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Front Porch: This is one of those memorable stories that wasn’t funny at the time.

Tom J. Bechman, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

March 1, 2024

2 Min Read
A hereford bull in a pasture
NO BULL: What’s stronger than a wooden door? A raging bull! russwitherington1/Getty Images

An older farmer approached me after the Decatur County Soil and Water Conservation District annual meeting. Earlier, I told the audience I would soon step away as Indiana Prairie Farmer editor.

“I enjoyed your stories in Front Porch,” he said. “Did you ever catch those sheep?”

“Yes, we corralled them,” I replied.

“I chuckle at your escapades,” he continued. “I bet they weren’t funny at the time.”

The bull story

No, they weren’t funny at the time. But as wise people say, “It’s easier to laugh than cry.”

Here’s a story I’ve told before. It defines: “It wasn’t funny at the time.”

My late father kept a borrowed beef bull to breed heifers. The stocky, 1,200-pound “lover-boy” Hereford bull named Romeo needed to go home. One summer morning, Dad asked me and my brother, Dave, both college age, to help load Romeo into the 1-ton stock truck.

We set the loading chute against the barn wall, pulling the heavy wooden sliding door tight against it. The pen was only 12 feet wide and 30 feet long. Dave and I would run the bull into the pen, crowding him to the opening and up the chute. Naturally, Dad would stay outside.

Dad saw Dave and I exchanging looks. “Hey, it will work,” he said. “He is so tame, it’s hard to get him to move.”

Yeah, right, Dad.

So, armed with short, plastic pipes better suited to herding pigs, we guided the bull and a couple of heifers into the pen, and then sorted out the heifers. Let the fun begin!

Romeo wanted no part of it. You know how big a 1,200-pound bull looks in a small, dark space? He butted toward my brother, then me. We scooted away. Then, he lowered his head and headed straight for the middle of the door, picking up speed.

Kaboom! Wood flew everywhere. Remember the cartoons where Road Runner slams into a wall, leaving an outline of himself? Romeo left his outline in the busted door.

Dad yelled, his face turning red. “Boys, why didn’t you stop that bull?!”

My brother and I looked at each other and laughed. Dad just stood there. I don’t remember how we finally got Romeo loaded. But I will never forget the cartoonish look of the bull-shaped hole in the door.

Epilogue

Funnier today than when it happened? You bet! It was my pleasure to share these experiences throughout my career. Hopefully, you’ve chuckled, then looked back on some of your troubling moments. Maybe you smiled and laughed at yourself, too.

I am not riding off into the sunset yet, only changing roles to writing about crops across the Midwest. And I don’t have a big front porch. But we have a big back patio under a shade tree.

There might even be sheep around. Stop by anytime, and we will swap stories!

About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman is editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

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