It all started back in January...
After coming home from Polyface Farm, I started walking the neighbor's fields again. Dreaming. Dreaming of where to put the cows, how many I could graze on a small bit, what I would need... I walked perimeters, and took note of small details.
Then I stepped in a fresh cow pie.
Huh??? A cow pie?? There hadn't been a cow on the neighbor's land in sixty years, why on earth was there bovine manure, and fresh manure at that, on fallow ground? I looked closer, and to my surprise there were fresh cow hoof prints pugging the damp ground. This didn't make sense. There were no fences up, the owners of the land hadn't been around for months, and I knew very well that the only creatures living on this land were deer and predators. Not cows.
I told family members of my findings, but at first only one or two believed me. Most of them snorted and said it was probably just deer or elk. Why is it that no one listens to me...? Shucks, I've been around enough cows and elk to know the difference between the two when it comes to tracks and scat! You don't get cow pies from elk! Disgruntled that I was being scoffed at, but too stubborn to drop the subject, I started going up more frequently and searching for more clues. Why on earth was there a cow up here?
More tracks and more pies were found, but I couldn't for the life of me actually find any traces of a real cow. No positive proof that I wasn't tracking a senile elk that was hanging around civilization.
Today was the turning point. Two young siblings came busting in the house, their voices raised in excitement saying, "There's a cow in the 98 acres! There's a cow in the 98 acres!"
I swelled with pride in the fleeting moment of glory. Of course there's a cow in the 98 acres! I've been tracking it for months now!! I had a very strong desire to loudly say "I told you so" to all in hearing distance. I know the difference between an elk track and a cow track, thankee' very much!!
My Carhartt coat was donned, and off I went. Determined to track this cow down myself and figure this puzzle out. Feeling like Aragorn tracking down Hobbits, I followed a zig zag trail through brambles and teasel plants. Although, I really can't take much glory for my tracking ability... Tracking that cow is about as hard as tracking down a whale in a fish bowl. This cow ain't no dainty lady. I followed a long trail before finally admitting defeat. She had gone into the woods, where her hoof prints became lost in the spongy forest floor. Grr. But I wasn't too disappointed. I may have not gotten the cow (yet!), but I had a story.
She looks to be a younger cow. Somewhere between 2 and 4 years old, judging by the size of the hoof, and the depth of the tracks. She has a specific pattern in which she travels, first through the forest, then to the marsh, then over to the front pasture, and back to the bramble thicket by noon... I think she has a calf with her, guessing from the small tracks near hers, but that's still a theory. She's a short bodied gal; either that or she just has short legs. But she can move fast, and she's incredibly agile.
The part that is really boggling my mind though, is that she came to my barn last night. Her tracks are littered around the front door and over near Bob's pen. How on earth did that cow get over to my barn??? Explanation: There is a large, red livestock gate, and many strands of barbed wire blocking the entrance to the 98 acres. However, there are cow tracks starting at the gate (as if the cow jumped, but the tracks didn't show enough impact for a jump) and then clearly walking across the road and over to my barn.
My best guess is that the cow levitated.
Either that, or the cow is a phantom and it not only just walks right through the gate, but its hanging around just to discombobulate me!! Sounds like a good story plot to me: The Phantom Cow" Oh yeah, I can just see it now as a bestseller. ;)
But I'm not giving up. I'm too stubborn for that. There IS a cow over there, and it's not supposed to be! I'll get to the bottom of this!
I do like the thought of levitating cows though... Makes me smile. :)