed in Norm’s experienced hands. Thirty years a dairy farmer, Norm now raised a small herd of beef cattle. My bull stayed with the other bachelors – a strategy needed to make sure yearling heifers weren’t bred too young or out of season.
With Full Throttle safe in the roomy trailer, we set off for our three-mile trip. A few minutes later, we pulled into Josh’s Turnip Rock Farm, a sustainable CSA vegetable farm, and a growing organic dairy and cheese operation. It appeared his herd had gotten the memo: the doe-eyed Jersey cows lined the fence, and there was no need to coax my two-year old bull from the trailer. He eagerly stepped into the throng of welcoming ladies. Elvis was in the room.
After the initial introductions, Full Throttle walked further into the field and continued to get acquainted with the half-dozen gentle cows. At one point, he stopped and looked back at me as if to say “Why didn’t you just tell me?”
Bull Brook Keep is a small-family, cow-calf farm committed to sustainable and humane livestock breeding and production. Full Throttle will be back on my farm in mid-July to reacquaint himself with his home-based herd.
Sylvia Burgos Toftness
Bull Brook Keep