Are you missing a cow?

Brian Harry

Saturday night I was at my son’s lacrosse game with the family.  My wife got a phone call.  It was a fellow farmer and neighbor, Noah (about 2 miles south of us).  His question was “Are you missing a cow?”  The answer, of course, was we didn’t know.  Even if we had been home, counting ~100 cows turns out to be a lot harder than you’d think – the dang things just won’t stay still.  It turns out Noah had seen a stray black cow with no distinctive markings.

So I had to leave the lacrosse game to go home and see what was up.  By the time I got home it was dark.  I stopped by Noah’s house and learned that he had last seen the cow running down another neighbor’s (long) driveway.  I drove down the driveway but, let’s just say that looking for a black cow when it’s pitch dark is a less then productive exercise.  After a drive up and down the driveway, I gave up.

The next morning, my wife and I woke up at about 6:30 and my wife said to me “Something’s not right.  The cows are making too much noise.”  We’re expecting calves any day so she was thinking a cow was having problems.  So we both got dressed and went down to the lower barn where the cows are wintering.  Standing in front of the gate behind the hay barn was a strange cow – a young, all black, female cow (yes, I know that’s redundant Smile).

I could tell something was not right with this cow.  It had the wrong posture – head up high, very alert and poised to run.  These cows I call “crazy cows”.  Crazy cows are cows that are so afraid that they are hyper and irrational – jacked up on adrenaline.  In fact, they are incredibly dangerous.  We’ve had a couple of cows that have “gone crazy” and the smartest thing you can do is sell them fast.  We are fortunate to generally have a very calm herd that I can walk calmly among and get within a few feet before they ease away.  This cow was trouble.

I managed to go the long way around behind and clear the field of our cows.  I then opened the gate and we chased the cow into the pasture.  This is my goat pasture which is extra secure – posts every 12 ft, high tensile woven wire plus electrical.  Not much will get out of it.

Once we had the cow penned up, we started calling farmers in the area.  None of them were missing cows.

We noticed that the cow had a “slap tag” on its left shoulder. This is a round white sticker sometimes used as a temporary label for transport.

My best guess is someone bought her at auction with the idea of keeping her on some “extra grass”.  My guess is they didn’t realize they were getting a crazy cow and once they got it home, the cow panicked and jumped their fence.  I’ve seen a cow jump a 4 1/4 foot stall gate.

Ultimately we called the animal control officer and they are going to go door to door in the area anywhere they find a place nearby that looks like they might have a cow.  Here it is Monday night and we still don’t know whose it is.  It’s more than a $1,000 animal.  Someone has got to be wondering where their investment is.

Are you missing a cow?



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