Last week we took my biggest bullock off the the abattoir. He is the boy on the right in the photo with the most enormous wide horns. He was the one that nicked my forehead last summer. And this guy did NOT want to cooperate.
We set up a temporary pen with big heavy cattle hurdles just outside the field gate where he was living with 6 other bullocks. He was the Boss Big Bullock. So when I offered him a bucket of cattle nuts in this pen he sauntered right in and helped himself, swinging all the others away from the food with his horns. Great, the plan was simple. Close him in the night before nice and securely, then load him up onto the cattle trailer early in the morning. The trailer was backed up into position with the land rover.
But Big Bullock was not stupid and every time I tried to trap him he was too quick. I gave up and went to bed. Very early the next morning I gave it another go. I coaxed him in with a big bucket of food, then slowly, slowly, slowly crept back to the gate. He was so greedy this time I got the bugger. Seriously happy. But Big Bullock was very unhappy once he realised he was caught.
Richard, my great helper and Ed, who was working for Richard, came up and loaded Big Bullock into the trailer. That went fairly well, but it did take some pushing and shoving from two strong men. I wish I had a chance to take photos but it was all too exciting and I did need to follow their instructions; hold the hurdle, shove the hurdle, slam the trailer door.
Once loaded we drove to the abattoir, then, upon arrival, backed the trailer up onto a gated unloading bay. Trailer doors open and Big Bullock slowly made his way out, carried on down the ramp a few feet and then changed his mind. Luckily we had closed another set of gates so he couldn’t get back. He was pretty angry and was swinging those horns. A few people were peering over the walls in horror, and the Spanish vet (abattoirs always have a gov’t vet on site and they are usually not English speaking) was opened mouthed with shock. I don’t think she had ever seen a highland bullock before so I told her he was usually sweet and docile. Hah! The bullock was actually addressing most of his fury at Richard and did manage to get a horn close enough to rip his coat in two places. After a few minutes Big Bullock did turn around like he was supposed to, and sauntered on into the building. He was definitely the most challenging delivery so far! I think he was just giving us two fingers before he accepted his fate. He lived a great life and he will become lovely suppers. And he left me such a filthy trailer, I spent an hour and a half cleaning it out!
Jo Stover has daily adventures on her small farm, together with her Highland cattle and Portland sheep, bees, a few hens, dogs, and some two-legged family and friends.