Thursday, December 18, 2008

That's bullspit

"Owner Bob Tibbs brushes White Squall, his young state grand champion Charolais bull, at Shadow Springs Farm in Havre de Grace. White Squall weighs 1,700-pounds and will be looking to win a national title during a contest in Kentucky."

Some photojournalist friends of mine and I have a joke about shooting assignments that involve animals. I tend never to get any while they are continually scooping up the fun animal based work. What do I think? I think it's bull-spit.

Over the summer I watched others, particularly Monica, get numerous animal assignments which were far some being serious news pieces.

From baby elephants sniffing her toes, pigs squealing as they eluded young boys trying to tackle them in the mud, to the famous (or infamous) face licking monkey.

After a while we began ragging on each other that these were the assignments that made the hilarious front page features when news was slow. Not to mention, they were a blast to shoot, too.

The funny thing is, once I brought it up in jest to others, everyone agreed that they too wanted the fun, loving animal assignments.

While I didn't get many this year, I got one that included goats, totally unrelated to my morning work one day, and you better believe I incorporated those fuzzy, horned creatures into a couple frames.

Months later I finally got my own animal assignment. It wasn't penguins who could the play trumpet or chipmunks that could act dramatic on cue. It was a huge cow.

Right up the road from my house, owned by a Harford County farmer, this bull weighed in at an astonishing 1,700-pounds. And what made this massive piece of meat worth mentioning in ink was he (at the time) seemed to have a shot at a national title during an upcoming contest in Kentucky.

With a snow white coat and weighing the mass of my old Honda in high school, this bull, White Squall, was among the country's best according to local cow experts.

Since then, White Squall didn't win as expected. From what we were told judges looked at his size, shape and structure - particularly his legs, feet and muscle. In addition, they inspected how well he represented his breed.

Well, I am no judge, but this was the largest animal I had ever witnessed up close in person. He won the largest animal award by me for sure.

At one point he laid down and I watched his hoofs as they easily smashed into the frozen ground like feet into three-foot deep snow. I couldn't imagine if I had been underneath him before he decided to rest and how badly I'd be injured, if I even survived.

What I also noticed was his brass ring in his nose. All my life I had never known what they were for, but apparently they are a must for show bulls in case their temperament goes through the roof.

The reporter and I hung around for a little over an hour talking bull and getting to know his owner and a little about both of their lives.

Nothing too exciting happened since White Squall was tied up following his bath. I didn't get kicked or stepped on either. From the minute I met this bull (I want to say cow so badly), I knew I wouldn't either. It was like a 2,000-pound white puppy dog.

After we left, I knew it wasn't the thrilling animal assignment I had been waiting to brag about to friends. But you should know I rubbed it in like it was the best of the year. Hopefully they fell for it.


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