During a recent trip to France, our tour group went to Camargue in the Provence region and visited a “manade,” signwhich 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.rancher on white horse

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.

nurse bull
nurse bull

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.

By Marianna Crane

After a long career in nursing--I was one of the first certified gerontological nurse practitioners--I am now a writer. My writings center around patients I have had over the years that continue to haunt my memory unless I record their stories. In addition, I write about growing older, confronting ageism, creativity and food. My memoir, "Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers" is available where ever books are sold.


  1. Marianna, what an artful rendition of a much needed universal role. Thank you for the beauty and accessibility of your prose/journey; you help us to not only see, but to feel.


  2. I love the story and have always wanted to go to the Camargue. Glad to know the tour there is so interesting. When I saw the title of the blog, I did laugh though…thinking is Nurse Bull another Nurse Ratchet! Far from her it seems! Thanks for enlightening me!


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