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Bless this bull

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Some of the more interesting moments during my life in New Guinea involved transporting bulls around in a small Cessna aircraft to places inaccessible by road.

Missionaries and Government workers alike encouraged village people to commence micro cattle projects as one spoke in the overall wheel of development. A wheel which was for some older Papua New Guineans to propel them from stone age to the jet age within the space of one single lifetime.
That is worth thinking about.  It is both an extraordinary proposition and no mean achievement.

The "flying bull procedure" involved sedating the young animal with injected xylazine, trussing it up with rope, and securing it as tightly as possible to anchor points on the floor of the aircraft where the passenger seats used to be. (Cessna 206's in flight would very likely respond unfavourably to 200 kg of bull suddenly transferring itself into the rear baggage zone) 
Then get to the destination quickly, for it is vital for the animal's health that the antidote be administered as soon as possible.

Some cattle ventures it would seem were just not meant to be.

Attempt one for a little village in the Kua valley saw the bull removed from the plane, woken up, and he was last seen galloping off back down the airstrip in the direction of the jungle.
Being faithful Lutherans, the village elders quickly determined the reason for this misadventure.  Religious Papua New Guineans have a penchant for blessing anything new before using it.
Houses, roads, bridges and trade stores all require this protective ritual.  This bull mishap was due to the absence of blessing.

Attempt No 2.  Bull flown in, lifted down onto the grass of the aircraft parking bay, ropes removed, and just as the sedative antidote was about to be injected, the elders intervened insisting upon firstly discharging their religious obligations.
The prayers and sermons were plentiful and protracted, and the bull, either from the sheer boredom of subconsciously listening to it all, or from the effects of delayed provision of antidote, died on the spot.

The people must have some lingering doubt to this very day as to whether or not God is fully supportive of their cattle industry.

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About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

21 responses »

  1. Sounds like a lot of bull to me, GOF. Sorry, I thought I'd better say it before someone less witty than I am does…

  2. What is it with 'seasoned' men and bad puns? 😉

  3. I'm not sure God is being supportive towards any industry these days…..

  4. I really hate to call into question the wisdom of missionaries and government experts … but … being a guy who lives in "cattle country" and knowing how much land it takes to feed them, I'd think that goats would have been the better choice – and a lot easier to transport.

  5. You just beat Inga to it by a cat's whisker Snowy.

  6. In thirty odd years time you will understand…..well if you choose to surgically change to a man you might understand……nah with the hell….you"ll never understand. Why do I need to justify a mans exquisite superior sense of humour anyway.

  7. Or indeed much else either ……

  8. "Seasoned", I like that. I think…

  9. You are well justified to question the wisdom of it all GOM. It is not something I would encourage these days. Cattle production anywhere in the world is a waste of land resources which could be used for better purposes. (suspect I'd better not visit your neck of the woods or I'll be lynched).Part of the wisdom behind it was improved protein nutrition for people. I suspect they would have been better served by learning from South America and raising guinea pigs instead. Then we would not have had to sedate them as much or use such heavy duty ropes to tie them down with.

  10. But then again she might just have thoughts of us in a very large pot with eleven herbs and spices……I think we should watch our backs Snowy.

  11. How did you go with the high altitude towns?When we (the RAAF) recovered WW2 remnants of aircraft sometimes the Chinook's had to be stripped right down to make the altitude.Sounded very "exciting".

  12. What a fascinating story. Slightly off track …. the manservant and I once flew on a really small plane (6 seater) from Oahu to Molokai'i (Hawaii). We all had to be weighed along with our luggage and were then positioned according to that weight so the plane would fly basically level (I was in the tail); our hand luggage was out in the wings. After all the weighing was done there was too much weight and decisions had to be made re leaving something behind. A guy volunteered to leave his wife behind in lieu of taking his golf clubs! You bring out the best memories in me.

  13. This airstrip was only at 3000 feet so there was no problem, but there were a couple of others above 5000 feet and less than 1200 feet long that were "interesting"….a little like stationary aircraft carriers in that you would drop off the end to gain airspeed. We always flew with minimum fuel to reduce weight.Where were you recovering "remnants" from Pete?

  14. All I have on that was that it was in PNG and very high altitude. Time frame of the late 70's.Part of the McCarthy family worked in PNG for years after the war. We don't have any links with them at the moment but my sister is investigating.

  15. If your sister is having trouble finding out any PNG information about the family, there is an excellent organisation in Australia for ex-PNG people (google PNGAA) Anyone can join for a small fee and they produce quarterly newsletters which help people link up. If you ever need any more info just send me a message Peter.A lot of the PNG highlands is around 10-12000 feet and is a challenging flying environment.

  16. No, you wouldn't be lynched … but you'd see that there is a lot of land around here that's much use for anything else. The flatter areas are farmed, the not-so-flat areas are used for grazing. This must be as nature intended it, by the way, since this area was once almost over-populated by buffalo (bison, actually). Personally, I'd rather have the cattle than a lot of people in the area.

  17. I can see your argument about areas of not much use for anything else. Here it is slightly different in that no cloven-hoofed animals previously roamed the country and a lot of ecology is now terminally damaged by cattle. My view is that kangaroos should be farmed instead. The meat is better for humans than beef, and they fit in perfectly with the natural vegetation. It is a growing industry, despite opposition from overseas "do-gooders" who think kangaroos are an endangered species.And from someone who spent many years milking cows…..I agree. Their personalities are more acceptable than many humans.

  18. Thanks for the tip GOF. I'll pass it on to her.I heard some folk had to use short runways and build up air speed after going over the edge. That's about a zero error margin.

  19. Sometimes there is 2000 feet over the edge, so that's a fair margin for error.


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