Monday, April 15, 2024
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A Bull Named Pron

We were over at John Seal’s one day looking to buy some of those big Holstein heifers from Wisconsin that he would go up there and get about twice a year. We were trying to grow our outfit and our heifer production, in our mind, was going too slow. We had bought heifers from John before and it turned out to be one of the smarter moves that we had made. On this day we were looking and trying to pick out what we believed to be the best ones in the pen. In a couple of pens over we could see a really nice looking Holstein bull and naturally we had to take a closer look. We were not disappointed. He was fine.

And then came the next question, “John is he for sale?”

“Yes, but I’m going to be honest with y’all. He’s pretty rough.”

“What do you want for him?”

And so began an episode that we still are amazed that we survived.

Pron was bad. There is no other way to describe this big Holstein bull.

Most of the cows on our dairy operation were bred using artificial insemination, but some cows just will not settle so there is a need for a good bull. And with time being at a premium, as it always is on a dairy farm, we would breed our heifers naturally. It was so much easier to just turn the bull into the heifer pasture and let him do his job without any help from us.

Now with Pron this was where things could, and did on more than one occasion, completely get out of hand. He would be very cooperative going in the pasture but taking him out later proved to be a near life threatening experience. Logic and experience would tell us to drive the heifers and Pron into a pen and separate the heifers from Pron and turn them back to the pasture. Well after replacing gates a couple of times and getting run over in the storm that followed, we realized this would not work. So one day in desperation I decided to rope Pron and tie him to the bumper of the pickup and take him by force to the pen. The only person who could have possibility benefited from this little event was the body and fender man in town. The tailgate never was the same and there was a caved in door and right fender to attest to the fact that this was not the best solution to this problem.

The next idea we tried did in fact work, but it was about as dangerous as fishing with dynamite. This next attempt was created out of pure frustration. By this time it made perfect sense to us if we could keep the heifers and Pron separated it would be possible to move the heifers. So the plan that we came up with was simple. Donnie and I would drive the heifers, and Betty would drive the pickup, keeping the truck between Pron and the heifers until we had driven the heifers into a pen. Then we could move Pron.

I do not have the words to describe what happened in the next half hour or so. After a few minutes It became impossible to decide who was chasing who. The only way that this worked was the fact that the heifers were trying their hardest to escape the chaos and finally saw an open gate and went for it. When the gate was finally closed on those heifers it would have been hard to determine who was more relieved, the heifers or us. Donnie and I were splattered with manure and both at one time or another had been knocked down. But I believe that Betty was in the worse shape of all. With the job of keeping Pron from getting with the heifers and trying not to run over her husband or son, she was a nervous wreck. Two decisions were made then that made life a lot easier for us. Pron would not be turned out again, and as soon as possible he would belong to someone else.

By now anyone who reads this will have thoughts and ideas about how this all should and could have been done. But we did what we did and got away with it. The next people who owned Pron were not so lucky.

Our vet had several dairies that he took care of. One belonged to the Stegall brothers up in Lincoln county Mississippi. One Sunday they showed up before milking time and wanted to look at the bad bull. It seems that Dr. McAdams had told them all about Pron. After looking at him they decided that they had to have him. Now understand Pron was fine, he was the picture of how a Holstein bull should look. The problem was you could not see into that crazy head. We tried to convince them that he was more trouble than he was worth and that this was not a good idea and we were planning to take him to the killer. Then they made us a deal that we could not refuse. They would trade us even – Pron for a bull that they had paid a lot of money for but they just did not like his calves. We were so anxious to be rid of this old crazy bull we quickly agreed to trade and even agreed to deliver him and pick up the other bull.

One morning during the next week after morning milking, we loaded Pron and went to Mississippi. We knew we were getting the best part of this deal. The bull that we brought home was well bred and more importantly to us, well mannered.

A few weeks later Dr. McAdams was at our place checking some cows and we asked, “How are the Stegall boys making out with old Pron?”

He looked at us with a surprised and puzzled look on his face and answered, “Y’all haven’t heard?”

“Heard what?”

Well then Dr. McAdams commenced to tell the whole sad story.

These old boys had taken an old flat milking barn and took all of the stanchions out and put in a set of working pens with squeeze chute and all. The details were kind of muddled but the gist of what happened was that they drove Pron in that barn and in the ensuing battle one of the Stegall boys ended up with a broken arm and busted ribs and Pron went out of one of those double doors that had been left opened. On the way out he went by one of their pickups parked close to the barn and mostly wrecked one side of that truck.

It is my understanding that to put Pron in a pen to load for the trip to the killer took dogs, horses and a 410 shotgun. Now I will not attempt to tell this part of this sad tale because it would all be hearsay, but Pron did make the trip to the killer.

Now we have had to deal with bad bulls before Pron and after but I do not recall having to deal with one any tougher.

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Don Ashford
Don Ashford
My name is Don Ashford and my wife is Betty and we live in Ethel, LA. It would be impossible for me to write a bio about myself without including Betty in it. We have been together since high school. I was in the senior class of 1955 and she was in the class of 1957. Do the math. We have raised cattle since 1959 except for a little time that I spent with Uncle Sam. We have grazed stockers, owned several cow- calf herds and custom grazed cattle for other folks. I worked as a pipefitter for more than 25 years. Until we went into the dairy business in 1977 we were as most people down here part-timers or week-end ranchers. Later after we had learned enough about MIG to talk about it so that it would be understood by others we put together a pasture-walk group to introduce it to our friends and neighbors. We belong to more farm groups then we probably should but we get great joy working with other people. What makes us most proud are our son and daughter, our 5 grandkids and our 7 great-grand kids. It has been a hell of a trip so far, but we are not done yet.

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