Angry Ferdinand

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs

Ferdinand wasn't too friendly!

Submitted: May 31, 2018

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Submitted: May 31, 2018



The early pioneers didn’t do us any favours when they introduced gorse to use as a hedge-cum-shelter plant! It escaped, shooting its little seeds all over the place so it quickly became an invasive pest, and expensive to control. Burning did nothing but stimulate it. I cut my forestry teeth establishing pine trees in gorse areas and the only half-decent tool in those days was a chemical called 245T. It ended up being banned because the manufacturers of the stuff couldn’t eliminate traces of dioxin, which shows the power of some lobby groups. Dioxins can be found everywhere in everyday life, from coffee filters to barbequed sausages and if you’re someone who burns plastic or polystyrene, well you’re releasing dioxin into the air we all breathe!

I prepared a brew of gorse spray and had it sitting on the back of my truck ready to squirt on the gorse over a steep bank below my top paddock. I wasn’t at all concerned about the three bulls grazing not far from the gate, they’d never given me any trouble. I used to leave my bull calves entire because bull and heifer meat realized the top price at the freezing works, which was a head-shaking mystery to me. The end use for high grade beef was for the US burger market. Prime beef going into burgers? Anyway, I used to raise them to the age of eighteen months and send them off to the works to supplement my income.

When I climbed out of my truck to open the gate, one of the bulls looked up, the others took no notice and carried on casually grazing. By the time I was back behind the wheel and had moved into the paddock, Ferdinand was standing there blocking my way! Actually, I never named any of my animals, I merely referred to them by their colour, but Ferdinand is a good name for this bull! Ferdinand decided that he didn’t want my truck to in his paddock! His head was down and he was snorting angrily. I was conscious of the open gate behind me and didn’t want my cattle out on the road, so I needed to move forward but Ferdinand was having nothing of it. He didn’t charge, he just stepped forward and rattled his horns in the radiator grille, which shook the whole truck! I moved forward a little but he pushed against me. I didn’t want to risk tooting the horn!

Maybe it was the sound of the running motor that had upset Ferdinand, so I switched it off and sat in the cab watching what he might do. For a while he kept rattling the radiator grille, which made me bounce up and down like a bunny’s tail, but I felt secure tightly holding the steering wheel. The novelty of it wore off for him, and eventually he walked off to re-join his grazing mates. I waited until they had moved away before I cranked my truck, closed the gate and started spraying gorse. I wasn’t sure what Ferdinand might think about my spraying and the spray pump, so I kept a wary eye on him.  He was ok for a while, and then he lifted his head, aimed at me and came running! Not charging, just a fast trot. Even when he was still a way off, I could hear the rumble in his chest! I was hoping the gorse-gun might save me, so as he came at me, I gave him a face-full of gorse spray, but it didn’t stop him!

The jet from the gorse-gun was quite powerful, but Ferdinand took no notice! Discretion being the better part of stupidity, it was time for me to vacate the scene! I didn’t have time to switch off the gun, or the sprayer motor, I just threw the gorse-gun down, and made a dash for the fence. The hotwire-topped fence was about thirty yards away and I didn’t know how far behind me he was because I didn’t look, but his thumping hooves told me I’d better hurry. I haven’t a clue how I came to be on the safe side of the fence, I’ve never been a hurdler or a vaulter, but I made it without getting a shock! Meanwhile, he patrolled the fence giving me the evil eye and shaking his head. I could see my sprayer, it was gaily wasting chemical because I had left the gun on and the pump running, but I wasn’t going back right then to switch it off! No thank you!

Any wonder I was a bit nervous when it came time to load Ferdinand and his mates onto a stock truck to transport them to the freezing works. I didn’t dare ask anyone to help muster them in case he attacked them! Health and safety, y’know. I erected a temporary electrified alleyway leading to my cattle yards and roped Hooks into sitting on the roof of a shed that stood beside the yards, he was armed with his .303 rifle. I told him if Ferdinand should as much as take one step my direction, he should shoot the bugger! Hooks usually took ages to fire off a shot, always wanting the best angle, aiming at the eye because a head shot didn’t waste any meat! I told him no to muck about and aim at the chest! A bigger target. Ferdinand must have heard me because the three of them yarded without the slightest fuss! Now we had to wait for the truck to arrive.

The truck backed up to the loading ramp and when the driver spotted Hooks with the rifle, I told him we had a wild one! He said he’d handle him once he was loaded, but he was damn sure he wasn’t getting in the yard with three stroppy bulls! With Hooks at the ready, I climbed into the yards armed with a three foot length of alkathene water pipe. The bulls weren’t keen on walking up the race, so I skirted to the side keeping another bull between me and Ferdinand, swishing the pipe to make a whooshing noise. The near bull got the idea and walked half way up the race with Ferdinand following him. I gave the last bull a tap on the rump and he gave Ferdinand a shunt, he in turn gave the first bull a shove. The first bull wanted to sniff and check out the truck, so I paused, and then gave a cowboy call to rev them up! Once the last leg was on board, the driver slammed the door closed behind them!

A week or so later, the stock buyer from the freezing works called in. He told me that lodged in Ferdinand’s hide, were four air rifle pellets! They didn’t damage the meat, but he called to alert me that someone must have been taking pot-shots at poor old Ferdinand! No wonder he was angry!

© Copyright 2018 moa rider. All rights reserved.

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