Early livestock devices offered a farmer an ounce of protection – and Carl Friesch has quite the collection
Carl Friesch with a bull blinder invented in 1933.
Leslie C. McManus
When he sets up his display at a show, Carl Friesch can be pretty confident that it’ll be one of a kind.
“I collect the kind of things that nobody else brings,” says the Sullivan, Wis., man.
A display of hog oilers was the inspiration for Carl’s collection. “I saw a display of oilers about 25 years ago,” he recalls, “and I was just fascinated. I bought my first oiler about 10 years ago, and then it all started.” Now he hauls as many as 45 hog oilers to a show. “That’s 3,000 pounds, and that’s enough,” he admits. Enough hog oilers, maybe. He also collects other hog items: troughs, ringers, snouters, holders, ear notchers and hog feed bags. “I’m always looking for any hog-related item,” he says.
The bull blinder was used to defuse potentially volatile temperaments.
“When a bull’s head is down, that’s when he does damage,” Carl explains. “With a blinder on, the bull can only see when his head is upright. It was protection for the farmer, and it must have worked, because they kept making them up to the 1960s.”
With spring-activated grips applied to the animal’s nose, leaders performed the same function as a bull staff but at closer proximity.
“They’d use the leader to hold the animal’s head up when they were giving them shots, medication or notching ears,” Carl explains. “If a bull or cow didn’t have a ring in its nose, the farmer had to use something to control it.”
Bull staffs were designed in the early 1900s as a means of animal control. A 4-foot handle ended in a spring clasp that was used to hook the ring in a bull’s nose. The ring was the key: A bull could be rendered nearly docile with an experienced twist of a nose ring.