Nero has never been a showstopper as far as looks go, but when it comes to temperament he must be very hard to beat.
Nose to nose he is extremely impressive. He has a beautiful head, mottled with the typical smudgey creams, browns and blacks of the Longhorn; large deep brown eyes and a magnificent pair of horns sweeping from his poll towards his nose. But the best thing about Nero is his smile. It is a permanent feature, an astonishing quirk of nature which gave him a wry face and a smile to match his temperament, and I think the world of him.
But beyond the head is a different story and he would certainly win no Mr Universe competitions, for Nero is built like a coat rack. He would be an ideal subject to demonstrate the bovine anatomy to anyone who was interested for his skin is stretched tightly over his enormous frame leaving little to the imagination. And not surprisingly because (and I refer to the subject delicately) if he was human he would be on a permanent dose of Immodium. Understand??
But I wasn't worried because Nero had always been thus. He had always waxed and waned with the seasons, putting weight on in the summer and losing it over the winter. There was a certain degree of anxiety, but my friends who had been his previous owners knew him better than anyone, and they had never had any cause for concern. And what he may have lacked in the six-packs he made up for in the bedroom department. Nero was very fertile.
So everything was hunky-dory and all the cows were in calf; Nero was doing his job. It seemed simply that a diet of rich grass and excellent silage was playing havoc with his digestive system, for a Longhorn is a hardy breed that will thrive even on poor forage, and Nero was having only the best.
But then Nero went off his food and I suddenly looked at him with new eyes. He was beginning to look emaciated. Spring was in the air and the cattle were bored with their diet and with the confines of their over wintering shed, but even so ...
The warning bells became very strident and the vet was called.
No cattle crush for Nero. He stood quietly on his halter throughout the procedure, submitting to the internal examination and the blood samples with dignity, although whether the vet was more surprised at his compliance, or Nero at the turn of events, I am not sure.
Samples collected, we then had to wait. Nero, however, having rather relieved the tedium of life indoors, regained both his zest for life and for food. The days we spent constantly worrying he spent constantly eating.
We got the results today, and my smile is even bigger then Nero's.
The good news .... the VERY good news, is that Nero has the all-clear.
So tonight I am toasting to his long life and good health, and to all that is present in the future.