Respectabull Critters

Perhaps it’s not fair to feel dislike for an animal.  I’m not talking about an aversion to a whole species, as in a “I dislike spiders because when I see a spider my pupils dilate into black saucers, my heart palpitates and blood is shunted away from my digestive organs and directed toward my muscles and limbs so that I may flee the fiend of many legs” sort of dislike.  I’m talking about disliking a particular animal because it displays characteristics that I would find disagreeable in a human being.  After all, the animal can neither know what I dislike about it nor do anything about it.  But that’s what I felt toward a bull named Herman.

Herman was a short-legged Hereford/Black Limo cross.  If I had to compare his personality with a human being’s, Tom Hollander’s portrayal of Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice (2005) would come pretty close.  He pushed his weight around the pasture, but the cows didn’t seem to respect him.  He fancied himself quite a stud, but he wasn’t too popular around the water trough.   My mother-in-law said that if we expected Herman to breed with anything, we’d have to provide him with a stepping stool.

My disdain for Herman was solidified one sunny spring morning.  I was walking by the pasture on my way from the back field to the house.  In a far corner, Herman was busy seducing a beautiful Holstein by stalking her with shrill mooing noises.  From across the meadow came a calling “moooo”.  Herman stopped in his tracks and swung his curly head toward the sound.  It was his mother.  I stopped to see what he would do.  His amorous ambition quite forgotten, he scampered over the meadow to his mother.  He put his muzzle to her udder and began to nurse like a baby calf.  I turned away and continued to the house, thoroughly disgusted with Herman.


Popeye, so named for his slim torso and huge front quarters, was Herman’s polar opposite.  If Herman was Mr. Collins, then Popeye was Mr. Darcy (after Lizzy Bennet brought him down a peg or two).  He was a Beefalo (half cow, half buffalo).  He was shiny black and he weighed in at about twenty-two hundred pounds.  If any bull had a right to assert his authority over the herd, it was Popeye.  And he did, but so quietly and peacefully that unless he was severely goaded, there was nothing to fear from him.  When other bulls challenged him, he absent-mindedly tossed his great head to shake them off like so many annoying flies.  He even let us take hold of his horns and shake them, something pretty extraordinary for any bull to allow.  Popeye had nothing to prove.

A fuzzy picture of our gentle giant. 

Unfortunately, he was worth even less to us as a breeding bull than Herman, because the poor cows’ knees buckled and they crumpled like paper dolls under his colossal weight.  Maybe someday we’ll start a herd of Beefalo.  None of them will be named Herman.


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