He knows who feeds him...

The dogs bark wildly - like the day a bear chose our Pollywog Creek garbage for his Thanksgiving feast - so I look out the windows to make sure I don't wander into another bear before I go outside to see what all the fuss is about.


Across the road out front, a large black and white bull has escaped his pasture and has sidled up to the fence near Mr. Arrollaga's steer. The county school day is coming to an end and when the little children who live next door get off their big yellow bus down the road, they will have to walk right past that bull to get home. So I go back inside the house and get Louis.


Except for the dogs, who have stopped their incessant barking, and our concern for the children who will be coming home from school soon, there's nothing to get excited about. Rogue horses and cows are a common occurrence in this rural southern community along the Caloosahatchee River.

Louis is just a wee bit irritated at the distraction - that he has to stop what he's doing to find the owner and/or corral this bull, but he knows what he needs to do and how to do it. He grew up raising cows, and in the years between his time in the Navy and college, he worked cows for a living. I know nothing about cows, so I leave the business of the bull to Louis and take a walk around the pond and through the gap to the creek since I'm already outside.



I'm down by the creek when Louis calls to me - to tell me that the big black and white bull is no longer visiting Mr. Arrollaga's steer - that he and his cattle egret sidekicks are now coming down our driveway and since we don't know much about the temperment of this bull, it would be a good idea for me to come back from the creek and get inside the fenced backyard.



The bull is in no hurry as he circles around the north side of the house near our pasture. If only he'd go through the once gated opening, Louis could block the exit with his truck, but the bull continues around the house, stopping to investigate the honeysuckle vine and the stump of an old pine tree and to graze along the chain-link fence before going through the gap toward the creek.


It's the dry season here and the bank is too steep for the bull to cross the shallow creek, so he walks from one fenced end of our property to the other.


Discovering there's no way out, he meanders back through the gap, around the pond on the south side of the house, and down the driveway back to Mr. Arrolaga's steer.


By now, Louis has called his friend and brother in Christ, Cowboy Mike, who in turn calls the sheriff for backup. Mike doesn't want to be accused of stealing a bull, but he has a horse and the equipment to rope the bull, as well as a trailer to transport him until the owner is located.

Three deputies from the two different counties arrive with Mike, but someone else has Mike's horse and trailer and it will be a while before it arrives, so the men work together to corral the bull into a field thick with pine trees next to the Arrolaga's pasture. They learn who owns the bull and that it's the third time he's jumped the fence and escaped, so the owner gladly accept's Cowboy Mike's offer to purchase the bull from them.


Two deputies leave, and while Louis, Mike and the remaining deputy wait for the horse and trailer, the bull wanders throughout the field to an opening into Mr. Arrolaga's pasture. When he returns to where Mike and Louis previously corraled him, Mr. Arrolaga's steer comes with him.


With a bucket of dog food, Louis lures the bull away from the steer while Mr. Arrolaga whistles to call his steer home, and I'm amazed how well the steer knows his owner's whistle and heads back home.


Three hours into this distraction, the owners arrive and easily approach their bull.


They pat his head and rump and rub their hands across his back.


It appears that this bull is nothing more than a gentle giant, but even gentle giants don't like to be roped, so they wait for the horse and trailer. That's when Cowboy Mike, as he watches the men pet the bull, speaks a simple truth that I glean from this whole adventure, "He knows who feeds him."

Before the horse and trailer arrive, this pure muscle of a beast demonstrates his escape manuevers before I can capture it with my camera. He positions himself next to the barbwire fence, jumps right over it and heads for home - the old and new owners and a deputy escort, too.


He knows who feeds him and he follows him home.

I'm not looking for a spiritual application to this three hour bull session, but it's so clear, I'd be blind to not see it.

This black and white bull and even the scrawny steer are much like a certain pilgrim who's been known to wander, but she knows Who feeds her and when He calls she turns to follow, because she trusts Him to lead her Home.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Come Thou Fount