He may be one of the most easy-going bulls ever to cross the front cattle guard. He’s most assuredly the first Sim-Angus to have ever been infused into the herd genetics.
It didn’t take long for his bold and distinguished registered name “Blaze” to be changed. Though his lightning-white face did shine brilliantly against his slick, black body, few animals keep their original names once they become a part of the ranch family. One exception was a registered Angus bull named Pendleton. Granted, he was affectionately referred to as “Pennie” in all polite conversation. And subsequently as other names if a behavior violation had caused a fence to be destroyed.
This mild-mannered new kid on the block received a more fitting moniker soon after his delivery. Since Rachel voted not to take the stock trailer to the sale that day (totally guaranteeing that a bull would be bought), the new bull was delivered by a fellow farmer and his charismatic grandson nicknamed “Punkin.” True to his handle, Punkin was all cheeks when he helped his granddaddy open the trailer gate. Peering around the corner of the barn in response to the ear-deafening pleas of a hungry bottle calf named Truman, he exclaimed, “I have a bottle calf, too.”
The cheeky innocence was not lost on me and Rachel. After the delivery crew departed, the nickname stayed.
Little Punkin endured not one but two snow events, a rarity for Alabama, during his patient wait for breeding season. Each chilly morning, he was promised that his herd would be the loud bunch just across the yard. Prone to disruptions, this herd was dubbed “The Hebs,” short for Hebrews, much like the Israelites in the wilderness, constantly vocalizing their discontent. Punkin made a concerted effort to eat well and exercise daily (by playfully chasing his roommates) in preparation for the challenge ahead.
If Punkin was nervous for his first big day on the job, you couldn’t tell. He went to work immediately checking cows and making new friends. Though many of the herd leaders were clearly taller than him, he showed no signs of intimidation. His confident smile even won over hard-to-read (and possibly breed) Helga.
The real test of character came when Rachel decided to grant The Hebs a back-up sire. Old Zip (named years ago when he made his ranch debut by sky-rocketing off the trailer) had avoided all attempts to move last breeding season (and we wondered how we would ever get him to the barn to sell), but miraculously felt compelled to perform his bull duties this season.
In keeping with his pleasant nature, the addition of an older male was not a deal-breaker for Punkin. Whether it was out of pity or respect or both, he allowed Zip to have dibs on whatever ladies he chose, though patient and polite Punkin was never too far from anyone in heat, just in case old Zip needed a break.
To say we are looking forward to Punkin’s calves (aka the Punkin Patch) is an understatement. Each little white face will be celebrated, and a few will probably get named. Punkin will likely tell them, “A nickname is a good thing. It means you’re here to stay.”