Growing up on the farm had its advantages for a precocious child such as myself, first off, I could practically run wild all over the farm and could do whatever I wanted to do as long as I didn’t hurt myself. One of my favorite pastimes as a child was harassing one of our bulls named “Ol’ Doan”. Ol’ Doan got his name because he was purchased off of Doan Harman down at Onego, WV, but he had been on our farm for several years. Ol’ Doan was a giant of a Hereford bull, he was Red with a white face and I know he weighed at least 2,000 lbs. He was scary to look at with his massive size and the typically gnarled face of a bull. However, Ol' Doan was as gentle as could be, and I used this to my advantage!
A hereford bull, this is exactly what Ol' Doan looked like.
Whenever Ol' Doan was around, I would harass him by throwing rocks at him, and would allow all the cows to get to the water tank except for Ol' Doan. I wouldn’t even let Ol' Doan walk up the road by our house, I made him walk down into the holler and up around the hillside to get to the other side of the farm. I don’t know why I did this, I guess I was a cattle bully, and I guess because I could.
Also, whenever the cows were in heat, Ol' Doan would get into calling out to them like a bull does, “Mooooo,moooo,moo,moo,mo” in a series of quick “moo’s” that were drawn out at the beginning and ended with a growl-like “mmmmm”. Well, I quickly caught on that Ol' Doan didn’t like competition, he dominated our other two bulls on the farm, Blackie and Ernie. They were solid black in color and were much smaller than Ol' Doan, though not as friendly. This isn’t to say Blackie and Ernie were mean though, we wouldn’t allow mean stock to stay on our farm. Anyway, I caught on that if I mocked Ol' Doan when he was calling to the cows, it really ticked him off, he would get really mad, stomp his feet and run up and down the hillsides looking for the other bull who was challenging him. I didn’t think Ol' Doan ever figured out that it was me that was tomenting him, until one day he got me back.
Remnants of the old chickenhouse and the farmhouse.
Ol' Doan must have seen me enter the old chickenhouse, which was across the creek from our house and into a little meadow on the opposite hill. I was probably in the chickenhouse looking for eggs or somehow torturing the chickens, I don’t exactly remember what led me to the chickenhouse that afternoon. Usually I always went over there with someone since there was always someone who’d tag along with you wherever you went on the farm, but that day I went alone. As I recollect, as soon as I went in the chickenhouse, I saw Ol’ Doan running off the hill toward me. I didn’t think anything of it, I just figured I'd have a chance to throw a rock at him or hit him with a stick or something. But this time, Ol’ Doan didn’t appear to be cowardly around me, he poked his head into the chickenhouse door and bellowed at me, I threw a handful of corn at him and he backed out of the chickenhouse, but instead of leaving, he laid down against the door and blocked my exit from the chickenhouse.
A close-up of the old chickenhouse.
I hollered for help but nobody came to check on me, I went out into the chicken coop and hollered over to the house, and still nobody came to see about me. I know I stood there for a half hour, whenever I’d try to get the door open, Ol’ Doan would just look at me and softly moo. After I saw that the big lummox wasn’t going to move, I went back out to the coop and hollered again over the house, and Mom heard me but didn’t know where I was hollering from. Later she said they wondered if I had fallen into a cave or a sinkhole that permeated the property because they could hear me but it was a really faint call for help. Mom got a few others to look for me and they looked over at the chickenhouse and seen Ol’ Doan laying there but didn’t think anything of it. When I saw them look over toward me, I let out the squall of all squalls and jumped up and down and waved my hands, finally they spotted me and the whole lot of them burst out laughing. They had seen that Ol’ Doan had finally paid me back for all the mischief I had inflicted upon him. When they came over to the chickenhouse to rescue me, Ol’ Doan just got up and walked off like he didn’t know what going on, but after that I remember being a little more respectful of Ol’ Doan.