I’m still thinking about animals and their ability to figure things out. I learned early on that even bulls can solve problems and put 2 and 2 together when they have the motivation to do so.
I was 11 or 12 and had spent the night on the farm with my great-great uncle, Will Church, and Aunt Ella. I had breakfast and was in a pen currying Prince, the pinto pony I was going to ride later. Next to the pen I was in, was the corral. I say “corral” but it was sturdy enough to stop an Army tank. The fence poles were at least as big as railroad ties and the fencing itself was 3″ pipe. There were 2 sections of pipe strung between the posts. The lower one was maybe 2 feet above ground and the upper one was maybe 5 feet high. The land naturally fell away to the east toward a spring-fed creek that was 10 or 15 yards east of the fence. You could see that on the east side of the corral the dirt had washed out as a result of many years of run-off from the rains. The distance from the ground to the lower pipe at that point may have been more like 30 “or 36”.
So, there’s this super corral and standing right in the middle of it is Griffin, Uncle Will’s prize shorthorn bull. Griffin is just standing there and staring out into the adjoining pasture. The dairy herd had been milked and turned out and they were strung out in a line across the pasture as they headed for their favorite loafing spot.
I could hardly believe what I saw next. Old Griffin sidles up to that east fence where the wash-out is the greatest. He drops down on his front knees and lowers his body to the ground. Then he starts shoving with his hind legs and wiggling and twists and grunts and kicks until, all of a sudden, he is on the other side of the fence. He slid under it! He gets to his feet and takes off at a fast walk after that bunch of fine-looking cows that are just going over the hill. A little bit of thinking and planning will get you where you want to be.
August 19, 2014