The first time I saw him was while I was driving on a lonely road to pick him up. His owner no longer wanted him. I was about a quarter of a mile away but could see a very small fenced-in pen, maybe 6 feet wide and 12 feet long with a small lean-to that barely sheltered him from bad weather He just stood in the middle of that pen.
Newton truly was a giant steer -- over 6' tall.
This was in Newton, a small town in northwest New Jersey. We drove onto the field, located on the side of a hill, where he and his pen seemed to be the only thing around. He came over to his gate, probably thinking we were there to feed him, and we did. But when we opened the gate he began to think, “Hey, feeding me isn’t the only reason these guys are here!”
Well, it took the two of us the better part of a half hour to get him out of that pen and into the trailer. He fought us all the way; that was Newton’s nature. He was tough, even as a calf. We had no idea what may have happened to him in his young life to bring that out in him, but Newton was Newton. He was stubborn, but a bit of a jokester, too.
Newton sedated and getting his hooves trimmed - it took a team.
As he grew, he became a little harder to handle. We would have to put some really good hay over the fence for him and as he ate, staff could go in and clean up his area. If the hay was good, then every once in a while he would look at his caretakers and charge about 2 steps, stop, and then go back to eating. He did that just to get their blood flowing a bit faster -- that was the jokester in him.
Newton getting a check-up from our vet. He truly lacked for nothing in the time he spent with Popcorn Park, including staff for his amusement.
Now on the other hand, if he didn’t get the real good hay, then he would either come running and chase us over the fence or out the gate and start moo’ing until he got some grain or better hay. There are hundreds of stories from staff on how they just made it out the gate or over the fence in time. Myself, I think Newton had a ball watching everyone scatter as he came running and then watched them jumping fences.
Newton was 13 years old, pretty old for a steer, and his legs and his body couldn’t support his weight much longer. We kept him comfortable with medication for the last couple of years but last week was a rough one, and we had to lay this giant of a steer to rest this past Sunday, January 15th (2017).
Good night, Newton.
- John Bergmann