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It was after two when the bull rubbed a hole in his enclosure. I heard the rails fall away and knew that he was seconds from escape. Into the swirling snow I went, barelegged in wellies with the ice like a vest below my jacket. It was enough to set teeth on edge as I ran, and there he was, brawny as a stockpot and wedged in a gap, redhanded, the bastard.

The wind bawled and I recovered him with a length of plastic pipe, yelling “back, get back”. He humped and squirmed; a black shape, heavy as the world itself. Then he was round and I walked him out into the paddock where there are tall dykes and no chance to break them.

At that very moment, the wind seemed to slip below the fields by the marsh, pushing a thousand geese into the night. Rush and holler, and the shape of a clattering skein in the snowlight.

Even when I had returned to bed, the cold played around me for an hour.

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