Curtis Brothers has plenty of beef on his Carroll County cattle farm, but found himself with one bull too many when a one-ton black angus turned up grazing uninvited in his front yard - complete with a brass ring in its nose.
And it was ogling his heifers.
"He was a nice bull, pretty tame, but big for my world," said Brothers, who runs a beef cattle operation at Bro-Kor Valley Farm in Manchester. "He was more than I could handle."
Brothers estimated the docile bull was about five years old and more than 2,000 pounds. He reported the visiting animal - owner unknown - to the Carroll County Humane Society this month.
Animal control officers corralled and transported it to the society's shelter in Westminster and fenced it in a small pasture.
"We don't normally have to bring livestock back to our shelter, because we can usually locate the owner and get them home," said Carolyn "Nicky" Ratliff, Humane Society director. "I don't know what farmer out there would not miss a 2,000-pound bull. This animal surely would stand out from a pasture full of ladies."
Ratliff figured the bull's worth at about $1,000 and assumed someone would claim the animal.
But while her staff checked with area farmers and the county farm office and advertised in local papers, the bull escaped, Ratliff said.
"We had him in a chain-link fence, but he rooted down the bottom and worked his way free," she said. "We came in one morning and he was gone. This boy just won't stay put. He is so hard to keep fenced that I imagine he has done this before."
The bull apparently trekked down Littlestown Pike under cover of darkness to yet another farm, and mingled - or whatever - with a herd of heifers. That's where shelter workers found it, and suspect there could be progeny next year.
So it was back to the shelter, where the bull whiled away the hours behind a reinforced fence. A final attempt was made to find its owner. Workers went door to door in Brothers' neighborhood this week.
State law requires the shelter to keep an animal five days. It kept the bull more than three weeks, counting its time at the nearby farm.
When no owner comes forward, an animal becomes the property of the Humane Society. So the shelter, which cannot house livestock long-term, made the bull's last round-up a charity run, Ratliff said.
The roaming ended yesterday at Bullock's Country Meats in Westminster, where the runaway bull is being turned into as much as 1,400 pounds of lean ground beef for the county's neediest residents.
"He will make good hamburger and a lot of it," said Larry Mickley, a processor at the butcher shop.
Carroll County Food Sunday, a free distribution center, will offer clients frozen one-pound packages of beef.
"Any time we get a donation, we can help someone in need," said Holly Hutchins, deputy director of Carroll's Human Services Programs. "This donation will certainly benefit a lot of folks."
Ratliff called the outcome "good all the way around."
Brothers said families will get top-quality beef, but, "somebody has lost a great bull."