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Bull Tales


In the early days of the The Land, a Portuguese cattle rancher we knew as Tiny ran a small herd of (I'm guessing here) mebbe 30 head of beef cattle including Drano the Bull. [That was approximately the number of adult cattle, but after the cows dropped their calves the herd grew to something closer to 70. M.E.] For the most part, the cattle kept to themselves but from time to time interesting things happened.

This is a place for those stories. If there are enough, we'll make it a list like Beginnings.

Fran's Red Jacket

My best bull story was that one cold day I was out walking toward the
cookshack wearing my very red down jacket and was chased by a red bull.

He was a youngish looking bull with a lovely rust colored coat of fur
and as he started slowly running toward me, I panicked and took off
running as fast as I could. He only ran faster after me. I thought he
was running at me because I was wearing bright red! So I took off my
jacket while I was running and wadded it up and hid it under my arms.
When I reached the open area in front of the cookshack, I slid down the
hill into that steep gully that leads to the place we used to dig out
clay from. Also known as the "fault". Anyway, that allowed me to
escape as I disappeared under trees and the bull didn't seem to know
there was another way to get down there by a more gradual trail.

Later, when I next saw Tiny, the Portuguese cow hand, I told him about
it and he laughed and said that young bull was actually friendly to
humans and just wanted to play. The bull had been abandoned at birth
by his mother and humans had to hand bottle feed him so his bonding
imprint was with humans. I admit I never did go up to him when I saw
him grazing later to check that one out...

photo by Neil

Jody's Bull Tales

Once I was walking in the way back of the Backlands on a sunny late afternoon, and came out of some trees, to see a huge bull just uphill from me. He was snortin' at me and pawing, and charging! I was barefoot and I shot off downhill doing 90, then abruptly cut to my right into & through a line of trees and then flew back up the hill and away, losing him somehow. My heart didn't stop thudding for a long long time.

Another time I rode a horse up to the Ridge at sunset. I was trying riding bareback for the first time. No Cathy, not me the horse. The horse kept running then slamming on the brakes and ducking its head and throwing me for a loop. After 3 times, I finally worked it out and we rode on into the dusk in the high hills. Crested a slope and came across a scene out of some surrealistic Spanish film. There were 3 bulls in the very last ebbing light of the day and long dark sheets of gray behind the hills. One bull was on the ground, beaten. The other two were facing off and charged into each other like slow motion locomotives, and hit with a dull deep boom. The sky darkened and then they faced off again, both with a big attitudes; and they slammed into each other again. I swear they shook the ground. I watched spellbound until night closed in, and reluctantly left the bullfights to slowly pick my way down to the Frontlands pasture in the electric dark

Drano In The Swamp


My favorite and last one happened one morning, starting when I heard loud voices. I went out and found out a bull was stuck in the swamp. I remember Rain and I from the Front joined up with Donnalee and Kim maybe? Don't remember exactly who, (does anybody else remember this, or am I making this up?) but we got some rope and ended up wading into the swamp up to the bull who was up to his shoulders, and helpless. We worked and pulled and pushed for an hour, and finally we got him to shore, all of us exhausted and dripping. The bull walked away a few steps, then stopped. He slowly looked around at us, and said....thanks, and then wearily walked away.
And that ain't bo'shit...


I think I have to claim the Bull in the Swamp
story as My Story. I've been telling it for 30 years
and it's never changed. I remember it like it happened
yesterday. I'm not sure exactly who was there besides
me, Jude, Juanita, Kim, Adam, Dohnalee and Jody.

My Version:

I was in the Big House having morning coffee with Jude
when Juanita burst in and told us that Drano was
drowning in the swamp. We ran down and sure enough, he
was treading water, panting and gasping and his
eyeballs were blood red. He must have wandered out in
the full moon for a drink and gone too far - he had
been struggling for hours, no doubt.

I plunged in and waded out. It was a defining moment
for me because I felt no fear even though his head was
the size of a 50 pound watermelon and the snorts he
gave out could have blown the hat off the Backlands
scarecrow. (Did the scarecrow even have a hat - now
that, I can't remember!) and I felt his legs thickly
entwined with reeds. The reeds were wrapping around my
ankles by then. Kim ran and grabbed the water hose
from the back garden to use as a rope. Jody dared the
swamp and brought the hose out to me and I wound it
around his front legs a couple of times and everyone
heave-ho d. It worked like a charm and we had him out
in no time flat!

Yes, after shaking the water off like a dog, he turned
his drooping head to look at us for a long moment in
thanks and ambled off exhausted.....we figured he
weighed a good 2000 pounds. The next week, Tiny
Mendosa gave me a six pac of Mickey's Big Mouth and
said "Thanks for saving my bull!"

Juanita, Kevin

Yes, i watched, but my friend Kevin was in there with you!

Mark - LSD-25

The red bull had a tag in his ear with the number 25 on it, so he
was affectionately known by some of us as LSD-25. He used to come
hang out at the tower from time to time making me a bit nervous even
though I knew the bottle-feeding story.

I watched Billy Wheatley take on Drano one day in his truck (Billy's
in his truck, that is). Drano was snorting and stamping and Billy
was revving and roaring. Then Boom! Drano charges. Afterward, he
appeared unhurt, but Billy's truck had a broken headlight.

Leslies Story
I was hiking down Black Mountain Ridge with a group from Easy Mountain ( Struggle) when we saw Draino pawing the ground at the top of the hill. In a few seconds he thundered down the hill then chased and cornered us into a creek bed. Somehow George managed to save us by diverting his attention.

Michael Emrys and the Bulls

One night during the spring of '73 I decided to sleep out on the meadow. The rains had finally stopped (remember the rain that winter and spring?) and it was fairly warm. The only place with flat ground within easy walking distance of my starting point was on the path to Fran's teepee, so I tossed my sleeping bag in the grass just off the path, climbed in and went to sleep. Somewhere around 3:00 AM, something woke me up and I looked up to see the two bulls had locked horns and were going at it about four feet from my head. This was not a situation to gladden the heart. I figured that it was only a matter of moments before one of these monsters stepped on me. What to do? Think fast! I had a box of matches, so I started striking them one at a time and tossing them at the beasts, thinking that they would be driven off by fire. They didn't seem to take any notice at all. In desperation, I began yelling and clapping my hands and that, at last, did the trick. They broke it up and ran off across the meadow. Whew!

Later that year, sometime after the hot weather settled in, I was spending a few nights at the far edge of the Land. Somebody had put up a platform back beyond Purusha's Meadow, and I was sleeping on that. Well, one night I was back there and one of the bulls was up on the side of the Ridge, maybe somewhere near the crest, and was calling out. He would send out these long, lowing bellows, and the neat thing is that they would echo down the canyon for several seconds after he stopped. It was like a long, lovely note played on the string of a cello. It was actually very beautiful, and I never heard anything like that before or since.