Bull and Feminine Vapors

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

It would have been in about 1947 when this incident occurred. My Dad and Mom told me about it when it was finally funny. My guess is it wasn’t funny at all, for Mom at least, at the time it happened. My folks were living in a little house several miles from the headquarters of the Swan Ranch. There was a little milk cow trap, a tiny barn, a windmill and this little one room house, which by today’s standards would have been a shack. But, it’s where they moved into when they got married, so it was a pretty happy little home for the young couple with less than two years of marriage behind them. Mom was a very neat housekeeper. On this particular morning, after she had the breakfast dishes done, she decided that the floor needed scrubbed. The sun was streaming in through the screen door as she scrubbed away. She was down on her knees scrubbing, when she got a weird feeling of being watched. She raised up and peered around at the windows, then looked over her shoulder at the door. Her heart nearly stopped. There, standing on the stoop, looking in through a flimsy screen door, was a big, high horned Brahman bull.

Now, my Mom was gutsy and could milk any cow that thought she was rank, but, this bull was a different story. His reputation was not good around the country as he was on the prod all the time. He had scared the daylights out of everyone on the place except Mom, so it was her turn apparently. The bull belonged to my Grandad. He bought and sold cattle all the time and had bought this bull in the south. He used him to sire some calves to be used as roping calves, as he contracted them to area rodeos and ropings. However, the bull didn’t stay in the home pasture at all and could jump any fence in the country. Nearly everyone’s milk cow for 15 miles had a Brahman calf after he’d been there a while and my dad and uncle had had to go get him many times and bring him home. They were fed up with him, but it didn’t seem to bother Grandad any.


My Mom was not only isolated in her little house, but she was also very pregnant with my oldest brother. There was a little crawl space above the ceiling in the house and it was accessed by a ladder that was fastened to the wall. She decided that that ladder was her only hope if the bull came through the screen. She stood up slowly and made her way over to it and then climbed to the top and held on. The opening above her was too small for her belly to fit. She thought the bull would go away if she didn’t move, so she held perfectly still, barely breathing. The bull, however, found this little woman hanging on a wall absolutely fascinating. He stood there watching her, chewed his cud a little, and stood some more. Time crept by slowly. Mom knew Dad would be home for dinner but it would be quite a while. Her arms got tired and achey, and then, worst of all, the biggest problem became that she had to go to the outhouse, as pregnant ladies so frequently do. But, she dare not get down and use the pot and the bull remained steadfastly with his nose fairly touching the flimsy screen.

Mom was about to have to do the unthinkable and just go where she was when she saw the bull look off and then heard Dad ride into the place. He quickly moved the bull off at a lope and then was nearly bowled over when his tiny little mad wife flew out the door and ran to the outhouse. He couldn’t understand why she was mad at him over it all, but that was put off to feminine vapors. However, that was the day that my Grandad decided he’d better get rid of that bull after Dad had returned him to headquarters and told him what had happened. My Dad might have had a little feminine vapors left on him when he did.

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

About Jan Swan Wood

Jan was raised on a ranch in far western South Dakota. She grew up horseback working all descriptions of cattle, plus sheep and horses. After leaving home she pursued a post-graduate study of cowboying and dayworking in Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota....

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