When I was a child I always scanned fields for any sign of a bull before climbing that five-barred gate. Even if I didn’t spot one I’d always keep an eye out and have my escape route planned. You’d only take younger children into a field if you were 100% certain that the field was bull-free.
It wasn’t the stories about gorings that scared me – it was personal experience. We used to stay with our cousins near Toomebridge and their father kept a very cross bull. Once when the bull was confined to a shed he spent an entire day roaring and crashing against the door in his desire to be out again and among his harem. The door didn’t look strong enough to hold him and I was terrified he’d break it down and kill someone. I think there was a story that he did break out once and my aunt looked out the door and saw the bull peering into the pram of one of my younger cousins left outside to take the air. My aunt raced out and snatched her baby from under the bull’s flared nostrils. Despite this early fright, or maybe because of it, my cousin grew up to be a respected breeder of
When I was about eight Daddy bought a
Once, soon after Ferdinand came, the TB man was on the yard to test the cattle. I took refuge upstairs because I was sure the bull would go mad and crash through our front door and kill us all. I reasoned there was no way he’d get up the staircase. I knew he’d want to but wouldn’t be able to get the stairs to bear his weight. I spent the whole time looking anxiously out the window and praying that Daddy wouldn’t be killed.
I was a very anxious child. I also had serious concerns about the lions breaking out of Bellevue Zoo but that’s another story.