At 4.09pm on the 27th of July 2014 I met an Angus Wagu Steer with ear tag number 309.
He was part of a mob of young animals grazing the high pasture at Fenlands Station on the East Cape. The wind ran down from mount Hikurangi and chilled the open tops. It was a cold you remember. 309 stood with his winter coat backed up to the chill and stared me down.
I was on a reconnaissance to find the right farm and the right farmer for my book.
What I found was a beautiful farm, a caring thoughtful farmer and an animal that walked right up to me and dared me to follow him.
I returned to that farm every season throughout the rest of 309’s life. I watched the farm turn lush with clover and grass, and grass to chalky dust and sweet hay. 309 grew from a lean doe eyed calf into a 500kg titan – rippled with muscle and as silky and black as coal. On every visit 309 would move out of the crowd to find me – moving up to my camera staring that same stare he caught me with on that cold July day.