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Mar 15

Moving feisty bulls – green exercise

Strangely enough, standing near bulls of this size and with this attitude was not my idea of fun.

Strangely enough, standing near bulls of this size and with this attitude is not my idea of fun.

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.”

After I've pinned down the fence, the bulls - which are keen to get onto fresh grass - step over the wire - while I rapidly step aside

After I’ve pinned down the fence, the bulls – which are keen to get onto fresh grass – step over the wire – while I rapidly step aside

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.

 

About the author

Rae Roadley

Rae is a journalist, freelance writer and writing tutor. Soon after returning to her hometown to work for Northland's daily newspaper, she met beef and sheep farmer Rex Roadley. He lived in a historic home at Batley on the Kaipara Harbour and after moving there, Rae reported on farming then wrote a newspaper column, The Country Side. Her wryly amusing tales of country life earned many followers and led her to learn more about the local people, past and present. She tells the story of her new life in 'Love at the End of the Road: Finding my heart in the country'.

2 comments

  1. Kiwiskan

    Reminds me of a time when a Jersey bull (admittedly only about 18 months old) was tearing uphill towards me, taking out fences on the way. ‘Cut him off!’ Rod yelled from the road. I figured attack had to be the best method of defense and ran straight at the bull. Thank heaven it worked!

    1. Rae Roadley

      Exactly! And if it doesn’t, stepping sideways at last possible moment worked for me on the one occasion it really needed to. Big relief! Don’t want to have to try it again.

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