I love animals, but I don’t trust them. I believe they should be observed from a safe distance which, in my experience, means about six inches between me and my dinner plate. If David Attenborough has taught me anything it’s this: you’re either reading the menu, or you’re on it. Cows mightn’t be man eaters but that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous, especially when armed.
While laying out the balloon in Belinda’s paddock in the pre-dawn light we had seen a very rotund Belted Galloway munching away in the far corner. Belinda was away but had assured us that the paddock was fine to use, so we carried on regardless. What we hadn’t seen was the Texan Longhorn hanging around in the tree line. Anybody familiar with the brand RM Williams will know from their logo what the head of a Texan Longhorn looks like. With horns, known as a rack, measuring anything up to two meters wide it’s easy to see how they got their name.
Our neighbour was a young steer, but toting a five-foot rack he was confident enough to want to know who was on his patch. It wasn’t long before The Texan was heading our way.
We only had to pull out the envelope and we were ready to inflate when The Texan arrived. Naturally wary of all creatures I’d have packed up and left on seeing the Galloway, but Gretta assured me I was being a wuss. I wasn’t about to try and shoo away an animal that could prick me like a sausage, so left him alone to sniff around in the hope he’d lose interest and wonder off.
Our cunning plan to play it cool was working well until the envelope bag looked at The Texan funny. He gave a loud snort, lowered his head and a second later a fold of the nylon envelope was hanging off his left horn. The natural response of any beast so entrapped is to shake itself free. Things weren’t looking good for the Quit balloon. I willed Gretta to jump forward and do some Crocodile Dundee buffalo hypnotism thing. With a flick of a wrist she did the next best thing and freed The Texan from the fabric snare. He eyeballed us both, lined up the bag and gave it a solid thump.
We decided to leg it.
I gave the inflation fan a quick pull to buy us some room. The Texan jumped in the air like a scolded cat and backed off enough so that Gretta could separate envelope from basket while I re-positioned the trailer. Our escape was quick and dirty. With adrenaline coursing through our veins we near threw the fully fueled basket back onto the trailer with the envelope going in untidily behind it. Gretta held it all in place while I drove; leaving The Texan master of the field.
The Texan doesn’t know it, but I see a dinner plate in his future.