That single winter in Union Bridge we kept our steers, Larry, Moe & Curly in the stables.
Each of the steers had their own stable. Plenty of grain & fresh water served to them in a nice warm stable. We kept fresh straw on the floor and tried our best to clean out the stables daily.
Each of the stable gates was locked so that the younger kids could not get into the stables or let the steers out. Dad was serious when he told us to always make sure we locked the gates after feeding the steers. Apparently, one night one of us forgot this step.
We were sitting in the kitchen one night during a really good snow storm. In Maryland we used to have some really good snow storms. Back then I loved it.
That night we probably had just finished eating dinner when one of us looked out the kitchen window and saw what appeared to be tracks in the snow from the stables over to the pool. Now, the pool was full and it had iced over. The snow sitting on top of the ice could be real deceiving to anyone not familiar with a pool. At that hour of the night the tracks could only have come from one of the steers, who had no pool experience.
Dad went outside and ran over to the pool. There was a large hole in the ice, and floating in the hole was Larry. Larry was still moving around, but he had worn himself out thrashing around in the water. That winter Larry was not quite ready to go to slaughter, so he probably weighed about 400-500 pounds. Not enough to butcher, but far more than one guy could pull from the pool. Dad called out to us boys (Nelson, me and Fred) and got us to come outside and over to the pool.
With Dad’s help we got a hold of Larry’s legs and we pulled with all of our might, after what seemed like hours, we finally had Larry up on the side of the pool. I don’t remember exactly how we did it, but we probably used one of Dads small trailers to haul Larry back to the stables. I’m sure that Mom pitched in and we got Larry dried off and into a fresh bed of straw. Dad put a heat lamp over top of Larry to help warm him up.
While waiting for the Vet to come over and check out Larry, we noticed that the gate lock was missing. One of us boys had not locked it. We looked all over the stables and could not find it. Dad was upset with us for letting this happen. He laid into us pretty good. I’m not sure who made the mistake; it must have been Nelson or Fred. Couldn’t have been me. Dad made us look for the lock over and over. It was not to be found, yet.
I did not hear the medical report from the vet, but it must have been something like, “He’ll live if you keep him warm”, otherwise Larry would have been hauled off to the butcher.
We kept vigil over Larry that night and into the next few days. Slowly Larry regained his strength and stood up. Everyone was happy.
Larry continued to gain weight. Finally the day came for him to go to the butcher. I’m not sure how Dad figured it out, but he told the butcher to check Larry’s stomachs for the lock. Sure enough, when the butcher was all done and the meat was all packed up he handed Dad a shiny brass pad lock. Damn steer – ate it. Check out my story about the Best Hamburger ever. We got the final word in this story.