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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
Polly needed a bull, but there was only one available.

Submitted: May 06, 2017

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Submitted: May 06, 2017



If you happen to listen to ‘oldies’ radio stations you might just hear Bobby Darin singing about multiplication –

When you see a gentleman bee
Round a lady bee buzzin'
Just count to ten then count again
There's sure to be an even dozen

That's the name of the game
And each generation
They play the same

Polly’s eggs were due for fertilization and she let everyone know by bellowing and humping the heifers in the paddock with her. In Albert’s vernacular, she was ‘on bulling’, whereas the vet would politely say that she was in season. Country folk have their own terminology based on a farming methods which depend on the biological cycle of animals and plants. In Albert’s case, Polly was a house cow providing milk and cream for his family and a pound or two of butter here and there.

He always tried to put her to the bull in January, so that she would calve in the spring, September. He only dried her off for the six weeks before calving. He reared her calf on some of her milk and later sold the yearling off or if his freezer was empty, the calf became various cuts of steak. Trouble was though, this year there were no bulls around to do Polly the service.

Well there was a bull. Frank, down Glencoe Road had a bull, a prize Jersey bull. He used to show it off at agricultural and pastoral fairs around the country. The bull’s name was Duke of Wellington, or was it Sandwich? Anyway, Frank charged big money to hire the Duke and only to Jersey stud breeders, on no account would he allow his prize across a frumpy Ayrshire cross like Polly! The village folk used to grin whisper about the silly old bugger because he used boot polish on the bull’s horns and hooves and fixed flashing lights on his big, dangling testicles. The testicle bit was just a bit country banter.

Frank has pissed Henry off! His cattle had broken into a stand of poplar trees that were just starting to flourish but when Henry confronted him he just laughed and blamed Henry’s poor fencing. So with the incident was fresh in his mind, he suggested to Albert that they take Polly down to the Duke at night! Albert was giggly about it, but wasn’t too keen for a minute or so, but soon grasped the possible adventure! They planned to leave at 9:00pm just as it was getting dark. Half an hour to drive Polly down there, ten minutes for the Duke’s donation and another half hour back. A piece of cake!

Polly was always a well-behaved cow, but this night, on heat she was decidedly petulant! She had never been out of the gate before, so she didn’t want to go. It didn’t help that the heifers were mooing to attract her attention! It wasn’t pitch black but still him his hurry, Albert walked slap bang into a fencepost, which knocked him flat onto his arse to sit on a wet cowpat! Henry was too busy to laugh, at last heading the cow down the road he turned to see Albert hurrying to catch up, trotting like he had a bum-full of honey! Henry laughed at that!

Cows aren’t usually active at night so both Albert and Henry thought driving Polly would be a piece of cake. It wasn’t! She wandered into a mature stand of pines, and it was a game of cat and mouse between the trees with Polly ducking one way and Albert the other, and Henry making comforting noises for both of them. Floundering in the dark was not so funny for any of them! The pair regretted not having torches. They also regretted not having Henry’s Honda 90 motorbike!

Polly strolled into Gibby Green’s yard, which was unfortunate for Gibby. Unfortunate because he had been reading a book from the athenaeum, Tales of Unrest by Joseph Conrad and had just finished The Idiots. When Polly strolled through the yard, Gibby, answering nature’s call, sat in the outhouse, in the light of a hurricane lamp. When Polly bumped the outhouse, Gibby took fright and ran for the house! Within three steps his trousers dropped tripping him! He removed one leg from the trouser-tangle and hobbled at top speed, flashing pearly buttocks as he went. Albert in a silent laugh lost his top dentures, which set Henry off in a silent, pained-in-the-stomach sort of laugh!

Silently they herded Polly back onto the road, pausing for Albert to retrieve his teeth, the then skirting around Gibby’s yard to head her in the right direction. The Duke heard them coming and rather than bellow, which would have been awkward, he rumbled in his chest. Polly was a bit interested in his display too! Henry opened the gate, failing to be entirely quiet with the chain, which made him break out in a sweat! The Duke met Polly at the gate, and the silly bugger mounted her head on! Henry was too slow in ducking back to avoid the few droplets that landed on his cheek. Albert guarded his teeth this time!

Polly urinated and the Duke, as bulls do, took a good sniff, checking for pheromones, flehmen response, if you want vet-talk. It gave him the right idea and the right end to do his work! It was Albert’s job to check that it went in! Well cows can be tricky and their tail can get in the way, and after all, it was dark! After several tries, Polly’s back arched, which is the indication they were looking for! The Duke made her back arch a couple more times which was surely enough!

The outside light at Frank’s house illuminated! Henry looked at Albert and he looked right back! Could Frank hear the mating ritual from his house? Of course. The Duke wanted to follow Polly out the gate, so Henry grabbed the ring that was through his nose, but the powerful bull simply flung him aside! Not to be beat, Henry fetched the gate chain, and passed it through the bull’s nose-ring and hooked it to the fence! That made the bugger snort! Anyway they made their escape, and Henry stayed back long enough to free the bull and secure the gate.

Frank was waiting, arms folded in the middle of the road, his eyes not yet accustomed to the dark! Albert signalled Henry to fade back into the dark and they allowed Polly to wander up the road on her own. When Frank spotted the cow, he swore and muttered about wandering stock and irresponsible farmers. He picked up some stones and threw them at her, chasing her off up the road! A responsible farmer would have put wandering stock in his yard and waited until morning. Henry didn’t feel so bad about stealing a few drops of prize semen! The pair waited until Frank’s outside light went off before they caught up with Polly and took her home, arriving some time after midnight.

Nine months later Albert woke to find Polly had calved a nice Ayrshire-Jersey cross heifer and he smiled at the way she was conceived. Multiplication, the name of the game! And Frank? Well the Duke cornered him one day, so Frank’s wife asked Henry the put a bullet in him! Subtraction!

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