There’s a period of time, maybe about two hours before the sun goes down completely, when it’s
cooler less hot outside and suddenly the cabin is unbearable. Also there’s still enough light to get things done. In that interlude I get ambitious about yard chores. I bustle around topping off the chickens’ water, swapping people water from big jugs to little ones, and – last night, anyway – washing Jeep windows.
And all the time I was doing that I was watching the Lair’s very close horizon because I heard bulls. Like, it sounded like dozens of bulls. And they were making that sound, a sort of basso profundo grunt, which tells the world they’re not only large, heavy, stupid and unpleasant, like usual, but that on this occasion they’re feeling large, heavy, stupid, unpleasant and horny. Like tomcats, horny bulls are potentially violent bulls. Unlike tomcats, they seem to consider it something they’re prepared to share. With other bulls, that is, not with hermits.
TMI, you say? It was about to get worse.
Knowing we were going into our traditional June heatwave I had stashed a half-case of decent beer in Ian’s fridge. So I hooked up Little Bear’s new walkie lead and we used the last of the light to climb the ridge and cross the little flat to his place.
Once we were on higher ground I could see across the wash to Landlady’s big meadow, and there was a peaceful and pastoral scene: Looked like just about all the cattle in this area had gotten together for a communal bed-down, all the cows scattered around getting in a last graze, a dozen or twenty calves at least gamboling around in the center enjoying the relatively cool gathering twilight. Quite pleasant, really, but…
Closer, in the sage and juniper brush near the far bank of the wash, there was a different scene entirely. Y’know, I never paid any attention to the mating habits of cattle but I always imagined there would be a dominant bull driving off all the smaller bulls into furtive and discreet infringements of the alpha bull’s prerogatives. Judging from what I was looking at down there, not so much. Kinda looked more … orgy-like.
Which was their business entirely, it’s not for me to judge or anything except they showed signs of heading in our direction. And that would be bad. That would be very bad for hermits and dogs caught outside in that.
LB agreed with that last judgment. LB had lost all interest in an evening walky. Whatever your business is, Uncle Joel, get it done and let’s get gone. This was an unfamiliar attitude I was getting from LB, in the presence of cattle. LB was feeling less like a predator at the moment and more like a greasy spot on the sand.
I was close to Ian’s cave and his refrigerator, so I did the conventional, predictable thing that people do in a civilized world, which gets them killed in the boonies: I continued on and snagged a cold beer. This felt stupid even as I did it, and all I’ll say in my defense is that sometimes the sound of a holster becoming unsnapped is really quite a nice sound, because…
…in the brief time LB and I were indoors the movement of large partying chunks of beef in our direction stopped being potential and became yeah, they’re coming here…
And LB decided this was really the wrong place to be, to the point where he rather resented being literally tied to a one-legged old man. After all he didn’t have to outrun the bulls, he only had to outrun me. And this whole situation constituted an aggression against his right to feel safe and he wanted his SAFE SPACE! He almost literally dragged my limping ass down the slippery slope to the Lair’s yard, and he wanted inside right frickin’ now.
I agreed in principle, but it wasn’t as though the cattle were crossing the wash for the single purpose of stomping on us and they didn’t seem in a big hurry. If I believed a dog could have a sense of justice and maybe karma coming round to be a bitch, I’d almost think LB was feeling a pang of conscience. 🙂