By golly, I do believe that on my birthday last week I received the biggest present (literally) that I have received in all of my forty-one years.
Eric got me a bull. Yep, a bull. Isn’t he sweet? (Eric, not the bull. Although the bull seems kind of sweet, too.)Truth be told, though, Eric got the bull as the new herd sire… not really as a pet for me to walk around on a leash. Or as a big hunk of warmth to snuggle up next to on the couch. Or as a play thing to dress up in tutus and tap shoes. Really, the bull was Eric’s excuse to whisk me off to Virginia for a four-day road trip to fetch the big fella and bring him back to Bugtussle.
What a deal. First of all, it’s a huge deal to just get off the farm for more than a few hours. Any time we leave for an extended period, we go to great lengths to make it as easy as possible for our caretakers (usually Jesse and Hannah) to manage the farm in our absence. Secondly, it may be an even bigger deal to go anywhere without the children. Thirdly, this trip was a big deal because we are not veteran cattle haulers and weren’t quite sure how we would do pulling a trailer with a 2,000 pound animal through the mountains.Once we had the farm in some semblance of order, we loaded up in the truck and headed to my sister’s to leave the children in her care. I knew they would be much happier there than stuck in the back seat of the truck for twenty-some-odd hours on the road. Plus, the kids get incredibly spoiled by Aunt Cassie: daily ice-cream, movies, bubble baths, etc. And she is as high-strung as I am, so she has lots of energy for doting on the little buggers. Once the kids were settled, we moved on to pick up our borrowed trailer from my brother. He got us all set up, and with his encouraging words of confidence, we hit the road headed east.We didn’t get much beyond Louisville that first day, but tallied nearly seven hours on the road. Our plan was to (sort of) take our time in getting to the farm where the bull resided, making a few stops along the way. We knew that once the bull was loaded there would be no time for sight-seeing. Day two was a lovely day for traveling, with cooler temperatures as we crossed the Appalachian mountains and traveled through the Shenandoah Valley, ending the day’s travels near Charlottesville. Day three was spent there, spending some time in finding some good spare tires for the trailer, having lunch at a Chipotle restaurant that served Joel Salatin’s pork, and then on to the historical home of Thomas Jefferson.Eric and I were so pleased that we took the time to visit the amazing and inspiring Monticello. Especially considering that this residence was essentially a glorified homestead, touching on so many points that are near and dear to my heart. While I loved seeing the inventive architectural features of the house itself, and the incredible series of cellars (including a wine cellar and a beer cellar!), the elaborate gardens really struck a chord with me. Admittedly, I was seriously jealous of the vineyard. Oh, and all of the flowers! My gardener’s eye could easily identify the deer pressure the historical vegetable gardens were facing and I suppose electrified deer fencing just wouldn’t look very historical, now would it? I also find it pretty cool that the visitor center’s store offered packets of seeds for sale that were collected and saved from those very gardens we were touring. It was a day well spent and thoroughly enjoyed.When we were finished strolling on the Monticello grounds, the day was fading. We had a short drive to the outskirts of Richmond, which was very near to where we were to pick up the bull the next morning.
On the fourth day, we were up early. We filled the truck with gas, checked the pressure in all of the tires, and headed to the farm to pick up the bull. When we arrived, we were pleased to meet the farmers and see their small-scale grass-based dairy farm where our new Red Devon bull “Goldie” has been herd sire for several years. We didn’t waste any time in getting set up to load him, as we had a long day of driving ahead of us. When trying to load a creature of this size into a small-ish trailer with very minimal handling facilities, it can either go two ways: good or bad. “Bad” could easily mean that all of the driving was for naught, and we would head home with an empty trailer. Fortunately for us, Goldie was amiable and loaded without too much fuss. Whew.
As soon as he was securely on the trailer, we said our goodbyes and started driving. And we kept driving, and driving, and driving that whole long day with only one five-minute pit stop. To put it mildly, we had to come up with some pretty creative solutions to relieve our natural urges while rolling down the highway. Ahem. Ten and a half hours later, just as the last bit of light was fading from the sky, we arrived back home on the farm. We had not a moment to spare in getting that big guy unloaded before total darkness fell. When his feet hit the ground, I think we all, Eric, myself, and the bull, collectively sighed a huge sigh of relief.