February 1, 2024

Have you heard Hazlehurst’s ‘flying bull’ story?

          “Hey, diddle, diddle,

            The cat and the fiddle,

            The cow jumped over the moon ….”

            How many times have you heard those Mother Goose lines?

            Plenty, I bet.

            But did you hear about the Hazlehurst bull that “flew” over the fence?

            Did what?

            I hadn’t known of the report until my bleary eyes—before January 30’s sunrise—read the story. Right there on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s front page was the headline: “Airborne bovine legend: Is it just a bunch of bull?”

            Here’s the gist.

            Farmer Charles Marchant had his bulls separated from his cows. The barrier to prevent overbreeding was a taut 5-foot-high barbed-wire fence. And then Mother Nature huffed and puffed and blew a terrific storm through Jeff Davis County. Somehow, a 1,500-pound bull switched pastures.

But how?

            The winds reached 100 mph in what a meteorologist said could have been a “gustnado.” And there are folks who believe the bull was lifted by the “gustnado” and put on the other side of the fence. Otherwise, how could the bull have gotten there?

My grandmother had a cow that was a jumper. The fix was simple. Jinx, her farmhand, fashioned a yoke out of a V-shaped hickory limb and attached it to old Bessie’s neck. When the cow tried to jump the hog-wire fence, the yoke’s hook yanked Bessie back down.

            Charles Marchant, an 81-year-old Vietnam veteran, would have known if his cantankerous bull was a jumper. There was no open gate or sagging wire. And if the bull had leaped over the fence, Marchant would have probably found patches of black hair snagged in the barbs. I’ve found plenty of deer-hair evidence in our fences.

            We have a male llama that can jump a barbed-wire fence. And if 300-pound George decides that he wants to court Georgette, over he goes, leaving traces of white fiber in the barbs. I didn’t make a yoke. I just moved Georgette to a distant pasture. George’s courting days are over. We have enough llamas.

            But back to that “flying” bull.

            Charles Marchant told the AJC that he had lived too long to start lying about “flying bulls.” It was Charles’ son, Zach, who first noticed the phenomenon. Reporter Joe Kovac Jr. related, in his article, that the younger Marchant looked out the window after the storm and said to his wife, “I know I don’t see as good as I used to, but that looks like there’s a damn bull in there with them horses.”

            I don’t know either Charles or Zach, but I do know strange things happen.  

            And I do know Tommy Purser, publisher of the Jeff Davis Ledger. Our friendship spans more than a half-century. I called Tommy to get his take on this. My friend chuckled and said, “Yeah, that story is going around.”

            Tommy had visited the Marchant farm and confirmed that the horrific wind had caused substantial damage. But he couldn’t add any information to the bull story.

            Lots of folks smarter than me have weighed in on the topic, including a Georgia Tech professor of “vertical lift aerodynamics.” There are doubters and believers of what really happened.

            I can’t say “diddle” about how the Marchant bull got from one side of the fence to the other. But I can say this:

            With all the other crazy things in the news these days, we need to pause and laugh about the legend of an airborne Black Angus.

            Even if it’s a whole lot of bull.