The Rathmore Rambler
(2nd Excerpt from Ulysses O’Mooney by Brendan O’Neill
The Rathmore Rambler was a prime 10 year old Hereford bull - which is partly how he came by his name. R was the Herd Book registration letter for 1959 - and that fact - coupled with the placename of his birth and precocious propensity from an early age to overcome all hindrance in his quest to seek out loving bovine liasons - resulted in him being branded as such.
Many local farmers had often considered asking the affable Paddy Prenderghast if his prizewinning bull could be used to cover their cows, only to find out that the Rambler had somehow mysteriously anticipated their request and launched his own prodigious version of the pre-emptive strike. A normally docile hunk of prime beef would rapidly become uncontrollable and unstoppable at the feintest whiff of a cow coming into season.
The Rambler reckoned that Larry's two cows Daisy and Buttercup - being near neighbours, were part of his personal harem - though he was reputed to break out and wonder up to 10 miles away if their was enough of a stiff and promisingly scented breeze. Being a bull he also felt an innate duty to protect them from harm.
With the morning that was in it, there was a good strong south westerly breeze, as a gale from the night before gradually petered out. Whilst munching at a tussock of particularly sweet grass, the Ramblers left nostril suddenly twitched and the alarm bells of some primordial protective herd instinct clanged in his head.
Down at Larry's, Ulysses was practicing his milking skills.
Larry had had to get away early to go and explain the events of the previous evening in court. Ulysses had volunteered to keep an eye on things and do some jobs while he was gone. Larry was pleased because although he knew Ulysses would have gladly come along to support him - the thought of exposing him to all that officialdom and particularly any unnecessary contact with the local judiciary made him uneasy.
Ulysses had taken out the old three legged stool and a couple of sterilized buckets to where Larry's two milch cows Daisy and Buttercup were waiting impatiently in the pasture.
"Come on now lad" said Daisy in mock reproach. "We haven't got all day".
Ulysses smiled knowing full well that they did. They liked being milked by Ulysses. He was a natural. Once Larry had showed him what to do, he had become adept in a very short time. Ulysses was fascinated at how you were able to get not just great tasting milk but lovely home-made cheese and butter from just one type of animal. It wasn't at all like the artificially engineered food back home. Xxlypxlian scientists were still trying to undo the terrible damage caused by some genetically modified plants and foods.
"Isn't it Buttercups turn first today" asked Ulysses mischievously. He loved to chat with them and listen to their mock-serious insouciant banter.
Daisy mooed indignantly.
"Oooh silly cow. Isn't she the one" said Buttercup winking at Ulysses with one long lashed eyelid.
"Oh. Yours is it?"
He put the bucket down under Daisy and started working away. Once she was milked he placed the full bucket aside and went over to milk Buttercup.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash of ginger land on a nearby wall. It was that old Tom-cat again. He had caught it the other morning - paws on the rim of the bucket - slurping at the fresh cream.
"You might have asked" he had scolded gently. It was obviously very hungry.
The cat had looked at him and then bolted. Amazed that it had understood his words.
It was back again. Must be a stray.
"Help yourself" he coaxed.
He heard it purr deeply as if in thanks. He watched as it moved to the edge of the wall and prepared to jump down. He was puzzled when it suddenly pulled back and paused teetering on the top of the stone wall. It edged backwards. He was rather alarmed to see the hackles on its back rise up sharply.
Just then the light around him dimmed considerably as if something had blotted out the sun. The suddenly startled cows stampeded off. He gulped as his Personal Defence Mechanism started to shriek its maximum alarm signal - warning him that in this instance it couldn't protect him. He was in trouble. He turned to look.