Norman, The Bull

It was a cold, rainy Wednesday morning when I found the cow dead. My husband had died five months earlier. This cow had been ours. Her calving was to have been a forward step in my life. I went home, trying to get past this loss and continue my healing process.

Friday morning, after a restless night, I called my sister, Judy, and told her about a dream that haunted me all night: a dream of a brown, white-faced calf,  looking at me with big, brown eyes, lying next to a tree.  She said she would go with me to the pasture.  It didn’t take long after we entered the woods — there he was — the calf in my dreams looking at me with those big brown eyes. He stayed where his mom left him through two cold, rainy days, and nights.

Getting him to stand was easy, but he wouldn’t walk. We remembered a method a Red Cross instructor showed us years earlier.  By placing one hand on our own elbow and the free hand on the other person’s elbow, we created a chair to carry him. He couldn’t sit on the chair — he would ride in the middle. We scooped him up and started toward the pick-up. This must have been quite a sight, two gray-haired (slightly out of shape) older women, walking sideways, supporting a calf between them, his long legs dangling as we picked our way through the bushes to the truck. I’m not sure what birds and squirrels sound like when they laugh, but I think we heard it that day.

Driving our newest family member to the house, we talked about naming him. Names such as Miracle or King came to mind — but Judy had another idea.

“Norman, like the orphan calf in the movie City Slickers — you know, Billy Crystal!” she exclaimed.

So, that’s the name this tough little guy answered to…Norman.

We made a cozy, dry home for Norman in the cow trailer by adding tarpaulins and hay for bedding. My grandson, Jacob, and his brother, Cody, came to visit. Laughter and squeals could be heard as they joined the calf in a game of tag, afterward the boys gave him his big bottle of milk.

Secure in the trailer, Norman grew. The day came when we turned him loose in the pasture with the other cows. He was scared of the cows and chose to ignore them. He thought he was one of the humans—always available to help with chores, go on adventures in the woods, and play chase with Jacob.

Although given salt, he started licking the wheel-wells of our pick-ups. He got his head stuck and couldn’t get it out. He stood quietly, chewing his cud, swishing his tail, waiting to be rescued. By turning his head to one side, we were able to free him. When his head got too big to simply pull out — we resorted to jacking the truck high enough to drop the wheel in order to give room to remove him. Little horns grew making him unable to get in the tight place anymore. We were proud of that.

Finally, Norman made friends with the other cows; but still came by to check on his human family. Being his usual nosy self, he figured out how to take the gates off the hinges in the yard fence. His mission of moving chairs and other things in the yard wasn’t appreciated. We would holler, “Norman, get out of the yard!” He then sauntered away and we fixed everything again — and threw some things away that he broke.

In the spring of his second year, he was becoming quite a big fellow.  Of course, he didn’t know his own strength. The cute stuff he did as a calf could be dangerous to us now. We discussed selling Norman, but chances were he would go to a meat-packer. This is when I announced I would write a book about Norman — so he had to be alive when we were asked about him. Norman is saved again. Now, I’ve got to get busy, I don’t know the first thing about writing a book.

Judy and I went to a free computer class at the Jacksonville Public Library and learned the basics. Then I found the East Texas Writers’ Guild (ETWG) which turned out to be a lovely group of writers who encourage each other’s success. Looking back, I never guessed finding a calf in the woods would lead to finding new friends and a new stage in my life.

Even though Norman wasn’t going to be hamburger meat, the day finally came when he pushed his head against the feed bucket I was holding, causing me to be fearful of falling. Dumping some of the feed on the ground didn’t stop him—he kept pushing me backward. This was going to be a problem. A phone call to my nephew seemed to provide a good solution. He owned a few head of cattle and was a lot younger and more agile than myself.

This arrangement lasted a few months, but Norman was still intrigued with the human neighbors. He managed to get out of the fence and tried to help a neighbor unload her groceries…she didn’t want his help.

This created a new adventure. Norman went to his third home: the Cowboy Church of Ellis County. This seems to be a great life for him. He has friends –- both two and four legged kind, and lives with other horses and bulls and takes life easy. About once a week, they are loaded into a big trailer with signs on the side that say “Riding for Christ Rodeo Ministry.”  I’ve been told they don’t rush Norman. They let him walk the ramp at his own pace.

They go to the Church and hold a rodeo. Young people and grown-ups ride Norman as he does what they call “crow-hop” around the arena. Sometimes the youngsters pet him through the fence — he is somewhat of a mascot. The more skilled participants ride the other bulls and horses which actually buck. There is a break during the riding. At this time, everyone gathers in the arena to hold a short Church service.

This bull started me on a new path. With the encouragement of family, the members of ETWG, and the Writing Warriors critique group that kept me motivated, my first novel will be published. “Can’t Build A Fence” will be released by Dancing With Bear Publishing in March of 2014.

I returned the good deed by saving his life — and not selling him. Now, he and his animal friends entertain young people and give them something to look forward to. There may be a chance of impacting a young life with just the right word said at the rodeo Church meeting.  You might say Norman is “crow-hopping” for Christ — and that’s no bull. 

Norman has found a great home.

 

 

Norman and friends

7 Responses to Norman, The Bull

  1. Wow, this is absolutely grand. I just love it. I’m going to forward the link to Marie. She likes cool websites.

  2. Kay says:

    Linda,

    I knew the first day I met you that you were awesome. Thanks for the written story of Norman. From our conversations, I feel as if I know Norman.

    K

  3. Kay says:

    You so make me look bad, Linda. Your site is wonderful! I’m so proud of you.

    K

  4. Vicki Covrig says:

    Love how you added pictures to your story

  5. Alan LaRue says:

    Wonderful story!

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