Country Living Series

Sunday, December 2, 2012

That's a lotta bull

Ever since building our barn summer before last, we've had all kinds of grandiose plans to add on to it. Someday we plan to build three bays out front, a greenhouse on the south side, neat stuff like that. Someday.

For the last few months, whenever he's had time, Don's worked on the first of these major additions: an awning and feed boxes on the east side (farthest from the prevailing winds). Adjacent to that he wanted to build a bull pen and loafing shed.

When we butchered our bull Gimli last year, we held off getting another bull until we had a dedicated place to put him. Dexter bulls are quite good-natured as bulls go, but the trouble is they're single-minded when it comes to breeding. No fence -- well, no fence that we had -- could keep them in. We don't like indiscriminate breeding because we don't like calves being born in the dead of winter.

So we butchered Gimli and held off getting another bull until we could build a bull pen, a place where we could keep Mr. Hormones until his hormones were required. This also meant we skipped a year of breeding. No new babies last year!

We had already found a bull -- a family that lives about half an hour away had a two-year-old Dexter bull they wanted to sell. We paid for him in the fall but couldn't take possession of him until we had a proper place to put him. The sellers kindly offered to hang on to him until the bull pen was ready.

All summer and fall, as he found a few spare moments, Don worked on a stout bull pen. And this week he made a final push and got the pen completed, along with a shed to protect the bull from the weather.

Three strands of hot wire gave a little extra encouragement for bully-boy to stay where he's supposed to.

A loafing shed. Don added gravel since water tends to pool in one corner, and I padded it with straw.

Saturday was a day of screaming wind and intermittent sunshine mixed with rain. The sellers arrived during a sunny moment.

Here's our new boy, looking a bit nervous. Two years old, and dun in color. Very handsome.

He walked into the pen easily.

We wanted to pay the sellers a little extra since they've been holding onto this guy for several months, but they preferred to trade a few tankards instead. Worked for us!

The girls greet the new arrival.

Our herd heard the noise and came galloping over to see what was up. "Hey! Who's that?"

The bull immediately launched into the obligatory bull-display all bulls do when meeting new girls. He bellowed...




...and pooped (no photo, sorry).

I mean, this guy's a real sex pot, ain't he?

Despite this display of machismo, the herd shrugged and went about their business after about an hour or so.

"Wait! Come back! I'm not done showing off yet!"

But he settled down after awhile.

The reason we got this bull is because he is totally unrelated to any of the ladies in our herd. When we bought little Atlas last year (he's now a year old), he thought about keeping him for a herd sire. But the trouble is, Atlas is Gimli's son, and therefore related to too many of our girls. (Atlas now has a future date with the freezer.) Whereas this new bull is a proven sire AND totally unrelated. He should last as a herd sire for many years.

We named him Samson.


  1. Congratulations Don on a job well done. You've built a good-sized pen for Samson and hopefully, this and the shed will keep him happy enough despite being away from the ladies. Jenny

  2. How did Don get the electricity over to the bull pen for the electrical wires? Did he run it himself, was it underground or from a poll or something else? I assume he had to step it down, did he get some sorta of box to do that? Also how much "power" or "watts" did he put on those lines? Are the electrical wire dangerous to humans at all? Is the bull testing those lines?

    1. The wires are only dangerous if a person pees on them.

    2. We had a bull that was claustrophobic once and busted out of everything we put him in. Dad had a friend with the highway department so we bought some old guard rails and replaced the boards with them. Bull never got out again.

  3. With his thick, curly fur and especially his eyes, your new bull looks like he's part buffalo! Could that be? Nice job on the pen, Don! --Fred in AZ

  4. Oh my Patrice, he is gorgeous. Not to mention halter broke, that is huge! Kudos to Don, lovely pen and a shelter,and trees to rub on, sweet.

  5. What a wonderful addition. Ya'll done a great job. Can't wait for the babies to appear!
    Kelly in K'ville, NC

  6. Just curious, was the meat from the bull you butchered tougher than what you would normally get from a younger steer? I was always told that the reason we eat steers and not bulls is because the meat is better.
    Kris in WI

    1. Nope, it was pretty good meat! Bulls are more muscular than steers, so some people prefer them (meat-wise) to castrated animals. We do ask the butchers to hang the meat a couple of extra days, just to make sure it's fully tender.

      Steers are much sweeter in terms of disposition, which is why so many get castrated at a young age. If you're going to have a meat-on-the-hoof animal hanging around, better to have sweet-tempered steers as opposed to bad-tempered bulls.

      - Patrice