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Monday, December 10, 2012

El Torito: love and aggro in the cowyard (1)

It's a peculiar thing that jersey bulls are aggressive little sods, while jersey cows are generally docile. One young bull we called Victor, whose horns had barely grown to full size, laid my father out over a rail on one occasion.

   Victor did not last long. It was not my father's way that any animal, let alone a half-grown jersey bull, should question who was master at Sunny Hills.

   But well before we had Victor, we had a jersey stud bull called El Torito. That's what we named him, and a fine name it was. It also suited his personality, because he would have made a hit in the bullring. Literally. He was agile, fearless and fiery.

   In the course of a couple of years, El Torito sired many fine calves, but his prowess in that sense isn't the subject of this story. It's about his outlets for aggression. We kids were wary of him for good reason; we chose to give him a wide berth, and even Dad kept a sharp eye out for him, particularly when one of El Torito's amiable wives developed a sudden fondness for her lord – one that evolved from biological imperative.

   Actually, why not talk about his lovelife? How many townies know about Love Among the Jerseys in fields of barley [and the cowyard] when you've got one testosterone-charged stud bull and his sixty or so wives it was his duty to tend? This is racy stuff, so I put an appropriate label on it. Parental Guidance. You have been warned.

   Townies wouldn't know it, but cows fall in love. Briefly, admittedly – but I'll come to that, now I have the attention of the romantics among you. Sometimes it’s the cow that decides to hang around the bull, but usually it's when the cow is performing the erotic art of urination that the bull suspects something, especially if he happens to be downwind of the lady. It's in the air. It gets his attention.

   If she's still in the erotic act by the time he gets close enough, he does a spot ovulation test. I'm serious. Any dairy farm kid has seen this performed hundreds of times, though the whole thing puzzled us deeply when we witnessed it at a tender age. While the tap is still running as it were and puts his nose under the sample issuing forth. Then, his nostrils dripping, he moves his head back and upwards from the golden stream, and does this strange wrinkle-up-the-nose thing for a few seconds. You'd swear he was looking displeased. It's usually not the case at all.

   Something in the wrinkling-the-nose process tells him she's ready. Hot to trot as it were. In season. They fall in love instantly – don't let anyone ever tell you love at first...smell... isn't possible. There's a brief honeymoon of some two or three days (I'll spare you the Fifty Shades details) but we observed in awe as our parents looked sheepishly uncomfortable, watching us watch in the milking yards what was being enacted before those childish eyes.

   Another ovulation test with just as much nose-wrinkling after a day or two of these lustily amorous sessions presaged what may appear to be a sad story. The honeymoon was over. The lovesick bulling and mooing of the past days ceased, particularly if a whiff from another direction indicated to El Torito that love as a unit of production had to be shared around a bit.

   Neither seemed to mind about the breakup. The joys of love are fleeting, we were told by the Seekers, and there were no tears, no angry moos or stamping of hooves. Each got from the dalliance what nature said they must, and it was time to move on.

   Right. Now I'll get back to the point. I had no idea that we would be taken down this pathway to the Chapel of Bovine Love. 

   I do want to say though, that when it comes to humans, I'm glad there are other ovulation tests.



  1. On reading this post I was hurtled immediately back 50+ years into the dairy yards on the far south coast NSW (Pambula)and around Tamworth. One never ever forgets the wonderful, earthy, rich smell of the cow yard. I loved it. When, these days, I catch the edge of that smell whilst walking on country tracks, I am 6 or 8 or 14 years old again.
    Now - this comment, I'm assuming is still covered by your "Parental Guidance" warning, Denis? I hope so - otherwise, feel free to moderate this comment and delete any offending terminology.
    As kids, we were always astonished, appalled and delighted by the length of the bull's penis - or "pizzle". (From Wikipedia: "Pizzle is an old English word for penis, derived from Low German pesel or Flemish Dutch pezel, diminutive of pees, meaning 'sinew'.[1] The word is used today to signify the penis of an animal,[2] chiefly in Australia and New Zealand.[3]"

    To our young eyes, it went on forever! Not only were we not shielded by such an alarming and mysterious sight, we were allowed to say the word "pizzle" - and all the adults used that word too. You can imagine how often we lit upon opportunities to say that extraordinarily appropriate word.....and with impunity!
    As ever - thank you for calling buried memories out and into the sunlight of my mind, Denis

    1. Aagh! You comment made me remember another childhood incident, and I started writing it down before I forgot it, and when halfway through writing in answer to this piece closed the response window I was writing in, so lost it. Sheer idiocy. Still, I now have another 800 word story, so it's an ill wind....

      What I said, now much abbreviated as you do when you have to rewrite an email or anything, was that I can well understand the memories that the cow-yard smell bring back. I would probably now have a similar fond memory, but at the time it just smelt like hard work. It's not an unpleasant smell; at least a cow-yard never smelt like a pig-sty does – fetid and stinky.

      Now, regarding the qualities of a bull's pizzle, I did actually refer to one in this story, but about one long after the bull had departed this life. I can only agree with you regarding the details of a live bull's tackle that it's impressive in its way, but I wont go into details here. It would make quite a story – especially with comparisons to stallions, who have nothing much to boast about until they fall in love, when everything changes. I'll desist forthwith but I can see the spammers queuing up to hit this story already.

      All I can say is, there's nothing like a mixed dairy farm for teaching kids the mechanics of reproduction; at least, for the animals. It was, I must say, a bit unclear to me when applied to humans, and there's a tendency to miss subtleties of the D H Lawrence kind. I just thought I better get a 'love' angle in with the cows… as it were.


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