Friday, March 30, 2012

Feed the Bulls

By Julie Rahm

My husband, John, says “sometimes you gotta feed the bull.” One day, I finally asked him to explain himself. Here’s the story. John grew up next to a farm. It was a very rural area and a long walk to the school bus stop. (“Uphill both ways and through the waist-deep, year-round snow.”) The short cut to the bus stop was through one of the pastures. In this pasture was a heard of Black Angus cattle. The patriarch of the heard was a huge bull. At one and one-half tons, this bull was very intimidating. It frightened both adults and children alike. This bull had a loud snort and foamed at the mouth. It stomped and kicked up dirt in an unmistakable life threatening display. The bulls eyes blazed with mean black hatred. This bull even smelled bad. He was a nasty animal. Taking the short cut to the bus stop through this pasture was certain suicide. No one dared near this animal. In fact, with this beast in mind the fence was electrified. So one day John, age 10, was feeding the other Angus some carrots through the electric fence. The bull came over to investigate. John tossed a carrot over the fence. The bull gobbled the carrot right down. John followed with another. Soon, the bull was eating carrots right out of John’s hand. Unbeknownst to his mother, after a few days and a few bags of carrots, John was able to work himself inside the fence. It was only a matter of time before John could short cut through the pasture to the bus stop. The fee for passage was carrots. On school days, the bull followed John through the pasture, eating carrots along the way. It was sight to behold… John, weight of 60-pounds, bull trailing, weight of 2,500-pounds. When John’s parents first witnessed this event, their first inclination was to get the rifle and then call an ambulance! John’s parents really never got comfortable with the short cut, even with a bag of carrots. As a bonus, John received instant status among his playmates when he demonstrated his ability to touch the bull. The bull and John really never became friends. It is not the nature of a bull to become friendly. However, as long as John had carrots, the bull was docile.

So goes the metaphor of feeding the bull. Feed the bull and be permitted to shortcut through the pasture. Who is the bull in your life? Is it your boss, your spouse or a repairman? What do have to feed your bull to get your way? Some of your metaphorical carrots might be a difficult compliment or simple acknowledgement. Children have an uncanny knack for feeding their parents carrots to get their way. So, my last mention is to be aware who’s feeding you carrots and trying to shortcut through your pasture!

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