What happens when a 2,000-pound steer falls in love?

Stories from the farm.
Dec. 11 2006 12:03 PM

The Bride of Frankensteer

My 2,000-pound steer falls in love.

(Continued from Page 1)

I called farmer Pete Hanks, who'd sold me Elvis, and asked if he could transport Luna in his livestock trailer. He and his brother Dean and Annie drove over to Nicki's to drop off the trailer and see whether Luna (a slip of a lass at 900 pounds) would agree to climb aboard. As it happened, when Nicki brought out a tub of grain, Luna hopped onto the trailer without two seconds' hesitation. Nicki said a tearful goodbye, and the entire entourage drove to my place (including Nicki, who wanted to say another farewell to Luna).

A delicious cultural collision ensued at my gate when the trailer backed in. Peter and Dean Hanks, dairymen descended from generations of other dairymen, stood watching incredulously in their Big Green Farms shirts. Moving cows was not previously an emotional experience for Dean and Peter. Annie and Nicki, animal lovers from another realm, stood by with grain to ensure that Luna was not pressured, molested, coerced, or distressed.

Advertisement

My wife, a committed New Yorker, watched and muttered about the odd turns life with her husband took. ("It's like being married to a runaway train," she grumbled bitterly.) And I stood, trying to recall precisely what I was thinking when I agreed to this expanding menagerie.

Then, I was suddenly reminded of one my favorite childhood movies, Bride of Frankenstein. Elvis' head came up as soon as he saw the trailer and heard Luna's moo. Hers was a guttural alto bray; his was deeper. He began to dance around. A friend like me! Maybe a girlfriend! The two animals started talking to each other right away.

Elvis' dancing around the pasture was a sobering sight, causing woodchucks to dive into holes, the sparrows to flee the barn, and all the humans to back up quickly. I went over and tapped him on the nose, saying, "Yo, dude, chill." He backed up a bit, and we swung the gate open. Luna, with no coercion of any sort, trotted down off the trailer into the pasture.

Elvis was beside himself with joy. He sniffed Luna, and then the two of them took off, frisking around the pasture. I'm not sure what a happy pair of cows ought to look like, exactly, but these two seemed quite pleased to meet. Elvis literally kicked up his heels. His manners improved. He was disarmingly sweet. When the good green hay—second cut—was brought out, he let Luna get the first chomp before shoulder-butting her halfway across the meadow. When it was time for grain, he stood at one end of the trough, she at the other until their heads and noses met in the middle.

From the first day, they were inseparable. Elvis towers over Luna, but now we never see one without the other close by. At night, they go off to sleep under an apple tree, Luna sometimes resting her head on Elvis' monstrous back. In the morning, I see the two of them at the top of the hill, taking in the view.

Luna is no pushover, though. Once, when Elvis started to get fresh—a truly daunting sight—she swung her smaller head around and brained him in the nose. He desisted.

Elvis still comes running when I show up in the pasture, especially since I started bring carrots, potatoes, or Snickers bars, all of which he is crazy about. But I am no longer the center of his universe, and he no longer stands waiting for me. There are no more lonely moos.

Jon Katz’s latest book, Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die, was published by Random House last October. You can visit him at www.bedlamfarm.com and http://www.facebook.com/BedlamFarm or email him at jon@bedlamfarm.com.