The Bull On the Highway

Who knew this little guy would grow up to be such a trouble maker?

Who knew this little guy would grow up to be such a trouble maker?

On this day (several years ago), which ended with a bull on the highway, I started my morning around 2:30 a.m. on the east coast to catch a flight out of a small airport after a professional conference. The journey included one cancelled flight and making it home three hours later than I was originally scheduled. The kids were too small to leave home alone and hubby was waiting anxiously for me so that he could leave and take our herd bull up to display at a grassfed beef conference. After my long day and his several days of “Mr. Mom”, we were both fairly stressed and very tired.

One tiny detail, which becomes important later; he decided not to use our rickety old stock trailer and instead rented one from a local dealer.

8 pm-I arrive home and meet hubby on the driveway as he peels out to take the bull up to the conference. 

9 pm-Panicked phone call. He arrived at the conference site only to find the sliding door at the back of the trailer open. And. No. Bull. Inside. At this point, all we knew is that there was a 2000 lb black Angus bull wandering around a busy (by rural Nebraska standards) US Highway in the dark somewhere between home and the conference site (a 40-ish mile stretch).  My greatest fear was some driver hitting the bull and getting hurt, or worse.

9:05 After convincing hubby to take some deep breaths, I had him begin backtracking his path. He had a brief conversation with one of the employees who undoubtedly wondered about the crazy guy who backed up to the chute, unloaded nothing, and then took off again with gravel flying.

9:10 I called the county sheriff to alert them to the situation and gave our phone number in case anyone reported an unaccompanied bull on the highway. I then proceeded to pull confused children out of their beds and herded them toward the car to begin looking in the southern part of the search area.

9:15 The city police receive a phone call from a driver who saw a bull grazing in the grassy area next to the gas station. They call the sale barn (conference site) to see if they are missing a critter. The guys at the sale barn remember the crazy guy from earlier and recall a partial license plate number. Based on that, the conference organizers figure out who it must be. They call the house, just as I was heading out the door, and ask for hubby’s cell number.

9:20-Relieved, I call hubby and send him back (he was several miles out of the city searching the highway at this point). I put kids back to bed and sink into chair, grateful that my bleary-eyed self (who had been awake for 19 hours) did not have to search. At that point, I do not think I could have spotted the bull unless I ran into him.

9:30-Hubby makes it back to the city and meets up with conference organizers, who are on site with the bull and police.  The nervous police officers keep their hands near their guns. Fortunately, the conference organizers had been told about the good-natured bull and his love of treats and everyone stays calm. Bull was happily munching away at hay they brought him. Next to this grassy knoll was a stop light. What appears to have happened is that the trailer had a loose latch and the sliding door slowly vibrated open during the journey. When hubby stopped at the red light, the bull unloaded himself.

9:40-Bull was still happily munching hay and quite unconvinced about the necessity to get back in the trailer. Throwing his hay in the trailer did not work either. New plan: the city police call in the highway patrol and together they shut down the highway and walked the bull a quarter mile down the road to the barn.

10:00-Bull was happily munching hay in a pen. Everyone shares a good laugh, except hubby who is still too hyper to laugh yet.

Two days later – when hubby goes back to bring the bull home, he wires the loose latch of the rented trailer door to avoid any unexpected unloading. We have not rented that trailer since.

While at the conference, I thought he had the perfect marketing angle…”This bull is so special he needs a police escort.” Hubby did finally crack a smile.

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About jheem

I grew up on a diversified dairy farm in southeast South Dakota where I learned how to throw a hay bale, pull a calf, deal with death, and "name" the cows. I was in 4H and FFA, and was privileged to serve as a state FFA officer. In college, I studied animal science, focusing on beef cows, mostly because I figured they were less work than dairy cows....I ended up with a Masters Degree in ruminant nutrition and went to work for the University of Nebraska, first as a research tech coordinating data collection for a swine unit and beef feedlot on a research farm and then as an extension educator. In my current job, I focus on environmental issues related to animal agriculture (which is a nice way of saying I talk about manure alot). My husband and I live and work on a seedstock cattle operation in northeast Nebraska. You can learn more about our cattle operation by visiting my husband's blog at http://aldersonangus.wordpress.com.
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5 Responses to The Bull On the Highway

  1. Thank you! This helps me relax and absorb something I keep hearing, but find hard to believe. It’s not just us. It just… happens! If it’s not one thing… it’s something else. And it’s just… gonna happen! LOL

  2. Jo Ann says:

    Funny story, Jill. My husband and I only have chickens so far, but plan to get a couple of goats and a donkey which we hope will guard our livestock. We have coyotes, bears, foxes and a bunch of other predators that would like nothing more than do dine on our chickens! Thanks for the follow. 🙂 We have lots in common, so I’m following your blog, too.

  3. Pingback: $@!% Farm Moms Say | Fence Post Diaries

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