And that’s no bull!

Dear Sunaina,

I hope all is well in the Big Apple, lacking worms and all. The homestead has been in the clouds for the last couple of days, hoping that today my clothes on the “solar dryer”, aka clothesline, will be done. A bull has made his way to Killer Hill, and has been making things interesting for some people here. The car search continues, and I learned something simple about perspective.

A few weeks ago I noticed a big black bull on Killer Hill, about 1500ft below me, and I wasn’t too bothered. He looked young and small in the African grasses and Glycine that grow all over the place. A couple of weeks ago he was about 500ft below me, in an area that people regularly walk and trail run. I talked to the neighbor, who didn’t know who owned it and said “there have been lots of bulls here over the years, some were a big problem but this guy seems pretty chill.” That’s a story that I didn’t buy. In my world, regardless of reality, there is no such thing as a “chill bull”. To me they are unpredictable, know their size and power, and they aren’t afraid to give a person a thrashing. Undeterred, I continued to walk and trail run along my normal route which is the same route a neighbor uses as well. For a couple days there was no sign of him, or I’d see him as I drove down Killer Hill to get mail and such. For a minute I thought that I might be overreacting with my discomfort in his presence. After all, he didn’t look huge or do anything to make me think he was mean. One day, on the way to a neighbor’s house, I was walking down a steep section of the hill, under a tree canopy, and as soon as I exited, about 50 yards away, the bull was laying down near the driveway. When he saw me he stood up, his giant bull penis dangled below him, and he faced me. The bull was much larger than I realized, what seemed to be about a 1000lb bull before was easily 1800+. I was way out of the charging zone, at least according to what I’ve read that range is about 20ft, but still he was too attentive for me at the moment. You’re not supposed to turn tail and run from a bull, and I’ll tell you with only a little shame and blushing, I broke every rule and I bolted from the hill to the driveway way slower than I wanted to! I wasn’t prepared at the moment and psyched myself out, and there was no one else with me. I also laughed at myself, and the bull penis, while I was running, and now you can too! Anyway, he didn’t follow me but he kept an eye and both ears on me.

Having safely made it to the neighbor’s land, I went about my business there. Later in the afternoon, just before dusk, I set off for home. I ninja’d past where the bull had been, no sign of him, and having not seen him higher on the hill I figured he probably went down to his more usual spots. I was wrong! I was just getting to the top of the first steep incline of the walk home, and as soon as I exited the other end of that same canopy the bull was there on my right side, about 30ft away, and I startled him. Luckily there was a run-off area dug out between us, so there was an impassable buffer in the way. He was very alert as I continued walking, one eye on him the whole time he was in frame, and once I fully passed he started eating again. I was relieved with that, obviously. The next day the neighbor that runs the same route as me was walking up Killer Hill from the base, after walking someone down, and she came across the bull. She faced a big problem though, not only did she startle him, she was about 10ft away from him. The bull doesn’t have horns, but they also don’t need them to kill someone, they can stomp and crush you just fine using their front legs and noggin. As she stood there, face to face with a giant bull, he lowered his head and scratched the ground. Luckily, he didn’t charge as she slowly backed away from him. Fair enough, he gave her a good warning, and she made it home safely. Well, “neighborhood” consensus, we cant have that danger on an already extremely dangerous hill. So I started a quest to find the owner, which I’m still on, before he fills the freezers of everyone on the hill. I got in touch with the nearby cattle ranch, that owns 30,000+ acres, and met one of their cowboys, he came up killer hill with me, dogs in tow, and we looked for the bull to no avail. But he did tell me where to find the brand they use to mark their livestock. Another neighbor passed us on the road and said the bull was going to be hamburger if we didn’t find the owner, the cowboy laughed and said “as long as he doesn’t have our brand he’s fair game!” He’s a beef bull, so his fate is inevitable, but I’d rather find the owner and let them move it to a safe location, and not risk making a local mad by killing him. I’ll look for his owner for the rest of the week, after that we’ll see what happens. I also learned from the cowboy who let the horses go out here, another person I’ll be contacting!

The Jeep is still working, even with all of its leaks and…jeepness. I’m still looking for a decent truck, not having one is probably keeping me from setting my roots down here because I cant get the materials I need without one. It’s not a bad thing, sometimes I need to slow down: re-speed bumps. Locals he re are notorious for treating their vehicles poorly, driving them until the wheels fall off, duck taping them back on, and then trying to sell for beyond prime prices. It’s pretty annoying! Most of the ads I see are really short, poorly described, and have pictures of the exterior of the vehicle. The most important parts of a car are the engine, drive train, transmission, and frame, so its always funny to me when people take pictures of the exterior body and nothing else. To me, perhaps wrongly so, that raises a red flag immediately and I’m reluctant to contact the person. I’ve probably spent $200 on gas just going to look at trucks, all of which have been pieces of junk or in need of major work. I even checked out one truck at a dealership and when I asked, “what’s wrong with it?” the dealer replied, “why don’t you tell me what you think is wrong with it?” I turned around and walked off the lot. The search goes on!

I had a lesson in perspectives a couple of days ago. While breaking in my new machete on Killer Hill, cutting back the tree branches that scrape up everyone’s cars, I accidentally cut a birds nest out of a tree. It was an older nest, already used, and it was easy to see where the weight of the baby birds had stretched the nest out into a nice bowl shape. I decided to save it and to give it to one of the neighbors so she could put her jewelry and trinkets in it. When I finished clearing that section of the trail I brought it over to her, and we set it up in her little 10’x10′ cabin. I’m 6′ tall, she’s 5’1″, and when I was setting it up the way she wanted it didn’t really make sense to me because I couldn’t see what else was on the shelf, the branches were blocking it. Then I realized our height difference, and I stooped down to her height and all of a sudden everything on the shelf was clear and visible. We got a good laugh out of that, and now I’ll definitely remember to think about things like that when I’m working with people. It’s such a simple little thing, looking at things from the same vantage point as those you’re working with.

I’ve gardened a bit for years, but always with seasons. Here there’s not much as far as a season goes. The avg temp in my area is 53-85f, all year round it’s within about 5 degrees, usually on the cooler side. The climate is technically “Subtropical Lower Montane Moist Forest”. As a result the kale gets 6′ tall, the broccoli gets 3′ tall and as big around as a barrel, the swiss chard and mustard greens get big enough to use as an umbrella, and things produce like crazy all year long. That said, the plants get old, bug eaten, or go to seed, and they need to be cycled out. I’m not used to this, so it’s a learning experience timing the growth of new plants with the decline of the old ones. I like that winter is a stranger here.

Last night I finally started sewing seed bags with the mesh I bought a couple months ago. It took me a few minutes to remember how to stitch, but I remembered without looking it up. In middle school I took Home Economics, a class with 20 something girls and maybe 3 or 4 boys, and my mom has always gotten a kick out of me being the best student in that class. I had an A, and it was probably my only A for all of Middle School. I get a kick out of it too. If I can find a good source of inexpensive hemp fabric, and a foot powered sewing machine, I’ll start making my own clothes eventually. It would be awesome to have a spinning wheel and all of that too! Ah, a boy and his dreams…

The growing flower of a Century plant that has been taken over by the invasive Soybean vine,
Did I mention that a couple of the neighbors on the hill are interested in helping me start a school up here? We’ll see what is talk and what is not, and if I do set my roots here (it’s looking promising), in time.

Wish me good luck, with the car, bull, and the rest! I’ll talk to you soon.

Aloha nui loa,

Colin

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