A whole lot of bull
500 Words: Failure
“We’re going to grow our own meat,” we proudly announced to family and friends.
Whilst the sceptics amongst them nudged each other and laughed behind their hands, predicting mayhem and failure (again) for the Folk from the Big Smoke, we spoke to the farmer nearby and bought a neutered bull calf, or steer, for our small holding.
With lovely grassy paddocks to graze in and a cool, clear creek to drink from, we could already imagine our steer fattening up in no time. Our minds were racing ahead to the purchase of a bigger freezer, the need to locate a mobile butchery service and how we’d divvy up the steaks and mince to lucky family members.
Things didn’t seem to be going too well when, after a few months, our steer was still a scrawny runt and was failing to bulk up. He’d grown taller and his horns seemed longer and pointier, but as for his stacking on the weight and producing those sirloins we were dreaming about – it wasn’t happening.
Our steer had also started behaving strangely. Next door to us was a dairy, and each afternoon when the ‘girls’ were herded together to go into the milking sheds, our steer would go berserk.
He became highly agitated, bellowing and growling.
Then, with horns down, he pawed the ground violently, snorting. He raced around our house paddock, slowing down only to glare in the direction of the cows – a long way off – before starting the run all over again.
This bullish behaviour was getting so bad every afternoon that we had to keep the kids inside, or at least very close to the back door so that we could reach out and drag them in when our steer started his rampage.
After a couple of months of putting up with our steer from hell, an older neighbour dropped in. This lady was a farmer from way back and knew everything you needed to know about raising cattle and living on the land.”That steer hasn’t been done properly,” she announced. Apparently she’d been watching his antics for a few days while she was up at the milking sheds.
Turned out, that in order for our bull calf to be made into a steer, an instrument resembling an overgrown nut cracker of torture was used for…just that…cracking the spermatic cord of each testicle.
Apparently this method of castration has the highest failure rate due to tool operator error.
“Great!” we sighed, upset.
“Only gonna cause you more trouble,” she announced. “He won’t fatten up and he’s gonna start jumping the fences to get to the cows. Best to get rid of him.”
“Right…” we agreed, shocked.
Our beast was trucked off to the next cattle sale.
At least we got our money back. And the kids could play outside again in the afternoons.
Our dream of growing our own meat was dashed!
As has so often happened during our ‘Green Acres’ existence in the country, we had failed again!
Move over Eddie Albert And Eva Gabor!