? withdrew my plastic-sleeved arm from the cow and looked back down the alley. It was empty but I could see into the big crowding pen where a large bull stood placidly. My teenage son and my neighbor's teenage daughter stood behind him trying to push him toward the chute.

I had a chill. "Get up on the fence!" I yelled, "Don't ever get down in there with a bull. You can't trust them." They grumbled and explained he was tame, you could scratch his head.

"It doesn't matter," I said, "never trust a bull."

For years, before artificial insemination replaced the bull on many family farms, the most common traumatic cause of farmers' deaths was "killed by a bull."

A bull can do whatever it wants.

Mr. Turbo had a small farm in central Indiana and a set of beef cows. In with the cows he ran a very large polled reddish bull called Red. Across the fence his neighbor had a nice set of cows as well, though they were black.

One day Red decided to visit the neighbors. He merely pushed the wire fence over. The ground was wet and the posts gave like straws in the wind. With the lure of a bucket of grain and some cajoling Red was coaxed back to his own side and the fence repaired.

A call from the neighbor the next morning reported that Red had returned to feast on the wrong side again. Mr. Turbo tried the grain bucket routine, to no avail. Whips and shouting did not work. They returned with a four wheeler and cotton rope. Red was entwined with loops and knots under the tail and around his head. The four wheeler spun on the wet ground like a toy tractor tied to a concrete highway divider.

Finally Mr. Turbo went home and came back in his Ford 150 pickup. He drove into the field and up behind Red. With the neighbor's help he placed the front bumper up against Red's massive behind. He dropped down into "L" on the automatic tranny and pushed. Red budged, then rose to his full height.

"Great," thought Mr. Turbo, "I'll just herd him back through the hole in the fence." He looked over his shoulder to get the correct direction. Then he felt his truck begin to move -- backwards.

Red had his head down and was pushing. Mr. Turbo put it back in forward and mud flew from the hind wheels as Red continued to push him backward. Something had to give! It did. The grill, hood and radiator.?

Three weeks later Red finally walked home on his own -- when he was good and ready.

Baxter Black, author, cowboy poet and former large animal veterinarian, lives in Benson, Ariz.

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