Never mind the bullock

It’s not really cow country, this corner of Suffolk.  Leave the village in almost any direction and you’ll be surrounded by fields growing any number of crops: wheat, barley, oats, oilseed rape and, of course, the ubiquitous sugar beet.  There’s even a local deer farm*.  Travel a bit further and you might see rows of corrugated pig houses and their sleek, pink occupants.  But you don’t often see cows.

Which is why I was a bit perturbed when, riding my bike round a corner on the road into the next village on a quiet, sunny morning, I came face to face with a black, skittish-looking bullock, slap bang in the middle of the road.

Now, I was pretty certain that if I just kept going he’d skitter off into the field and that would be that.  However, “pretty certain” didn’t seem certain enough to me.  Even a small bullock has a lot more weight and kick behind it than I do, and I wanted to keep myself and my bike in one piece.  So I paused to take stock.  (Pun completely unintentional, until I noticed it and liked it so, sorry, it’s staying.  I have no shame.)

As we eyed each other suspiciously, the bullock and I, a car drove up behind me, slowed, and then passed me and approached the bullock.  Of course, he scarpered into the field and the car driver, the bullock and I merrily went our separate ways.

Which just goes to show that sometimes it’s worth pausing.  I wasn’t consciously waiting for backup, but I paused long enough that the situation changed in front of me and I was able to make progress after all.  If I hadn’t stopped, there was a chance that all hell would have broken loose.

Of course, there is an alternative reading of this salutory tale: perhaps I haven’t grown out of a childhood nervousness around cattle, after all!

*Lest I give the impression of living in a peaceful rural idyll, I should point out that today someone in the street has spent all day using a very loud and obnoxious piece of machinery while I bury my head and try to work.  I may have to break out the earplugs.


6 thoughts on “Never mind the bullock

  1. I’m assuming a bullock is the same as a steer – in other words, a castrated bull, aka hamburger on the hoof? We raise a few each year and they’re pretty mellow guys – although inquisitive. I wouldn’t put it past one to come up to a bicycle and give it a good sniff.

    • A bullock is indeed the same as a steer – which I hadn’t realised until you helpfully pointed it out. Yes, they’re not aggressive at all – just stronger than me even when just being nosy!

      • And they tend to drool. I commend your caution! On the other hand, just ringing your bell, yelling “GWAAAAARN!” and moving toward him would probably have had him high-tailing it.

        But … you’re British. You’d likely say, “I’m sorry, but I need you to go along now”, and then wait patiently for him to choose to comply. (Just teasing!)

      • But of course. And should he have chosen not to comply, I would then have turned around and cycled five miles out of my way to avoid disturbing his morning perambulations 😉

  2. That was an alarming moment!! Just as well you stopped, sometimes your instincts can be so right!

    I live in a city now, but grew up in the country and over the years of growing up the farmers in the area changed from dairy farms to cattle farms. Where once you had inquisitive cows staring at families on county walks it was suddenly large groups of bullocks. I remember my dad saying they were harmless and demonstrated by very lightly pretended to punch one of them on the nose (nothing aggressive, just a light tap really) and the herd soon backed away from us. I don’t blame them! My dad had grown up on farms and was used to bullocks and knew that young bulls in large herds really didn’t have the confidence of a full grown bull. He knew not to play games with an adult bull though, our dog stupidly ran up and barked at a lone bull in a field, my dad just shouted at the dog “run!” they got out of that field just in time!

    So maybe you were very lucky it was bullock. If you ever see a full grown one, I’d turn your bike round very fast! 😉

    • Ha, you’ve reminded me of a time when my family and I encountered a bull… I think I’ll save that story for another post! Thanks for visiting.

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