Hamish the highland bull

This is Hamish the Highland Bull we met last fall. He lives in this field in a village called Callander in Killmahog, Scotland. Nearby is a 250-year-old mill with original water wheel. Because meals are served all day, lots of travel coaches loaded with visitors stop here; consequently Hamish is probably one of the most photographed bulls in the world . . . and that’s no bull! (Sorry, ‘couldn’t help myself!  🙂 ) If you’ve got euros burning a hole in your pocket, the Trossachs Wollenmill is adjacent. You can easily drop a few hundred euros in five minutes or less; it’s so easy to get carried away by all that wool.

For the Romantic among you, according to the United Kingdom Travel Blog, Hamish is supposed to have a wife named Heather and a daughter called Honey. You can read more here directly from the site if you’d like. I don’t remember seeing Heather or Honey myself but then I didn’t look for them. They may have been there. The only purpose of this photograph–besides the fact I love to take pictures of animals–is to have an excuse to show it to you and at the same time introduce you to a contemporary poet who inspires me with his simple and direct approach to writing poetry. Anyone who’s ever lived near cows–and probably those who haven’t as well–will appreciate the picture Billy paints here. I may get around to writing a poem myself some day.

by Billy Collins

There were a few dozen who occupied the field
across the road from where we lived,
stepping all day from tuft to tuft,
their big heads down in the soft grass,
though I would sometimes pass a window
and look out to see the field suddenly empty
as if they had taken wing, flown off to another country.

Then later, I would open the blue front door,
and again the field would be full of their munching
or they would be lying down
on the black-and-white maps of their sides,
facing in all directions, waiting for rain.
How mysterious, how patient and dumbfounded
they appear in the long quiet of the afternoon.

But every once in a while, one of them
would let out a sound so phenomenal
that I would put down the paper
or the knife I was cutting an apple with
and walk across the road to the stone wall
to see which one of them was being torched
or pierced through the side with a long spear.

Yes, it sounded like pain until I could see
the noisy one, anchored there on all fours,
her neck outstretched, her bellowing head
laboring upward as she gave voice
to the rising, full-bodied cry
that began in the darkness of her belly
and echoed up through her bowed ribs into her gaping mouth.

Then I knew that she was only announcing
the large, unadulterated cowness of herself,
pouring out the ancient apologia of her kind
to all the green fields and the gray clouds,
to the limestone hills and the inlet of the blue bay,
while she regarded my head and shoulders
above the wall with one wild, shocking eye.


19 thoughts on “Hamish the highland bull

  1. I always think those highland bulls look half the size of other breeds.

    Tiny quibble…. Scotland like all of the UK use £Sterling and not €uro.

    • MY BAD! I should have remembered that!..the one time I published without having Hubby look it over for trivial errors, too, since he’s away in class. (Where I should be too apparently?) Thanks for reminding me that we didn’t switch to Euro until we reached Ireland.

  2. Thank you for the introduction to Highland Bulls! Love the Billy Collins poem. He and Mary Oliver will be reading their poems here in April and I can’t wait to go hear them.

  3. I am currently listening to Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER – first of 12 in the series! (That in itself is impressive.) Anyway, this one is about everything Highland, and I am loving that. Hamish MacBeth is also one of my favorite fictional characters in M.C. Beaton’s mystery series that is set in the same wonderful area. Oh, how I want to go there, and your Hamish makes me desire it all the more.

    The poem is a great one, too. I know Mary Oliver but not Billy. Thank you for the kine, the poem, and the post.

    • My grandson is reading the OUTLANDER series, another of those books with appeal for all ages. One of them, however, (maybe the first one?) he had problems with because–did the mother die? He simply couldn’t take it–and skipped that part to eventually finish. I love what Ms. G said about writing it as a “practice” book! I feel I’ve practiced much of my life away and all I still write about is how much I like Hamish the bull. And I know Billy but not Mary Oliver. As for a trip to Scotland–a pleasure deferred is a pleasure doubled!

      • OUTLANDER is a historical romance – could also be titled THE TIME-TRAVELING WIFE. 😉 How old is your grandson? There’s a little spiciness in those pages, but not over the top – so far. I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. A fun read.

        • There’s more than ONE Outlander series!? Nope, must be the wrong one. The Outlanders I’m thinking of is the Science Fiction series–in the vein of Hunger Games–that type. Too many books to keep them all straight! 🙂

  4. Hello Aunty !

    In the India of 1960s and 1970s that I remember, local municipal body of a small town would have an official muncipal bullock (called Saand in Hindi). Its job was to supply the semen for artificial insemination of privately owned cows. Once the muncipal bullock got too old, they would set him free to roam the streets. In the small town of Kamptee where I grew up, the local government was too poor to maintain a bullock. So, a rich trader, called Ramnath offered to take care of the bullock during its productive life. After retirement from active service, Ramnath’s Saand would walk long distances and often stand in the middle of the road terrorising us kids returning from school.

    Cheers !

    • “Terrorizing the kids!” I never thought of all those wandering bulls (& cows) in India in that way, but I can see the problem. The thought pops up in my mind that “it takes a village” to take care of our children, but only one good bull to satisfy the cows! 😆 ( I was terrorized numerous times myself growing up on a farm and being expected to help herd the cows into the proper pasture. And I still like them!

  5. Was on one of motor coaches in 2003 and stopped to meet Hamish…and do some shopping. A wonderful memory!

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