Lionel Morton, former leader of Lancashire’s chart-topping group The Four Pennies and now living in Cornwall, continues his tales of farm life when he was a teenage ex-choirboy from Blackburn Cathedral, earning a crust in unfamiliar territory.
Middle Bull was different from the others. With long legs and short horns, he stood taller than Big Bull and was neurotic and hard to handle.
And he had a problem; his cows kept throwing ‘bulldog’ calves, born dead, fully grown with weird-looking deformed heads – hence the name – and always difficult to birth; something to do with being dead and the bulbous shape of the head.
The front legs come out first, then ropes had to be attached to the carcass and sometimes it took two of us, using a big iron bar for extra leverage, to get the thing out, to save the cow’s life.
There was talk of getting rid of Middle Bull and he must have got the message as, one day the farmer for some reason tied the rope from the bull’s nose ring to a gate and left him there. Next thing I hear the farmer shouting and cursing.
I rushed into the yard. Middle Bull had gone. He’d ripped the ring from his nose – there was blood everywhere – and made off into the fields. We couldn’t see him.
“Get a pitchfork,” yelled the farmer as he roped up a heifer to use as bait, and with knocking knees I followed the boss and the cow into the fields. We came over a ridge where the field dropped down to the canal that skirted the farm, and there he was tearing up the ground with his horns and front hooves, rearing and kicking, free for the first time in his life, blood all over his face, nose all ripped, out of control and me with a pitchfork; it might as well have been a tooth pick.
He saw us, bellowed, snorted and made for us. We hid behind the heifer which had taken his attention. He sniffed her with his bloody nose; incredible to think of mating while in so much obvious pain.
When he tried to mount the cow, the farmer moved her forward and ordered me behind the bull. I didn’t know who was madder; the farmer or the bull or was it me? On that day had this madder-than-mad bull decided to turn round I certainly would not be here today, not in one piece anyway.
Slowly this procession moved up the fields, farmer with his frightened heifer, struggling to keep the bull interested. Mad crazy threeton bull, blood dripping from his red face, eyes wild with pain trying to mount his cow and there’s little me, 15 years young, ex-cathedral choir boy, townie with a pitchfork.
I can remember to this day being terrified.
We made our way back up to the farm, frightened heifer kicking and bucking, white-faced farmer shouting obscenities, Middle Bull in a state of frenzy and sexual excitement going mad to mount this poor cow and behind, pitchfork and all, little me.
We made it to the yard and the farmer led the panicky heifer into the stone shed and by miracle the crazed bull followed her in.
“Stay there,” the farmer yelled to me. I waited at the door with my pitchfork, trembling as my guts churned.
He turned the cow round inside the shed; Middle Bull made for it and came back to the open door where I stood. As the farmer and heifer emerged he shouted: “Use your pitchfork” and as the bull came to follow the cow out I drove the pitch fork hard as I could into his neck.
It stopped him in his tracks for a split second, long enough for us to get the cow out of the way, slam the stable door shut and bolt it. He was in; I was still alive.
Then Middle Bull hit the door, bang, crash! They made stable doors strong in those days and it held just long enough for the farmer to back a tractor up against the door. Bits flew off and the tractor wobbled yet stayed put. Middle Bull was going mad inside the thankfully stone-built shed.
We could hear him ripping into the stonework when he wasn’t pounding the door, bellowing and snorting with pain and anger.
A phone call, and half an hour later the vet arrived with a bolt gun. We all stood by the door listening to the poor unfortunate beast. He must have been in agony. He came to the door and gave it another sound bashing, the vet waiting for the right moment, and through a crack in the splintered door stuck the gun to Middle Bull’s forehead and fired, a massive thud.
Middle Bull collapsed behind the door and with a long moaning groan died.
It was over. There would be no more bulldog calves born dead. I was still in one piece, the farmer had acquired another stomach ulcer, the vet got his fee and Middle Bull would soon be hanging in some butcher’s shop window: Sold to some unsuspecting customer.
Sex at the Bus Stop
Big Bull was a monster shorthorn, must have been three or four tons of solid muscle with very short legs, kept in a shippon (cow shed) with bars as thick as scaffolding poles and a gate to match, with huge bolts cemented in top and bottom.
I would put a rope through Big Bull’s nose ring, tie him up and enter his space with brush and shovel to clean him out while he snuffled in his provin bucket. He was docile enough most of the time. He never went out in the field, ever.
He would be led out to service the cows which would be tied up in the yard; he was so big cows would collapse under his weight as he mounted them. He was huge.
As the farmer controlled him with his nose ring and we struggled to keep the cow in line so to speak, it was my job to steer his long penis into the cow using a flat stick. If the cow wasn’t keen, there’d be a heck of a kerfuffle.
One time – and I remember it well – a highly-strung cow was giving us a hard time. With a rope round her neck, she was playing up and the only place we managed to get her roped to was the front gate to the farm.
Now Head o’the Marsh Farm gate was a bus stop, an official one in the middle of nowhere, a narrow country lane, and of course the inevitable happened.
Just as big bull was struggling to mount the cow – he was so heavy and with his great bulk and short legs – boy did he struggle to get up there, so there I was with my flat stick, the cow and big bull jiggling about, the farmer cursing and shouting, two to three feet of red penis hanging out and, yep…
Up pulls a double-decker bus, full of schoolkids and shoppers, and discharges the farmer’s two youngest kids, and just a few feet away there’s this mating scene like no other.
There was I, a sensitive 15-year-old, flushed bright red, half the bus load looking the other way, the rest ogle-eyed at this erotic mating scene all unfolding in front of this bus load of kids and adults. Talk about laugh… and this in the prudish mid fifties!