Since the demise of my old bull I had become increasingly worried about the prospects of getting my cows in calf again. Assignations with Peter the AI man had been few and far between. His visits occurred almost invariably first thing in a morning and however good women are supposed to be at multi-tasking, wrestling with an uncooperative cow at breakfast time was never going to work.
So when it transpired that one of my young steers was actually still a bull I had thought that that was an end to all my problems. Alan's voice floated back to me down the months as he had performed the operation ... "I can only find one stone, there might be another in there so you better just keep an eye on things." And 'keep an eye on things' I tried to do but it's very difficult observing that part of the anatomy when it's covered by a tail. In the end I had forgotten about it and had only discovered the error when I put the steer in with a young heifer for company and - Hallelujah! - she was bulling and the 'steer' thought all of his birthdays had come at once.
So the bull was smiling and I was smiling and the bull had a wonderful summer. But then I noticed that despite his best efforts the cows still seemed to be coming bulling; they were not holding in calf and I began to doubt his fertility. Sometimes he was very enthusiastic, which was very encouraging, and hope blossomed. But at other times his ladies would be very enthusiastic about each other and he would just stand there chewing his cud. I presumed he had a headache.
I looked around for other solutions.
The idea of having a bull on loan, a bull who would do the job but who was someone else's responsibility when problems arose, was very appealing. But where to find one?
The other alternative, to buy a bull, filled me with misgivings. We are not set up for keeping a mature bull and even old Truffle, who had been of very amiable disposition, was large and strong and had objected violently to being restrained when the need arose. I didn't want to repeat that experience.
In the end, as so often happens, fate stepped in. A chance conversation revealed that, just as I happened to be needing a paragon of a bull, a neighbour had a paragon of a bull who just happened to be needing a home. Not only was the bull halter trained but, a massive plus, he stood there nonchalently chewing his cud while the vet stuck needles in him for the required TB test. And he wasn't just any bull, but a Longhorn - a traditional breed associated with excellent beef.
So I was sold and Nero has come to stay. But his ladies? - well, I think they're already in calf.
To the previous bull.