Oregon woman remembers a close encounter with a yearling Holstein bull while cycling to school from her family farm
I was raised on a family farm on the plains of South Dakota. My sister Hazel and I had to go a couple of miles to the school bus line. Our transportation was our bicycle; me on the mid-bar and Hazel riding and peddling it. She was a high school freshman and I was in the seventh grade.
Our neighbor had cattle in his field across from our home. He usually had Herefords, but that year he had raised a yearling Holstein bull.
As we left the house one morning we noticed the bull by the neighbor's fence, bellowing at our cows. We were always very afraid of bulls and we hoped he would not follow along inside his fence. He remained there bellowing for a while. We had covered about half the distance to an unused rural schoolhouse three-fourths of a mile from our home. Suddenly the bull seemed to move like lightning as he saw us pass on the road. He rushed along inside his fence, bellowing furiously. Hazel pedaled as fast as possible and told me to keep an eye on the bull. That fence was a regular woven wire with three strands of barbed wire at the top. We had no idea whether the bull could get through or over it.
We were nearing the unused schoolhouse when I saw the bull back off, rush at the fence and sail right over it. He galloped toward us and I jumped off the bike, making it easier for Hazel to wheel it onto the school grounds and up to the building. We were afraid the schoolhouse was locked, and it was, but the entry door was not. In a panic we dragged the bike up the steps and into the entry and slammed the door right in the bull's face! He roared and pawed on the steps and small porch. We were breathless and scared almost to death. The bull pushed and pawed on the door; it had no lock and we tried to hold it shut. We prayed out loud for God to help us. We feared the door would not hold much longer and we were helplessly trapped.
We had endured this for about 15 minutes when we heard a car horn and noticed a lessening of the bull's activity. We had a neighbor who lived in the opposite direction from the schoolhouse, and we heard her voice calling to us. She yelled for us to leave the bike and to try to come out and get in her car. We opened the door a crack and saw her car pulled right up at the steps. She got out of her car and the bull started for her, but she had a pitchfork and he paused a bit over that. In that moment, on the other side of the car, we grabbed the door open and jumped in. The neighbor got in the driver's side and we roared off with the bull chasing the car for a while before he gave up. The neighbor took us to the school bus line, but we were so upset we might as well have missed that day of school.
The bull's owner was informed about this incident and he had the animal shipped off to the packing house the next day.
God certainly did answer our prayer for help. Twenty-seven years later as I talked with the neighbor about rescuing us she said, "It must have been the Lord, I couldn't see the road or the school-house from inside my home, but that morning I happened to go out early to feed my chickens and I saw you go into the entry with the bull after you."
Eunice Hoien Dahlgren
Sweet Home, Oregon
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.
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