Masie Buck sat with her prize-winning steer and cried as she stroked his absurdly fluffy brown ears for the last time.
Mouse got his name because of those ears, and although at one point she’d sworn she’d be glad to see that stubborn steer go, when the time came she was glad she wasn’t the one who had to load him on the truck.
“It’s pretty heartbreaking,” the 17-year-old Masie said. “It didn’t hit me until just then that I wasn’t going to see him again.”
Mouse was named breed champion for All Other Breeds (AOB) at the Kendall County Junior Livestock Association show and sale on Saturday. Youth of all ages brought their animals to the barn on Thursday night, paraded them at the show on Friday and didn’t leave the sale until well past 10 p.m. Saturday night.
The poultry show took place last Sunday.
Masie got Mouse about a year ago from a breeder, and she worked over the summer to halter-break him while he was only a tiny 500 pounds, rather than the 1,500-pound beast he would become. After waking up to feed him every morning, coming home after school to give him lunch, and working to walk him and give him a good blow out now and then, Masie said she put in countless hours to make sure he was ready for the show.
In addition to working at the Hotel Faust in Comfort and her duties as a Comfort High School cheerleader, Masie said she always looked forward to her responsibilities with Mouse.
“Livestock has always been a big part of my life,” Masie said. “It’s always been kind of important to my family.”
Masie said her mom, Stacy, told her animals are like therapy. After her dad lost his parents in a vehicle crash in 2013, she said the family’s animals served as a great comfort. It was incredibly difficult to suddenly lose those grandparents who lived right next door.
“They were like my best friends,” Masie said. “Having all the animals in our barn, it was kind of a therapy thing, honestly.”
She and her family recently moved from Bexar to Kendall County, and she said it was pretty scary walking up to the auction block this year not really knowing anyone.
“I was shocked when Mouse won because there were so many fantastic steers,” Masie said. “I was really happy with how the whole weekend turned out.”
Masie’s sister, Katie, also said goodbye to her steer, Bambino, at the sale. Katie had been planning to show goats this year, but Bambino was a last-minute decision.
The young white calf was a twin, but its mother wasn’t ready for the responsibilities of raising two babies, so she tried to kill Bambino.
Katie took him in and found a surrogate cow to nurse him, but sadly his surrogate mother died. Because the young cow was twice orphaned, Katie looked for a strong name for her little fighter. She named him after one of the greatest famous orphans of all time, Babe Ruth.
Katie won reserve champion for showmanship with the great Bambino at her side.
Her little brother, Gunner, sat with Bambino and gently stroked his back Saturday afternoon as his sisters took Mouse to the auction block. It was his turn to say goodbye.
Masie said saying goodbye to the animals was not the only bittersweet part of this weekend. She also realized that next year will be her last year showing since she’ll be a high school senior. She will use the proceeds from this year’s sale to fund her final project, and whatever is left will go to fund her next adventure as a business major at Texas A&M University.
She again will head off to a new place, unsure of what lies ahead. But she will be able to take the lessons learned in the barn with her when she leaves — the lessons that stubborn, fluffy-eared steer named Mouse taught her.
“The animal is a living thing,” Masie said. “It’s something that loves only you. You feed it, take care of it. You’re like its mom. In Mouse’s eyes I’m perfect.”