I can’t remember where or from whom Dad got him. I do remember that he was a magnificent animal.
A registered Hereford, he had papers a mile long and was, for a bull, very gentle.
Dad was very proud to have him reign over his herd of cattle.
He could go into the pasture and approach the bull, talking gently, and rub his neck. I called him Bruno, because he was so massive, weighing close to a ton, and he just looked, to me, like a Bruno.
Anyway, Dad pampered and petted Bruno and, really, I suppose he became a member of the family.
Then the storm came.
It was hot summer, in August, and by mid-afternoon the dark clouds were gathering and thunder began to rumble.
Although Dad had a nice, large stock barn, the cattle chose to seek shelter in a nearby woods in an effort to escape the lightning and high winds.
It was there that tragedy struck. After the storm passed, we went to check on the stock. Dad always had a fear of lightning striking his cattle and had been lucky, I suppose, to never have it happen.
As we walked to the woods, we saw some of the cattle come back to the pasture, but Bruno was nowhere in sight. We found him in a small clearing. He had been hit by a bolt of lightning from the middle of his back to his tail.
The smell of burnt hair was evident, but the most tragic thing was paralysis. He was paralyzed from his midsection through his hindquarters.
Bruno had managed to raise his front half to a standing position, but his back lay stretched out behind him, totally useless.
Dad knelt down and took off his old straw hat. Tears rolled down his weathered cheeks as he said, “Old fella, I’m a-gonna help ye. Don’t you worry none.”
I wanted to cry too.
And, he did his best to help Bruno. He carried food and water to him daily, hooked up a black and tackle to raise him to a standing position and poured oil on his legs to keep the flies away.
In the end, we lost. Despite everything, he became weaker and weaker.
Finally, Dad went to the glade early one morning with his gun and shot Bruno. I know it was difficult for him to do because he had tried so hard to make him well. He hooked a tractor to Bruno and dragged him to a back field, where he set the carcass on fire. He didn’t aim for anything else to get at his beloved Bruno.
He owned many other bulls over the years, but none ever meant as much to him as Bruno, the gentle giant.