When we moved out of Detroit and to “the country” as it is referred to in Michigan, we raised our own food. Pigs, chickens, rabbits, turkeys, and a bull. The bull’s name was Buddy. Buddy the Bull. I remember helping my dad and brother dig fence post holes in preparation for the delivery of Buddy the Bull. It was a lot of work in the rich Michigan dirt. Then we had to run the electric fence and make sure everything was secure and hooked up properly and in working order. This took place over a time period that seemed like years but was more than likely a few Saturdays worth of work.
Buddy arrived and we had everything set for him. He was young and not fully grown obviously but lots of food and water and that changed. He grew that season into a beautiful adult bull. Smooth black hair covered his body and he produced sounds that made me think “that’s what Big Foot would sound like”.
Every day after school we (my brothers and me) were responsible for feeding and watering the animals. As much as I loathed this chore I enjoyed it just as much because I loved animals. It was a double edged sword however because I spent a lot of time with the animals knowing they would eventually become my food. I believe the geese knew this all along and made it apparent they had no intention of being friendly while we fattened them up. We had a turkey that liked to attack every time you had your back turned to him too. It made for interesting explanations of scabs and scars at school.
Buddy the Bull and I never really became friends. He was massive and I knew he could stomp me into the ground without much effort. There was however a mutual respect as long as he was on one side of the electric fence and I on the other. Every now and then I could pat his head and he seemed content with that. He knew why he was there. I knew why he was there. We didn’t talk about it.
You would think the strongest electric fence available could keep Buddy within the confines of his pen. It wasn’t a small pen either. He had his own field all to himself. He had room to run and play and eat until his four bellies were full.
Our house sat on the corner of a main road and side road. One day, coming home from school on the bus, I happened to look up ahead and saw a black mass at the cross road and a person dressed in gray, swinging a bucket in front of the mass. It was my mom. Buddy the Bull had somehow escaped his pen and my mom was in front of him, in the middle of the road, trying to coax him back to the barn a couple football fields away with a bucket of oats and thick stick for protection. It was the one time I was glad we were the second to last bus stop. Word still got around though, it was a small town.
I got off the bus and my mom yelled at me and my brother to get in the house. I’m sure she was thinking the same thing I was – there was no electric fence to stop this massive creature from trampling over us. We went in and watched through the window for the next 20 minutes while she led him back to the barn and secured him in the inside pen until my dad came home.
We walked the fence line and found where he had broken through. That bull took a running charge on the side of the barn, parallel to the side road, right through the electric fence. We knew by the marks he left on the side of freedom. You could see where his hooves had skidded into the dirt. A small trench about two feet long and holes at the end where he had dug his heels in. Evidently the shock from fence shook him bad enough to stun him a moment before he meandered down the road.
I could only imagine my mom’s reaction earlier that day when she glanced out the window and saw Buddy the Bull hanging out in the road. There was our winter’s worth of meat just trotting down the road and she had to rescue it. I should have noted earlier my mom is about 5’-4” and petite. It was a sight to see.
This wasn’t the last time Buddy the Bull escaped. He kept trying but he always ended up back in the pen thanks to a little woman, a bucket of oats and big stick.
I’ve been tickled by this story all morning, playing it over in my head. I asked God why He reminded me of it. Here was His answer. There are times in life where we have to get out of our comfort zone. Out of the area where we know where to take shelter, where to find our food and where we can find someone to pat us on the head. The electric fence may be there for our protection but to bust through it is going to sting a little, if only for a while. We have to dig our heels in, regroup, and only then can we trot down the road to freedom.
Buddy turned back. It was his choice. He was powerful enough to take off down the road and there was nothing any of us could have done about it. We can turn around and play it safe or we can trust God and keep heading for the horizon. I choose to trust God.
Proverbs 3:5 (KJV)
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.