Kambich: Bulls, balls, and bastards


1. Biochemistry. the sex hormone, C19 H28 O2, secreted by the testes, that stimulates the development of male sex organs, secondary sexual traits, and sperm.

Really, testosterone is just an excuse for two ton bulls to act like complete pricks and get away with it (not that the cows were being any more sensible than the bulls were). But, let me start with the beginning of my day, involving the lovely animals needed to keep our operation going.

My brother Carl and I started our Monday morning with our favorite thing: pipe. Everything went smoothly — well, as smoothly as pipe goes, you know. We then came home, ate breakfast, and loaded the four-wheelers. On up the river we went! We got up there and I must tell you, I really don’t like being reminded of slight mistakes my brother and I have made in the past. So, when we rolled up and there were three heifers that were supposed to be on the first bar standing by the gate instead, it kind of cut a little deep. We unloaded, and Dad showed up, so we ran down to push those heifers up.

Sadly, that was the easier part of the day. Our whole mission was to pull bulls out of the spring calvers’ area. This was no small task. We found five of the six bulls and were working on grabbing them. All I have to say is, pitting five testosterone-filled bulls against three people isn’t a thrilling endeavor. We eventually ended up bringing a couple cows back with them to make things a little easier on us. We got them to the corral, and this is where things got fun. And by fun, I mean (and this is going to shock everyone) I face planted into the dirt. But I’m jumping ahead of myself!

We were trying to sort the cows from the bulls, and this one bull was being a complete jack wagon. I was standing in the gateway, and Dad and Carl were in the alley trying to get the cows cut out from the bull. Now, in the spring there is a gopher hole in the ditch above the corral, and, with high water, the corral floods and the pieces of dirt from the gopher hole dry up in clumps. I want everybody to know that I am the least coordinated person you will ever meet — I have had multiple people offer to buy me a helmet on many an occasion. While I was standing in the gate, I moved my foot and tripped on the clumps of dirt. All I could hear was two gates slam around and, “YOU SON OF A B—-“. I thought I was a dead man crawling. I couldn’t get my hands and knees under me. Carl said I had pure fear on my face, like my life was flashing before my eyes (because it was).

Otherwise, everything else went well in the corral. Remember how I said we only found five of the six bulls? Well, we had to go looking for the sixth one. We searched high and low for this darn thing. Carl looked through the spring calvers again, while I looked through the heifers. There was no sign of him.

Carl and I met up, and I told him that we better look through the younger fall calvers. Mind you, the fall calvers are about as far from the house as you can get. We split up again; I went along the bottom where all the springs are, and Carl went across the top of the ridge. I didn’t see him or the bull, so I thought maybe he went back to the house, so that’s where I went. Nobody was there, not even Dad. I drove back up to the top of the first bar, and by pure luck, I looked up and saw a blob of a four-wheeler fighting a bull down the hill. I zoomed back across the property and met Carl at the water trough, who was 45 minutes into pushing this bull. Fast forward an hour and a half later, and we were finally back at the house. Dad was up on the ridge pushing a friend’s cows back up to the irrigated pasture (for the 600th time), with two of his bulls already in the corral. We found Dad and helped him finish up, then ate lunch.

Carl told us of his adventures of finding the bull. Apparently this bull was in the far corner, as far away from anything as he could get. He tried crossing this ditch, and the front end of his four-wheeler sunk so far in the mud that he couldn’t see it!

After lunch, we went and got the other two bulls out, which went really well, or as well as you can get with bulls. We were loading them into our brown stock trailer; in theory, you can fit six bulls in there. But, they can be buttholes and will fight a lot, so usually can only get four in. We put our bull in with one of the other bulls, and they were best friends. We ended up loading all five in the trailer together.

My entire family will tell you, bulls aren’t bad to work with out in the field, or even in a decent sized corral, but you get them into the loading chute and they are scary. The space is small, and if they start fighting you’d better be over the top of that fence faster than you can think. Dad was ready to leap the fence while loading them. Nothing happened, thank gosh, but as soon as they got into the trailer we heard a huge bellow. Dad got a pep in his step and yelled “I’m out of here guys!”

We loaded everything up and headed back down the river. Now I’m sure you are thinking my story ends there — happily ever after, all that stuff. That’s funny, way to be optimistic. Afterwards, we were sitting around, and my brother got a call from my cousin, Danny. The bulls got a little feisty and tore down the corner panel of the slew field and ended up in the oats. Good stuff, right? Carl and Danny had to fix the fence while Uncle Jack and I moved pipe. After we got done, we went down there, and they were almost done as well.

Not only is the female portion of the species a challenge, but the male portion is as well. As the saying goes, “Cows may come and cows may go, but the bull in this place goes on forever.”


Hanna Kambich is a sophomore majoring in Agricultural Business at Montana State University. She spends most of her time working on the family ranch and writes about the day-to-day activities in her blog “The Ranch Hand’s Life.”

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