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A Literal Cock And Bull Story

"Yamba, a handsome Angus bull, had broken his penis. Or at least, that's what it looked like."
January 31, 2015, 10:50pm

Mustering Yamba's herd

We heard it from Lady Tarrango first, upon her return home from a quad-bike inspection of the farm with her husband. She spoke plainly, already costing the different outcomes, and was not unaware that the situation was funny, in an obvious way, and particularly so for people that had never owned livestock.

Then we heard it from Lord Tarrango (the royal designation and the word Tarrango are his ideas – it's a name he jokingly adopts amongst close friends, Tarrango being a type of Australian grape used in the Lord's preferred wine). Half an hour behind his wife, he also spoke of the situation with a sense of humour that didn't veil his concern; his laughs were qualified with an, "ahhh well."

The news was this: Yamba, a handsome Angus bull, had broken his penis. Or at least, that's what it looked like.

A friend and I – both journalists – are staying on the farm for the duration of the Tamworth Country Music Festival. My friend, Gareth, has been close to the couple for years – he's the ex-boyfriend of their niece. They're amazing hosts, generous, open, and hilarious. Playing Euchre with the Lady is a treat; she'll make you feel every lost hand. After scoring a Euchre she'll ask, "what's the name of the game again? I've forgotten." We had no inkling that something this serious would happen while we were boarding. I was here to cover the festival, not write about bull cocks.

I asked Tarrango what happens if Yamba turned out to have a broken penis, some kind of expensive surgery?

A bull's penis doesn't have much in the way of erectile tissue. An aroused specimen isn't particularly larger than a flaccid one, though if you don't know what you're looking at (I didn't) it might appear as such. The very real stiffening and a relaxation of the retractor penis muscle give an illusion of expansion but the penis isn't growing out of its hairy sheath so much as the sheath is retracting around the penis. This process begins before the bull raises his forelegs and perches upon his mate but starts in earnest once he's on two legs and walking baby-legged into position (with what I briefly and mistakenly thought to be miniature practise humps). The sex act itself is impressively brief, consisting of a single muscular thrust.

But this wasn't how it was working out for Yamba. Bought eight months previous and taking over from the more experienced Spirabee, he had been in with the cows for two menstrual cycles. Three days ago he'd seemed fine – he didn't attempt any mating while his owners were watching but that's not unusual – so as likely as not, the injury occurred within that time frame. During this new inspection, Yamba was trying to follow the proper procedures with a willing mate. But instead of the quick penetrative act he might have expected, Yamba was snorting and swinging his thick skull with effort. He was perched, but it wasn't right.

"You could tell he wanted to but he couldn't get it going," Lord Tarrango described to me afterward, "Something was wrong. We couldn't get a real close look but it looked pretty bad."

It was as though his sheath was retracting incorrectly, or his penis was lost inside his belly somewhere outside the sheath. What amount of the Yamba's genitals could be seen as he agitatedly shook were worryingly coloured.

I asked Tarrango what happens if Yamba turned out to have a broken penis, some kind of expensive surgery? Perhaps in preparation for the eventuality, Tarrango was harsh with his description of the standard response, "He's been breeding so he's lost weight. We'd let him feed for a few months, let him get bigger. Then we'd chop off his head."

Yamba

Over drinks that night the jokes came more freely. Whenever the call-back to Yamba's broken cock was even remotely applicable it was deployed. Thinking back it may have been a bit raw for our hosts, I'm not sure, if we'd been more attentive we might have picked up that they were coming in on our jokes but when they cracked their own they would contain a searching explanations as to what happened – a joke about how Yamba had a bit of a miscue, say. But we weren't attentive. Gareth offered his services as a "cock whisperer."

"Let me in with him. I will learn the secrets. The cock will talk to me."

I think I made one about having the sexual habits of a bull: no staying power, a high chance of impregnation, and sometimes my cock would just fall off – I feel some regret about now but everybody was laughing. Maybe you need the anxiety of the event to feel its humour.

Each joke would end and be followed by a subdued yet restless observation, something like, "we'll find out what's what tomorrow."

Lord Tarrango

Around 8AM and Gareth and I were having coffees outside when Frank, who works with the owners, pulled up in his car. He was there for the planned business of the day and had no idea about the bull. He sat down with us and we casually settled into the previous night's rhythm and made a crack about Yamba's broken dong. Frank paled, and he wanted details. We remembered Tarrango had complimented to us the tall, strong, loud-voiced Frank on his gentle way with livestock. Not that Frank was offended– he would make a few jokes later that day – it was that his first reaction was to consider the broken penis as a part of something that was living and hurting.

Calls to vets the day before had resulted in one knock back because they wouldn't work on Sundays. The vet who did come looked like a casting agent might want him to, with a kind face and trim grey hair. He found his own way to the cattle yard and Lady Tarrango led him and his trainee over to the crush.

Angus as a breed have stout necks and Yamba's is particularly so, its short enough that it just looks like more shoulder. There being no desire to cause the bull any unnecessary distress Yamba's head wasn't secured in the headbar of the cattle crush. The vet requested this securing and also requested that the kick gate be shut to further confine the bull. For ease of access, the split veterinary gate was opened at the top.

Such confident and invasive handling of a cock I have never before seen. It must've hurt like a motherfucker; the bull bellowed and shook against the crush. At one point, the vet pressed his thumb up into Yamba's urethra canted his head as if he was listening carefully, pulled his thumb back out, and in one elegant gesture ran his palm around the unseen side of the penis so as to cup and present Yamba's member to the group, then asked "Do you have any scissors?"

"It's not as bad as I've seen before," was the promising outset of the diagnosis. The vet couldn't say what caused the wound – later, Lord Tarango would speculate that perhaps there was a cow Yamba had tried to service through a fence – but after cleaning the cock he explained that its conditions called for antibiotics to deal with the infection and an anti-inflammatory to lessen the swelling.

Yamba would have to be taken out of action for a couple months, which was a fair disruption to the running of the farm and the Tarrango's angus breeding program, but, unless there was any significant worsening of the wound, he would breed again.

Drawing by Gareth Hipwell

The rest of the cattle had to be processed. Yamba was separated into his own section of the yard and watched as cows, some likely carrying his children, were led into the race and through the crush. Afterward, he was placed in with three juvenile bulls, the thinking being that the bulls were young enough they wouldn't dare harass the much larger Yamba and instead would provide some comforting company to the roughed-up bull, company that he wouldn't try to hump.

This was a mistake. The fledglings ganged up on Yamba. The smallest, Kraken (named for the spiced Jamaican rum), is apparently one of those young male animals that mount everything in sight. While the other two were trying in vain to establish dominance, Kraken used the opportunity to take a shot at fucking Yamba.

Kraken has a go

The older bull's cock may might too wounded to work but Kraken's is too undeveloped, so the sex was more aspirational than disturbing. Lord Tarrango broke up the fight; whip in hand, with assistance from Frank. I bravely took photos from behind an electric fence.

The task now is to keep Yamba's cock clean, regularly dose him with antibiotics, and photograph and send pictures to the vet of a hopefully recovering cock.

What are the prospects? Well, the vet made it seem like they were good, that we live in an age of effective penis-healing medicine. On the other hand, nothing is certain. Here some summer days are hotter than a human heart, it is fly season in a nation percolating with flies, and bulls don't make the best convalescents. Immediately after the younger bulls were removed Yamba was stamping up dust, raging at his removal from the harem of on-heat cows and heifers.

As the sun went down and a perfectly-timed ute kicked up dust on the road behind his paddock, I captured a picture of wounded-but-not-broke-dicked Yamba in repose.

We're going to take pictures of the bull for them, and otherwise get on with covering the festival. Frank's Brahman bull has just sired its first calf, he sent a text and is proud as a real father. For our hosts it's on to the next trouble. They have their lucerne in the paddock, mown but not yet bailed, and it's started to rain.

Words and photos by Girard Dorney. Follow him on Twitter: @girarddorney

Some names have been changed at the request of the subjects.