YARMOUTH - The speed of the attack took Russell Goodwin by surprise.
© Submitted photo
Yarmouth's Russell Goodwin survived an attack by a 1,300-pound bull.
The 1,300-pound Brown Swiss bull that heâd raised from a few-days old calf, pawed the ground, lowered its head and charged at him from less than six-feet away.
âI donât remember hitting the ground,â said Goodwin, who lives on the Argyle Sound Road.
âI remember him coming right down on me and crunching me like I was a piece of wet sponge, just crunching me right into the ground with his forehead. I think thatâs what broke my ribs.â
Twenty minutes earlier on a day in mid-May, Goodwin and his wife Debbie noticed the bull wasnât in the field when they brought hay up to their milking cow and three steers.
They found him in a neighbouring field. Goodwin told his wife to go back to unplug the electric fence while he tried to drive the bull back to the meadow.
âHe was dancing around, right frisky,â said Goodwin, who said afterwards that some people had warned him that once young bulls start eating fresh grass in the spring, they get rambunctious.
âYou be careful,â theyâd warned him.
Alone with the bull, Goodwin yelled at him to move him along, as he had many times before
âHe was going, but not going away from me. He had his head towards me backing up. He stopped, put his head down and I went through the air and landed on my back. I think the first jolt on the ground knocked me out,â said Goodwin, who was likely pretty thankful at that point that he had burned the bullâs horns off as a calf, leaving two-inch humps.
He remembers struggling for breath, with the wind crushed right out of him. He recalls the bull pressing into him three more times before passing out cold for âquite awhile.â
He was disoriented and didnât know which way was up or down, or where his feet were.
When he regained consciousness he resigned himself to dying.
âI thought, this is it; I canât take it anymore. I was this close to giving up because there was nobody there and I saw no way out of it.â
Half conscious, it seemed as if he was looking through a three-inch pipe.
He could see a stone wall about 10-feet away. The sight gave him hope. If he could make it across the wall, heâd be safe.
But he couldnât move his legs. There was no feeling. He didnât know where they were.
At one point blood was dripping off his face onto some bushes. The bullâs nose was right beside him, smelling and smelling and then the jamming began again.
Wham! He says it didnât feel like he got hit, but, instantly, he was against the stone wall.
He recalled how often he used to scratch the bullâs chin and how heâd raise his head.
âHe was like a big pet,â said Goodwin.
With the bull pinning him against the wall, Goodwin began scratching him under his chin.
âHe wasnât mauling me then, he was just still, but he still had pressure on my lungs and I knew I was going to pass out any second.
âI said to myself, Iâm going to lower my hand and as soon as I do that I hope Iâm going across that stone wallâŠ but I want to be a little bit awake to go,â said Goodwin.
As soon as he lowered his hand he felt himself sailing across the stone wall, as if he was laying on his back on a flying carpet. He didnât even feel the bullâs attack that time.
He went between the top of the wall and a strand of electric fence three-feet above, landing on his feet on the other side. He made five steps and climbed into a tree, knowing heâd be safe if the bull decided to try and come over the wall.
While climbing the tree he tried four times unsuccessfully to reach up with his right hand.
âMy mind was saying grab that limb, but it wouldnât move,â he said.
Finally he lifted his right arm up with his left and his right hand was able to squeeze and grip the branch.
Russell remained in the tree for 10 or 15 minutes. The bull returned to the middle of the field and started eating grass again; eyeing his owner similar to the way a cat eyes a mouse. Goodwin was concerned the teasing hadnât ended. He headed for another tree 20-feet away.
âI got about halfway to that and he came burning across the field at me. I went as fast as I could to get behind the tree to stay behind it.â
The bull remained on the other side of the wall.
His wife arrived and Goodwin yelled for her to go home and tell their oldest son, Ryan, to bring a shotgun.
âI left without knowing he was injured,â said his wife.
Goodwin marvels now that he was able to climb the tree and get on his wheeler, kick it over and drive it back home down the hill to his house.
âIt must have been the adrenalin,â he said.
The first thing he did when he returned to the house was to call someone to sell the bull â it amounted to 660 pounds of dressed meat.
His son Ryan dropped the animal two days later with a three-inch slug.
Debbie drove her husband to the hospital.
âI felt pretty good until about halfway in. I started shaking âlike crazyâ and I couldnât breathe good,â he said.
Tests at the Yarmouth hospital showed there was no internal bleeding. Scans and x-rays showed a broken nose, ribs, and vertebrae. He also had two black eyes.
The next day he was transported to the QE ll in Halifax to determine the damage to his crushed shoulder and to undergo surgery.
The operation, which was originally expected to take two hours, stretched to six.
His rotator cuff was torn as well as muscles and ligaments.
More surgery will be required and extensive physiotherapy. It will take months for the shoulder to heal and Goodwin may not return to fishing this fall.
The experience was a sobering one for the couple.
ââIf you see any signs of aggression in a bull, donât hesitate: hamburg. This bull acted up a month before that,â said Debbie.
Donât get a bull,â she added, laughing.
âLife is short. You never know,â adds Russell.
âI learned my lesson.â