He may have noticed them for a while now, but didn’t act as if. They’ve been in residence for about a month at least, but Thursday past as I was unloading hay from the wagon to the elevator to be stacked safely in the mow I noticed him staring – he stood there for a good 15 minutes, probably wondering what those things were. It was also the first day the pullets were out and about. He probably noticed them too. Amberlinks are escape artists and had actually gone under the fence so there was much to keep an eye on. I tend to pay attention to things large and small, call it “mom radar” if you wish – the hawk overhead, dubbed Phyllis by our granddaughter – as well as a head count of how many calves are behind the pasture fence, plus assuring pullets had not become Phyllis’ lunch…

Let me back up. Halliday is our new bull. We purchased him in late April. We were all set up to acquire a bull named Sturgis, but he turned out to be a wild-eyed boy with the disposition of a rabid Tasmanian Devil. Thus, Rick and Dan walked through the 40 or so other bulls present and their eyes landed on Halliday. He was good looking – nice lines, good color – more importantly he was calm. We like our cows and their progeny calm and a calm daddy helps attain that result. He laid down for a nap in the trailer ride to our place from Spring Valley and moseyed out of the trailer without one hoof kick or snort. The cows and calves already in residence gathered around to meet him – a sniff here, a smell there. He’s been on pasture with them ever since, hopefully doing his bull-daddy duty. Calmly.

On a farm one is always acquiring things and in April we acquired chicks who became pullets who will become laying hens. (The broilers are already in the freezer). The pullets had been kept inside, but are now old enough and big enough to enjoy the open air. We constructed a temporary enclosure, since we’ve had predation in the past (no more totally free range *sigh*) but apparently not well enough. Some gaps had to be closed since at one point a wandering bird was face to face with Ruby, one of this year’s calves. But I digress.

We’d baled up a couple hundred bales that needed to be unloaded and put upstairs in the barn. My allergies don’t permit me to breathe well up there so my job is usually unloading the bales off the wagon, placing them on the elevator and sending them up to those who can breathe well up there. Since the wagon is a couple feet above ground, it gives me a bit of a view for my watchful eye and that’s when I noticed Halliday noticing the other neighbors.

Sometime in early June we acquired pigs. Six of them. Their enclosure and hut is quite close to the pasture fence behind the barn where the cattle ramble two and fro daily. The pigs were happy and extremely active on Thursday. It was hot, but a good breeze was blowing. I’d thrown some grass and hay in for them to play with/eat so they were especially frolicksome and noisy. From my perch on the hay wagon I noticed our 1,200- or so pound bull staring at the little piggies – they are pink, often caked in dirt for coolness, a heck of a lot shorter than him, and they squeal with delight or conversation, whatever mood strikes them. It seemed to me, even though Halliday passes that way on a regular basis, that he had just noticed them for the first time. And by his demeanor was wondering what in the heck those squealing little squirts next door were! I calculated in my head that he stood as still as a bull statue to watch them for a full 15 minutes. He made no move, threatening or otherwise, just stared, whether awestruck or in disgust remains solely in his head. He wasn’t distracted until one of the three escapees went inside the fence for a pullet-calf stare down. Apparently one white Amberlink is not as interesting as six pink pigs so he meandered off to a far corner, laid down among his lady friends and chewed his cud. Did I mention he’s calm?

I do enjoy watching animal interaction – both wild and domestic – and find it sometimes amusing. The pullets survived, the adult hens paid them no heed whatsoever, Phyllis roamed away, and the piggies were allowed to go about their piggie business unscathed. I’m sure glad the guys brought home Halliday and not Sturgis or who knows what havoc might have occurred that first of July day!

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