Sam Elmore


Papa and all six of my brothers had considerable talent for coming out the winner in a "horse-trade". I'm not saying they were less than above-board.....just that they put serious effort into making sure they came out on the "long end" of every stick. That's how my oldest brother, Bertan, got his 24-volt bull.

He left his house in Homer, Louisiana, one morning, driving an empty pick-up truck, and headed for Magnolia, Arkansas; where most of our kin is clustered. When he left my place, his truck wasn't empty any more. I don't know how he did it, but when he drove off, he had my brand-new, still-in-the-box, Ruger Single-Six .22 pistol. All I got out of it was a couple cups of coffee, and a good visit with my big brother. (Come to think of it, it was my coffee we drank).

Bert made his way from one relative to the next, with a few unsuspecting non-relatives thrown in for good measure. When he got back to his place in Louisiana that evening, he backed his truck up to the pasture gate and unloaded a Santa Gertrudis bull yearling. Then he went in the house and ran a cleaning rag over "my" .22 Ruger and put it in his shell-sack.

Bert realized that the existing pasture wasn't big enough to graze the bull, so he went to the store and bought the necessary posts, wire, insulators, and a voltage regulator to build an electric fence, enclosing more grazing area.

He installed the voltage-regulator in his tool shed and, apparently based on the size of the bull, set it for 24 volts. Then he cut a gap in the old pasture's net-wire fence, and laid it back. Before long, the yearling found his way to the new opening and ventured through the gap to the lush, ungrazed pasture.

The bull walked the new fence-line without stopping. Bert was watching, anticipating that the bull might tear down the electric fence when it "zapped" him the first time. He needn't have worried. When the bull put his nose to that electric wire, he bellowed and ran backwards forty feet before he could get turned around. It was a few days before the bull ventured anywhere near the fence, but finally, he became accustomed to it.

A few weeks later, a friend of Bert's came by, and they leaned on the fence chatting and looking at the yearling bull.

"I have a cow coming into estrus right now," the man said, "what'll you charge me to breed her to your new bull?"

" I don't think that bull's old enough yet," Bert answered, "he ain't but a little over a year old."

"Well, I'd like to breed her to 'im, if you'll tell me how much," the man persisted.

"Well, if you're that set on it, bring your cow and turn her loose in the pasture. I don't think it'll do ye' no good, but I won't charge you anything."

"Aw-right, then....I sure can't argue about the price."

The next day, the man came down the road leading a Jersey cow. He opened the gate, removed the halter rope, and loosed her in the pasture. For a half-hour, the cow followed the bull around the inside of the fence. He apparently wanted nothing to do with her. Around and around the fence line they went, in single file; the bull leading and the cow following. Bert and his friend got them some coffee and sat down on the back porch to watch.

"Well-I'll-be-dogged!", the cow's owner exclaimed, "will you look at that!"

"That's somethin', all right", Bert agreed.

The animals came around the fence-line again; but this time, the cow was leading and the bull following, exhibiting the natural signs of a mature bull in a similar situation.

Then, at the back side of the pasture, the bull attempted to mate with the cow. At that moment, the bull swung around too close and backed into the electric fence! That 24-volt electrical jolt, transmitted through the bull, hit the cow. She took off bellowing and running and didn't slow down when she hit the net-wire fence at the front pasture. Several posts and yards of net-wire were flattened, but the cow only increased her speed as she galloped down the road.

The bull whirled the other way and took off through the electric fence, tearing down wire, posts, and insulators for twenty-five yards on either side. The last Bert saw of his bull was when it hit the tree-line at the back of the pasture.

After a couple of years, when the bull was of mature breeding age, Bert allowed several people to bring their cows to the bull for breeding. Each time they turned a cow in estrus into the pasture, the bull broke down the back fence and hit the woods. The scent of the cow was apparently associated in the bull's mind with 24-volts of electricity. He never was worth a plugged nickel as breeding stock, so Bert finally took him to the slaughterhouse.

The bull dressed out at four hundred and fifty-seven pounds of prime, fine-looking, beef. But, Bert observed ruefully, whenever he grilled a hamburger, it had sort of a "coppery taste"....the after-effects of an electrical shock.