During a recent trip to France, our tour group went to Camargue in the Provence region and visited a “manade,” which is a Provencal ranch that raises white horses and bulls for the Bull Games. Unlike the bullfights of Spain, the bull doesn’t get killed.
Loaded in a large wooden wagon pulled by a tractor we, thirty-one tourists, were driven to the pasture where the female bulls—females who live on the manade are called bulls and not cows—grazed with their calves.
One of the ranchers seated on his white steed next to our parked wagon told us that the bulls remain outside all their lives: a natural existence. And there was no “invasive medical attention” even with the birth of the calves.
The bulls didn’t receive medical attention but they did have nurses. The rancher explained, in very good English, that some bulls had a mild temperament compared to the others and were selected to be the nurse-bull. The nurse-bull had a calming influence on the herd and helped the ranchers move the other bulls in the desired direction. This sounded more like a sheep dog.
The nurse-bull in this ranch had a light brown coat and a bell around her neck.
She appeared to me to circulate among the other lady bulls with an air of superiority. Or have I been reading too many animal books to my four-year-old grandson?
Then our rancher/lecturer said another role of the nurse-bull was to accompany an injured bull in a holding area while the injured bull waited to be “put down,” She, the nurse-bull, “eases the anxiety.”
Maybe the title “nurse-bull” does reflect her actions, after all. If compassionate, calming and soothing attention doesn’t describe a nurse, I don’t know what does.