Many years ago, when I was a young boy in Mallow, we used to go down to the Blackwater river, to a spot that was favoured for swimming, called the “Bullies”.
Looking back through time, it seems like it was every day of the summer, but I’m quite sure there were only as many good days then as there are now.
I remember a lad who used to hang around there called Tommy.
The older kids would tell us that Tommy had been massively affected by witnessing the tragic death of his father at the hands of a bull.
The history of this has always stayed with me.
Unfortunately, every so often, we hear of yet another tragic incident.
When we hear of these incidents, we rarely take it on board, because it has happened to someone that we do not know, and in a part of the country that is distant from us.
It’s different when one has a more personal experience of it.
I was TB testing a few years ago at David’s outside place.
As we drove in, I noticed the bull was in a paddock on his own.
He started scraping the ground with his front left leg, and a short time later, was rubbing his head on the ground.
We went about our work and brought in the bunch of heifers that were in a different paddock.
Having tested them, and returned them to their paddock, it came to the turn of the bull.
He was still standing at the entrance to his paddock.
The more we walked to get around him, the further he walked away.
David said he would go after him himself, as the bull was used to him.
The bull walked, and David walked, continuing to the far ditch, where eventually David should catch up with him and turn him back.
Suddenly, there was a flurry of activity and the two of them disappeared from view.
We jumped into two jeeps and rushed to the rescue.
By this time, the two of them were in a different corner of the paddock to where they had disappeared from view, and the bull was pressing down on David.
By some incredible stroke of luck, he had managed to grab the ring in the bull’s nose and held on for dear life.
When we arrived, his son, Peter, managed to distract the bull enough to allow David to get to his feet and scamper into a jeep.
Having seen his quarry escape, the bull proceeded to attack the jeep, blowing the bumper and front wing off it in the process. We backtracked and made our escape.
David got off with just a few broken ribs. The event was something that I would hope to never see again.
It took me days to come to terms with what had happened. For the last 40 years, bulls have been part and parcel of my life as a vet.
I constantly hear that this bull is quiet as a lamb, or that bull wouldn’t harm a fly. “You could go up and rub him in the field!”
To me, they are all worthy of the utmost respect. They are all only one false move away from being a killer, no matter how quiet they may seem.
We all have our moments when we are in bad form for one reason or another, when we are grumpy.
Bulls are no different in that respect, but they have a size and power that we cannot compete with if they take their temper out on us.
Paul Redmond, MVB, MRCVS, Cert DHH, Duntahane Veterinary Clinic, Fermoy