Saturday, December 2, 2023

The running of the bulls Steve-style, Part I

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In a three-part series, Steve Wyn-Harris shares his less than ideal experiences running bulls on farm.
Steve Wyn-Harris recalls how “the young bulls kindly and delicately avoided trampling me to death”.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

In honour of Steve Wyn-Harris retiring his weekly From the Ridge column after decades of wielding the pen, Farmers Weekly dips into the archives for another taste of ag New Zealand’s favourite scribe.

From May 2010

I try to avoid writing columns about my little mishaps around the farm for a number of reasons. Although I appreciate OSH in their attempts to keep us safe and sound on our farms and in our work places, I don’t really want to wave a big flag that might attract them to my own particular patch.

Secondly, if I did a piece every time I had a near miss or got into a tricky spot, you dear readers might come to believe it was a formulaic column that I dusted off every few months or so and quickly become bored.

And thirdly, if it was as often as this, you might come to believe I was incompetent, accident-prone or possibly both. Which I’m not.

I had a young vet coming to do a Faecal Egg Count Reduction Test and because this involves collecting bullshit directly from the animal (the young vet’s job; I tell him it’s beneath my dignity) it is best to run them straight off pasture.

The mob exited the lane and instead of going straight ahead down the hill to the yards as is their wont they wheeled left and ran along the fence line.

I told the dog to sit because she would have made a dog’s breakfast of heading them off, being a huntaway, and I travelled between the fence and the bulls. However, one unexpectedly strayed into my line of travel, forcing me towards the fence and resulting in the handle bars clipping a concrete post.

As is the case with these matters things happened very fast. The front wheel was thrown to the left and I departed stage right and found myself on the ground with scenes reminiscent of Pamplona.

The young bulls kindly and delicately avoided trampling me to death and determinedly carried on their way. I was pleased to feel all limbs were still in place but a little nonplussed to see that my jeans had been torn open from the crutch to the knee. Now that I thought about it, it was a bit sore in there.

I peered into the opening and was relieved to see an impressive graze from groin to knee but little blood, no cut requiring stitches and all appendages that should be present still so. Plus my cellphone in the pocket was completely unscathed. The bolt on the end of the handlebars must have got me as I departed my trusty steed.

I gathered up the bike and what dignity I could muster and ran the bulls down to the yards and waiting vet. He had a young female vet student with him so I had to cadge a bit of bandage and tape to hold my jeans together to protect her modesty.

That evening I was proudly displaying my wound and now quite impressive bruising to my nearest and dearest when Jane said: “You fool, that’s not bruising it’s just the dye out of that silly blue horse bandage you’ve been wearing.”

I felt quite deflated and showered to clean things up but brightened up considerably when it became obvious that it was indeed bruising.

The moral to this story: When you do feel somewhat battered and are looking for a modicum of sympathy it helps to have an injury worth displaying.

And don’t take a huntaway when you need a heeler.

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