Casanova – The Shy Bull
by Jacquie Rogers
In my latest book, Mail-Order Ruckus, the second book in Mail-Order Tangle (the first book, Mail-Order Promise, was written by Caroline Clemmons), Matt Johanssen buys a prize Durham bull. Several readers have asked me about him, so I decided to write a little about bulls today.
First of all, Durhams are now called Beef Shorthorns. In the 1800s, they were the dominant breed found in the Old West, although not so much now. These cattle were a result of a systematic breeding program developed by the Colling brothers in Durham County, England. At this time, Shorthorns were used equally for milk and beef. Later, Thomas Booth selected animals better suited for beef, while Thomas Bates bred for milk, and that’s when the Milking Shorthorn and Beef Shorthorn breeds came about. Because my book is set in 1881, I use “Durham,” the more common American term for the breed at the time.
In brief, Laura Dickerson (heroine), describes a quality bull:
She squeezed in between them and studied the bull. “Nice conformation—straight back, squared body, strong hindquarters. You should get some quality calves from him.”
A good bull has a short, muscular neck with a hump. He has a clean underline and his legs are square under his body, with hooves that don’t toe-in or toe-out. Quality calves come from quality dams and sires, so just any bull won’t do. You pick the best of the best.
2,000 Pounds of Muscle and Testosterone
A lot of people don’t know what bulls are all about. They’re a lot different than cows. You can herd cows or steers. Bulls—not so much. A cow will run away from you but a bull will stand his ground, and if he feels threatened, will charge. So in fight-or-flight terms, a cow is flight and a bull is fight. They’ll charge just about anything and aren’t the slightest bit intimidated by horses or a man on horseback, so cowhands keep a sharp eye on a bull's behavior to prevent injury to their horses or themselves. Or both.
Cattle Handling Tips- Moving Bulls
Just like any other animal (or human), bulls have a variety of temperaments and this is an inherited trait. Docile bulls are good as long as they also have a strong libido (after all, they do have to perform). Aggressive bulls breed aggressive calves, so the rancher has to take that into account. In a situation where cows run on open range, they need to be more aggressive to survive, so it’s not necessarily a negative. If the cattle operation is primarily on close ranchland, then a more docile bull would be more desirable.
In Mail-Order Ruckus, Casanova is both—he’s aggressive toward just about everyone except Laura. As for libido, he’s good there except he’s shy and isn’t interested in performing in front of others, whether cows or humans.
The Real Casanova
Actually, Casanova is the product of two Holstein bulls my dad had on our farm. One bull was named Pete. Pete would snort, bellow, and paw the ground whenever my dad came around and I was given warnings of dire consequences if I went anywhere near the bullpen. But Pete liked me to scratch his ears. I’d sneak out to the bullpen and visit him when Dad wasn’t around. Pete never once exhibited aggressive behavior toward me.
Then we had another Holstein bull named Goober. He was a mellow bull, but when we put him with the cows, they chased him all over the pasture. Finally, Dad had to have a birds and bees talk with him. It turned out that Goober did just fine when there was only one cow in the bullpen and he had some privacy.
I combined both bulls into Casanova, who took a liking to Laura right away, but was shy about doing the deed under observation. I included all these scenes in Mail-Order Ruckus, and I hope you enjoy them. Here’s the scene where Matt turns Casanova out with a herd of cows in heat. This is almost exactly what happened why my dad put Goober in the pasture with several heifers.
by Jacquie Rogers
Book 2 in Mail-Order Tangle
Matt herded his prize bull to the pasture where he’d earlier put the quality cows in heat. If the bull did his job, in nine months he’d have some fine heifers and they’d be the best breeding stock in the territory. The Durham bull had cost a fortune, but quality sires built quality herds, and quality herds made money.
“Have fun,” he said as he veered away. Matt didn’t drive the bull too close to the cows because a smart man never got between a bull and a cow in heat. The bull would be happy to have such pretty cows clamoring for his attention, and he’d mosey on over to the herd soon enough.
Except he never did.
One cow lifted her head and sniffed. So did another. And another. Next thing he knew, the cows barreled toward to bull at full tilt. The bull let out a snort—or maybe it was a squeak—and turned tail, running as fast as his legs would carry him back to his corral. The cows nearly trampled Matt’s horse. He spurred the gelding and galloped after the bull.
Once the bull was past the gate, he ran directly to the hay manger. Matt dismounted and closed the gate, but scrambled to the top of the corral fence when the cows thundered toward the bull, thwarted by the fence. They gathered around, mooing and carrying on.
Obviously, Matt’s prize Durham bull had a lot to learn about sex.
♥ ♥ ♥
* Also in print! *