Page 21 - The Day the Men Went to Town
ISSUE : Issue 65
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1994/1/1
if I ever reach him. I open a clapper to the calves' stall. Calves these animals might be, but they are spring calves, half grown, and now they look as big as elephants. I drop the clapper and look at my watch. The men have only been gone a few hours, and it might be seven or eight o'clock before they get back. I lift the clapper again. "Talk! Talk! Talk!" I say to myself. It will keep your teeth from chattering...take a deep breath...stand stiU until you stop shaking. Now! Open the clapper, stick the fork through first...leave the handle sticking out so that it will hold the lid up a, first one leg...that's it..up and bend down and put your head in. Quick! Squeeze your body through...hold your breath...there isn't much room but the calf s as far over as he can get...he looks fright? ened...he's in shock...but watch him. Why didn't I put the button on the clapper to hold it up...too late now...MOVE...keep going...look out! The calf! He's coming out of shock...quick...grab the fork...hold it before his eyes...go on...go on..the other foot...keep looking at the calf...he's getting bolder...he's getting MAD! Hurry! Hurry! Your feet are dan- gling...what's caught? Oh, Lord! His eyes are rolling now...I can't must be my coat...take your mitts off...they're too thick, darned too much...I can't feel anything...the calf is edging nearer...Oh, God! If only this awful noise would hands will have to work...all those cows bellowing Uke cattle driven to the stockyards back home...that's got it! I'm free! Oh...the fork is stuck in a weight must have driven it's jammed...the calf is coming nearer..." I can't remember how I pulled the fork free and got through the stall. My memory didn't start working again until I found my? self in the gutter with the bull. As soon as I passed him the calf started a wild twisting tantrum, pulling at his halter and roaring. Another second and he would have killed me. Now Daisy is frisking! I should have remembered that Daisy was "due." It was she who brought the bull over. If only I had remembered I could have left the door opened, untied Daisy and driven the two of them out into the yard. They wouldn't have bothered anyone. It's too late now, I can never crawl back past that calf. Holding the fork before me I inch my way along the gutter be? hind the twisting bellowing cows. The bull tums his head and looks at me. I jab the fork straight at his ramp. He jumps and tums to face me. I jab again, this time at the neck, but in order to get a straight "jab," I have to back into Daisy's stall because of 5ie length of the fork handle. Daisy is incensed and lashes out with her hind leg. I feel pain tear through my knee...again I strike the bull. Slowly and very independently he tums and moves forward in the direction of his stall. Once he started he keeps going until he reaches the treadway at the end of the bam and without prompting tums on to the threshing floor. I follow close behind, jabbing him every now and then to keep him mov? ing. Reaching the centre of the threshing floor, he becomes aware of the space around him, or perhaps because he doesn't Richmond County's Route 4 "I took the road less travelled by ...and that has made all the difference." -Robert Frost like being pushed around, he tums suddenly and faces me. For? tunately the manure shovel stands within my reach. I grab it with my left hand and by holding it near the heavy end I find I can manage the fork in one hand and the shovel in the other. Still jabbing with the fork I raise the shovel before the buU's eyes...he moves forward...I side-step...he moves forward...I jab again...I don't want to give him time to think or brace himself for a charge. At last I have him facing in the direction of his own stall. Then without warning he lets out a wild roar that shakes the bam to its foundations. He lowers his head and begins dragging his hoof slowly across the ground. With a crack like a pistol shot he strikes his own belly. I watch him helplessly. Without thinking I drop the fork, scoop up a pile of hayseed from the floor and throw it into his eyes. Then I pick up the fork and ran across to a short ladder that leads up into the hay loft. The bull is quiet now. He shakes his head and bMnks his eyes. I puU off my coat and drive the fork through the collar again and again, pleating the cloth to prevent it from slipping off the prongs. Then I lower it and the coat, fluttering like a pirates flag in front of the bull at the entrance to his stall. For a moment he looks at the fluttering coat with indifference, then, as if he had just found his enemy, he lowers his head and charges. As I had hoped, the momentum of his charge carries him into his own stall. I drop the fork, scramble down the ladder and grasp the shafts of the hay rake that stands at the head of the thresh? ing floor. I pull the unwieldy machine across the entrance to the stall. The cows are safe! I kneel down and crawl undemeath the hayrake to re? trieve my coat. I am shivering now, and exhausted. I Ue there for a min? ute to rest, until my breathing be? comes more regu? lar. I soon find the machine over me oppressive, and besides, my nos? trils are full of 2 60IJP _' ', i8-BolePof)lte Ilimdeefiolf Coarse Dundee, located in West Bay, Cape Breton Is? land, offers guests a variety of recreation and relaxa? tion. Visit our Dining Room and enjoy wonderful cuisine or drop by our lounge and experience Cape Breton hospitality at its finest. Dundee has something for everyone. From our 18 hole professional golf course to our full service marina to spectacular scenery, Dundee is the perfect labeside resort. Dundee is a yachtman's paradise, a golfer's dream, a vacationer's delight and everything else you wouldexpectfromaworldclass reson. Whatever your pleasure. Dundee guarantees satisfaction. R.R. # 2. West Bay, Nova Scotia BOE 3K0 Tel. 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