Thursday, November 4, 2010
Eschol Becomes a Man
Well, to be more accurate, Eschol has entered adolescence. And he hasn't changed species. It's just that our baby bull is showing signs that he is a baby no more. He's all bull now.
One fine October day--our wedding anniversary to be exact--Eschol began taking a very adult interest in Audrey. Yes, love was in the air that day. I remember it not just for the romantic associations of the date but also because I had just installed the electric fence around the fish pond.
Not being too confident in whether the electric rope would be a sufficient deterrent if the buffalo were determined to get out, I really didn't need to see Eschol showing off his newly-discovered testosterone surges. I must admit it was equal parts fascinating and nervous-making as I watched him make his initial advances just a few feet from where I was standing.
While I was aware of the risk of being this close to a frisky bull, he and the object of his affection were blocking my primary escape route. It quickly became apparent to me that he was only interested in one of the three females in the immediate area: Audrey. Effie and I were chopped liver. Still, the situation required keen attention to staying on my toes in case the action suddenly moved in my direction.
How can I describe it? No, I can't use a picture because I didn't have my camera with me. Technically, I suppose one would say that Eschol mounted Audrey. But that terminology hardly does justice to how very ungainly and ridiculous the whole process looks. Truly, Eschol would just fling himself up in her general direction and kind of splay out his front legs over her back. He'd only get a few seconds to try to get his groove on before Audrey would trot off, leaving Eschol in her wake.
I really don't know if Audrey was in heat and that was what got Eschol going or if he's just starting to get testosterone surges and thus decided to practice his breeding moves. They are both at an age where they could breed but it would be at the early end of the range. Audrey is the oldest of the two girls, so it wouldn't be surprising that she might be the first to go into heat. On the other hand, she's also the most docile, so if Eschol just wanted to practice, she's the one most likely to put up with his antics.
And boy does he need practice. Of his many, many attempts that day, the funniest was when he launched himself over the front end of Audrey. I tried to remind him that not only would he have little success with this method, his breeding days would be short-lived if he landed on her increasingly long and pointy horns.
In fact, she only pushed him away when he tried to mount her while she was eating hay. That seems entirely reasonable to me. In fact, I think she was very gracious about the whole thing seeing as Eschol made dozens of attempts. Effie was the one who got fed up with it and tried to push Eschol off of Audrey.
In retrospect, I think Audrey was in heat. After a day and a half of breeding attempts, Eschol suddenly stopped. Water buffalo have notoriously short and hard-to-detect heat cycles, so it's entirely possible that she was showing no other signs than that of Eschol's attention.
He made a couple of half-hearted attempts yesterday which seems a little soon for another cycle (three weeks would be reasonable), but just now he and Effie were fighting like I've never seen them before: locking horns and chasing around the pasture like mad. I wonder if she's in heat now but is aggressively resisting Eschol. Maybe last night he smelled an opportunity but went for Audrey out of habit (or because she won't try to kill him). He is being persistent despite rejection and I fear for his internal organs. Effie does not hesitate to use her horns to make her displeasure known. Audrey has already had to intervene several times to break up the fight and convince Effie to let it go.
I hope they sort it out before the really cold weather moves in tonight. I don't want Eschol kicked out of the barn for bad behavior. He's going to need the protection from the cold and wet. I know the girls won't let him snuggle up with them, so I've put some straw piles in stalls well away from their area in hopes that he can find some comfort there.
Pray for us all......