“It was carnage. Blood and mess all over the road.” The farmer paused, sadness etched into his lined face, as he recalled the loss of seven of his fine milking cows. “It were a tragedy.”
I’m a country man myself and listened sympathetically. It was a raw November day and we were standing in the farmyard, our boots caked with mud. As a livestock auctioneer, I’d been instructed by an insurance company to investigate an incident at a farm a few months before to enable them to decide whether to pay out a substantial claim for compensation.
Valley Farm was situated in a hollow straddling a country road. The yard, barns and milking parlour were on one side of the road with most of the main pasture land on the other. The herd walked across the road morning and evening to and from the milking parlour.
“The driver of the lorry was unhurt. He was horrified but it weren’t his fault,” the farmer informed me. “I was there too. Oh dear me, sur, it was shockin’. A disaster.”
A large articulated lorry had been travelling along the road one morning and his brakes failed as he began to descend the steep hill. He could see the line of cows crossing the road and there was nothing he could do to avoid the ghastly accident. His heavy vehicle, out of control, smashed through the unsuspecting herd.
“As I understand,” I said, “There’s no problem about paying out the insurance claim for the seven cows, but I need to know why you are claiming for a valuable pedigree bull, which was unhurt in the incident.”
“He may have been unhurt but he was unmanned,” the farmer said moodily, shaking his head.
“Tell me about it.”
The farmer leaned against a metal gate and began. “The bull was a good ‘un and served well. On that dreadful day he was stood in the small pen over there, overlookin’ the road. He was watchin’ his ladies as they ambled across, one behind the other. The poor fella saw it all. He witnessed those gentle animals mown down. I tell ‘ee, sur, that the bull cried. I saw the tears in his eyes. He sobbed for days. It were terrible for him and he went right off his cake and feed. And ever since, he ain’t served another cow. He’s good for nothin’ now except the knacker’s yard.”
The farmer had made his case. Animals have feelings and I believed every word. It was an unusual story and, when I made my report, I quoted what the farmer had said and sent it to the insurance company.
I heard later that the tragic tale had been read out in the Claims Department. The bull’s tears melted their stony hearts and the claim was settled in full.