My fitness programme – moving cattle every other day – is apparently ‘green exercise’, not because grass is involved but because it serves a purpose. However, like other fitness programmes, I soon didn’t want to do this one either.
After turning off the power, I’d pin down the electric fence in the technosystem and step aside so the cattle – six mobs of 17 – could step into fresh pasture. Being a few feet from the leaders posed no problem – until they grew and grew and grew.
Bulls put on about a kilogram a day, therefore I was moving an extra 700 kilograms or so of bull each week – an extra three tonne a month. Plus bulls get stroppy in summer and kick up their heels.
One day I turned around to find a bull was right behind me. The next day, a bull ran at me.
Hoping the farmer might move it (perhaps to the far end of the farm), I pointed him out. “Him?” scoffed Rex. “He looks like someone’s pet.”
The next day, another bull took a prancing charge at me. I yelled. It stopped. It pranced. I yelled. It stopped. It pranced. I yelled – the same expletive each time followed by the word “off”.
Then I heard the farmer call, “I’m here. I’ll save you.” He was running towards me, his arms outstretched. Sometimes he’s so silly.
“I’m not moving the bulls any more,” I declared. “I’ll build fences instead.”
Carrying about 30 electric fence standards and a reel designed by a man for use by men is the reason I was moving the cattle in the first place – it requires no muscle power.
Every day the farmer tried to coax me to return to cattle moving. Each day I’d say no before loading up and stumbling away to fumble through building the next fence.
“You need to get over your fear of bulls,” he said until finally he conceded: “You’re really not going to move the bulls, are you.”
“No,” I replied – not until May when the big boys will be replaced by weaners which will be more my size – until they grow.