Here he comes, walking towards me, looking for a pat and a scratch. My gentle friend.
Before Boxer, a Charolais X Angus, our herd was completely Black Angus. His offspring are all sorts of creamy colours, from very pale lemon to bright orange. Lovely chunky, boxy, Boxer calves.
Something happened to Boxer. For a while he’d distanced himself from the herd of cows. And away from the other bulls, even Bill Whiskey whom he’d grown up with and from whom he’d been inseparable. They were both two years old when we bought them. I remember not long after they arrived, when I didn’t really know them, they were extremely curious about a new-born alpaca cria who’d been delivered prematurely. I had to be rescued after they had me bailed up against a tree with the babe in my arms. Scary at the time.
Next Boxer started to go round in circles. The vet thought he’d had a form of encephalitis. There was nothing we could do. He got worse and worse. He got stuck in the corners of paddocks. He was in danger of falling in difficult places. Of hurting himself, of breaking a leg. When I patted his head, it was all soft and puffy. A second vet confirmed he couldn’t go on as he was.
So on 11 April, a friend took him to the abattoir for us. Horrible day. It knocked us about. Sometimes I hate living here. Sometimes I hate this rural life.
This is my last photograph of Boxer. He’s eating some hay, just before we loaded him on to the trailer for the last time.
The next day we get an email with his dressed weight and price, $910. Horrible Day.