In the 1990’s beef farming was still alive and well on the Lawson
homestead. I was in my twenties and running the place.(I like to tell myself that). One spring instead of buying a bull I decided to rent a big charolais from a livestock dealer. It was cheaper and in the beef business you got to cut every corner you can.
I had two pastures for my cattle, one where my house is now and the other where my parents Alan and Wendy are living. When the grass got short on one, we would switch the animals to the other by running them down the road. The cows were all used to the move, but it was a big shock to the rented bull, who refused to leave the pasture. In hindsight I’ll bet he wished he’d left when he had the chance.
No matter what we tried he wouldn’t exit the field. We tried coaxing him, yelling at him, herding him, but it was no use. Frustrated, we all made mistakes that day. Mine was letting Gramp in the field with his car. Dad’s mistake was getting in the car with him.
Angry that the animal was getting the best of us, Gramp’s patience flew out the window like a day old newspaper. He took after the bull with his car, intent on showing it the highway.(Apparently he didn’t learn anything from mixing it up with Dad’s buffalo a few years earlier, which is a good yarn itself.) The bull sprinted to get out of his way, but unfortuneatly it zigged when it should’ve zagged and wound up on the hood of the car! (Yes that’s correct!)
The impact smashed in Gramp’s fender and hood. I looked on in horror as I saw my rent payment turning into a purchase as fast as you could say “medium ground beef”. Judging by the amount of manure that the bull left on the hood, I’d say he was just as scared as me. Then Gramp slammed on the brakes, the bull squirted off of the car and headed for higher ground, unhurt but clearly put out by the whole experience.
“Pull over!” My father yelled angrily.
“What for?” Gramp wondered. “He’s getting away!”
“So I can get the he## out of here before you kill me!”
I can still see Dad tramping across the field, swearing and shaking his head as he went. Gramp was angry too, not because his car was smashed, but because the animal had escaped. The bull found refuge by the pond where the ground was too steep and uneven for a car.
In the end we brought a cow back to him in a cattle trailer and he was more than happy to get on board and leave. The rest of the summer he had no problem moving from pasture to pasture. And I’m pretty sure no matter where he went after leaving our place, that the sight of a little old man in a brown car must’ve made him cringe…