John Bohannon is a man with determination.
He obtained a four-year degree in agriculture business from College of the Ozarks in just two years, taking every summer class, winter intersession and extra course possible, and testing out of some classes.
“I had a good reason to hurry up and get back,” he said gesturing toward his wife of 38 years, Lori.
The couple live on the Morgan, Mo., farm John has called home since 1964. In 2016, a tough economy prompted the Bohannons to stop milking, but John wasn’t ready to stop raising cattle.
“We just took that check and bought beef cows,” John said.
They now have about 100 Angus cow/calf pairs, with plans to expand to about 150 pairs by the end of the year. They hold onto their dairy farm roots, however, and proudly display their Dairy Farmers of America sign at their driveway.
“Beef cattle just aren’t as polite as dairy cows,” John said with a laugh. “They’ve been hard on fences.”
While John is determined to continue his farming way of life, an accident on March 28, 2017 could have easily changed his life forever.
“It was a regular day. Me and my dad, Elvin, were going to work a small group of calves at his place,” John said. “We’d discussed pulling the bull in that field, but things usually didn’t work out, so we hadn’t worried about him. I had the stock trailer on and the bull was in the lane with two cows and came up to the barn. We easily separated him from the cows and he walked into the barn, no big deal; he loaded up easy. I didn’t want him walking back and forth in the trailer, so I slammed the divider gate and jumped in there to put the bottom pen in. …That’s really where I have to stop on the story because I really wasn’t there.”
Lori continued with the story, as it was told to her by Elvin.
“The bull turned on a dime and decided he didn’t want to be in there and popped that gate,” she said. “The gate hit John. He was thrown out the back of the trailer, quite some distance, and the bull went out, over John, then back into the trailer.”
The bull jumped over an unconscious John at least four times before finding an open gate.
“Never once did the bull step on him,” Lori said. “Every time the bull went past, he would put his head down like he was going to maul him, but then just jump over him. I can just picture angels lying across John.”
Elvin was helpless to pull John out of the way because the sides of the alley were built up so calves could not escape.
“I can vaguely remember laying there before the ambulance got there and I was asking Dad what day it was so that I would have the right answers,” John said.
It was initially thought John had a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain and paramedics were sure his brain would swell.
The Bohannons credit the power of prayer for John’s final diagnosis: a hairline skull fracture, a broken nose and a few stitches around his eyelid.
“Praise God,” Lori said. “By the time he got into the ambulance, there were people around the state and the world praying for him. He intended to come home that night, but I out voted him.”
John has no lingering health issues as a result of the accident.
“I’m actually better than what I was,” John said with a smile. “They said since I broke my nose, I would have problems with my sinuses; I breathe better now than I have in 40 years.”
Despite the accident, John never considered selling his cattle – or the bull.
“I’d never had any trouble out of that bull, haven’t since,” he said. “He’s a bull, but not an aggressive bull. We don’t keep and aggressive cattle.”
“I was thinking hamburger,” Lori said. “But they all out voted me.”
“We’re going to keep him at least two more cycles,” John said with a grin. “He’s at least got to get his check back. I penned him up, stressed him. I’ve loaded lots of cows, angry cows, in that trailer, but he was strong enough to bend the latch.”
After returning home from the hospital, John was told to take it easy for a few days, but life on the farm doesn’t always give producers a break. On the second day of his recovery, Lori left for 10 minutes. When she returned, she found John in the driveway with a trailer hitch.
“I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said ‘You can either fight with me or go help me; we’ve got cows out,’” Lori said. “We get up there and he takes one step into the yard and says, ‘Those aren’t our cows.’ I said, ‘Praise God.’ I kept telling him we could have called someone to get them and they would have been glad to haul them. He said if someone would have hauled those cows home, we’d all be in trouble for stealing cows.”
It was a struggle, but John did take it easy for a couple of days, but he was determined to get back to work.
“When we went back for his re-check, he asked the doctor when he could go back to work,” Lori said. “The doctor had no idea about farming and asked if he needed a note for work. I laughed and said he was his own boss, but he did have a couple of cranky caretakers. We got home and in less than five minutes, he had changed clothes and went out the door.”
John feels the indecent was a freak accident. They have always tried to be cautious around livestock and he thought he was that day, but the incident just shows how things can change in a split second.
“I probably shouldn’t have done that that day; but I’ve done it countless time,” John said. “People really need to be careful around livestock.”
John Bohannon is a man with determination.