A Douglas County woman single-handedly rescued a 550-pound bull from a ravine Wednesday.
After discovering that one of his young bulls had become stuck in a 25-foot ravine, Tom Taul figured rescuing the animal would be a two-person job.
Instead, the Douglas County commissioner's wife turned the recovery into a one-woman show.
Using her wits, common sense and strength, Nancy Taul pulled the 550-pound animal out of the steep-walled ravine while her husband attended a commission meeting on Wednesday.
"I still can't believe she did it by herself," Tom Taul said Thursday. "If I'd had to do it by myself, I would have been a basket case."
Mrs. Taul said the calf had been missing for about 24 hours when she and her husband happened upon it about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The animal apparently had slipped while trying to cross the ravine on a rented pasture near the Tauls' farm. Mired in mud and having slid under a boulder, the animal could not move.
"Tom said, 'Nancy, I've got to get to this meeting. You're going to have to take care of this,'" Mrs. Taul said. "I'd never done something like this before. I'd never seen it done. I just kind of went by the seat of my pants."
While her husband was driving to Lawrence for the 6:35 p.m. meeting, Mrs. Taul got a tractor, a harness, some ropes and a chain and began rescuing the animal.
Climbing in and out of the ravine on rope, she harnessed the bull and connected the harness to the tractor with a rope. She pulled the animal from underneath the boulder, then tied his legs together and started pulling him out of the ravine -- feet first.
"I tried to take a lot of his weight off his neck and head," she said. "If you just pulled him out by the halter, it would be just like somebody putting a noose around your head and neck and pulling you up 25 feet."
As the animal reached the ravine's lip, Mrs. Taul got off the tractor and lugged the bull out of the hole.
"I didn't want any legs broken, and I didn't want to break his neck," said Mrs. Taul, who grew up on a farm and described herself as "stout."
The animal, which the Tauls say is worth about $2,000, was unharmed.
After carefully removing the bull's harness, Mrs. Taul returned to the family's farm a few miles west of Baldwin to finish the daily chores.
The extrication took about two hours and was finished by the time Tom Taul came home from his meeting.
"I'm proud of her," he said.