Our freezer is full. Wrapped in clear baggies with the twist ties on top, in matching 1.25 pound increments, rests our dear bull, Buck.
Ground beefed Buck.
The field has one less animal, and one less face to greet each morning. The field is quieter, without his horny calls, and more grass grows, in the spots he would have eaten.
In the field remain his biological son, his ladylove and his adopted step-son, and I wonder if they miss him, or how his void affects them.
When you live in the country, handy people live right next door, and so, this morning we walked Buck through the gate to our neighbour’s and he was shot and butchered. Buck was three years old, and had fathered two calves, and impregnated our cow for the coming year, too … and maybe some that we aren’t aware of when he hopped the fence umpteen times over the past few months.
Buck was a brat. Not nearly as mischievous as his son, but forceful and aggressive at times, as bulls are meant to be. For those reasons, he was our least favourite.
Every morning, one of us hauls our asses out of bed to do the chores. In the winter, when the grass is covered in snow, this means feeding hay. Covered in icicles and snot, he’d ram through the others to get to the feed first, and use his horns to hold them back until he was satisfied with his fill. That frigger, I’d think to myself.
In the fall, as the grass slows in production, he’d break through the fence like it were made of toothpicks, to reach what he thought to be greener grass on the other side. After what was sometimes an hour of chasing him back with a hockey stick in each hand, we’d get him back, and mend the hole.
In the summer, when we brought the horses back for boarding and experimented with having all the animals share the same pasture, he broke through our freshly reconstructed fencing within a couple of hours in protest, not to return for four days.
Stupid arsehole, I’d think.
Our kids knew to give Buck his space. Unlike the others who would simply move away when pestered by their presence, he would not only stand his ground, but lower his horns and move in closer, which always scared the piss out of us.
Buck kept our grass short, but our tempers shorter, as he’d always decide to break the rules on the days that were least convenient for us to deal with him.
But he loved his little family. Their bond and dynamic was remarkable to watch evolve over the past year that we had him. Cows are massively proprietal, loving and loyal to their family unit, and he was often the one licking his offspring behind the ears and nuzzling the nose of Kinloch, his much older love interest.
He would wrestle with his stepson, and lay with them in the field when they grew tired. When Kinloch had her baby this past July, he gave her privacy and space for a couple of hours, then moved in to be by her side and provide shade for her as she nursed her new babe in the scorching sun.
Buck was always destined to be meat. I will be happy to be able to provide my body, and my family’s bodies, with his. All the runs through the snow with my waddling pregnant body, and the hours of relentless horny callings will be worth it when I put together my first burger tonight.
But I’m also grateful to have stories for us to think about and reflect upon when eating him. Instead of grabbing a Styrofoam tray from the store, whose pink faceless meat holds an unknown history, I know the story behind mine.
And I’m glad my kid does, too. Wren understands that we gave Buck the best life we could offer him, full of excesses of food, space, women and children. When she comes home from school today, she’ll know that it’s him in there, just like she knew it was our chickens she helped to feed, that fed her last night for dinner.
There’s no hiding when it comes to the food chain around these parts. And it’s one of the things I’m most proud of.
Thanks for your service, old boy. There will never be another horny love song like yours, I am sure of that.