Neighborhood loses gentle giant

This was supposed to be a cute, feel-good holiday story about a giant hybrid steer, his "fortunate" weight problem, and a neighborhood that embraced him.

Earlier this month, however, the 1-ton Goliath died in the field he called home.

Sarah Myers, whose family inherited the steer when she and her husband, Dennis, moved into their Happy Valley home, said the neighborhood is in shock.

"The bad part is ... he didn't just get to lie down and go to sleep," she says.

On Dec. 9, neighbors found Goliath in a muddy section of his field he normally doesn't visit in the winter, Myers says. She theorized that a cougar, which had left some tracks in the neighborhood recently, might have steered the steer into unfamiliar territory.

"By the time one of the neighbors (saw him), they knew something was wrong," she says.

Neighbors who are veterinarians confirmed Goliath had hypothermia and was a long-shot to survive, and the neighborhood mascot was put down.

Bernie and Molly Christianson originally bought Goliath, offspring of a Brahma bull and Shorthorn cow, nearly two decades ago. Like many others of his kind, the steer wasn't to be long for this world; the

Christiansons bought him as food.

But he was simply too big to butcher, Myers says. Two local butchers came by but didn't have the equipment to hang the meat. At his biggest, Goliath tipped the scales at 2,500 pounds.

"When it was his turn to be butchered, he was too big," Myers said.

"It worked out well for Goliath."

Carrying Brahman bull features such as a distinctly large hump over the top of his shoulder and a loose flap of skin hanging from his neck, Goliath became a neighborhood fixture. A neighbor took ownership of the steer for several years until the Myerses moved in about 21/2 years ago, inheriting him.

I went out to the Myerses' property earlier this month to meet Goliath and see what the big fuss was about.

Big simply was not a long enough word to describe the sheer bulk of the animal staring at me. Myers just chuckled, asserting that Goliath wasn't the kind to get rankled and charge. Still, I used a long lens for pictures just in case.

Myers explained that she'd bought hay, grains and vitamins to keep him fed, cutting and transporting field grass from a friend's property off River Road to Goliath's expansive stomach.

Neighbors contributed to his upkeep, too, after one passed around a flyer.

Goliath had shed more than 500 pounds from his top weight but looked plenty healthy to me, taking the large carrots Sarah was handing him and snapping them like toothpicks.

Myers said they were considering throwing a big birthday party for the big guy. (In April, he would have turned 20.)

"Everybody loves Goliath; he's like the mascot of the neighborhood," she said at the time. "Most of them don't live that long. They get eaten."

Instead, Goliath passed away in the field he called home. Myers says folks needed a backhoe to move him.

Goliath lies buried on the property.

Reach Michael Dashiell at

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