John Leitner could have lost his life after being trampled and mauled by a bull, but he's more worried that he lost the watch he was given for his 50th birthday.
Mr Leitner, 80, of Upper Hutt, spent six weeks in hospital after being set upon by an angry half-tonne aberdeen angus-cross on his Masterton farm in June.
The attack left him with serious injuries to his head and chest, including a punctured lung, fractured sternum and six shattered ribs.
Twice he had to be revived by hospital staff after his heart stopped.
He has now resumed his weekly visits to his 27-hectare farm, and is determined to carry on working on the land he loves.
"Everything is getting slowly back to how it was," he said yesterday. "But there's two things I lost and haven't been able to find - my hat and my watch, which must be somewhere in all the mud.
"It was a 50th birthday present from my wife, so I would like to find it . . . but apart from that I've been very, very lucky."
Mr Leitner was hit from behind while loading nine bulls on to a truck bound for a Taranaki works on June 14.
Truckie Marcus Thompson and another farmer launched themselves at the enraged bull, punching and kicking it until they managed to get the beast into a paddock.
The bull then ran through three wire fences, charged two police cars and an ambulance, and rammed into Mr Leitner's car. It took four bullets to kill it.
Mr Leitner said he remembered having successfully loaded the first five bulls when one of the remaining animals "jumped".
"That's the last thing I saw. After that everything went black and I woke up in the hospital.
"The truck driver told me it pushed me up against [a metal gate] and then pushed my head into a concrete wall. Luckily he didn't have horns, or I would have been mincemeat."
Mr Leitner's wife, Wendy, said it was only when they met her husband's rescuers that they learned the true extent of the attack.
"We found out that the bull had actually jumped on him," she said.
"It was only after getting off him that it started knuckling him down into the ground with its head.
"That's when they started hitting it with bits of 4x2, and punching it and kicking it to get it off him."
Mrs Leitner was grateful to have her husband back and recovering well.
The bull attack was not the first time Mr Leitner, also known as Hans, had defied death.
While mountain climbing as a young man in his native Austria he fell 17 metres and fractured his skull and damaged his spine.
After moving to New Zealand he was knocked off a scaffold by a crane, grabbing a rope to land on his feet several metres below.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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