Local News

Where’s the beef? Loose cow found

By Curt Peterson

All’s well that ends well-done, one might say in summing up the saga of an escaped bovine that roamed the Hartford-Hartland border for a few November days.

At first mislabeled a “bull,” the wandering cow’s gender was ultimately nailed down, and correctly categorized as “beef cow.” Webster Road resident Tucker Westenfeld told the Mountain Times she was raised for beef, and beef she ultimately became. The only way her destiny was affected by her misadventure was the timing of its realization.

Westenfeld, who said he helped with the animal’s recovery, reported the cow was a habitual misbehaver, and caused so much trouble and broke so many fences that “it went to beef earlier than originally planned.”

First publicly noted on the local listserv by Dolly Brandie-Lajoie Nov. 17 when the black and white bovine jay-walked across Northland Road in front of Brandie-Lajoie’s vehicle, the cow titillated Hartland residents for several days before being recaptured by its owner. Witnesses from Northland Road, Grout Road and Webster Road reported sightings, while listserv posters joyfully offered suggestions for capture and suggested clever names for the apparently healthy animal. Vermonters, always anxious to help in any crisis, envisioned baiting the cow with grain, locating her with drones, recruiting the Hartland animal control officer, or requesting aid from the Dept. of Agriculture secretary Ansen Tebbetts or Lucy MacKenzie Humane Society.

Despite some residents’ concern about the cold weather and imagined lack of fodder, animal control officer Jim Armbruster wrote, “… from all accounts and frequent reports[, she] seems to be in good health.”

Meanwhile, punsters couldn’t resist attaching a name to the undeserving and unwitting heroine, such as “Ferdinand,” “Holy Cow,” “Bullwinkle” (actually a moose), “Recalcitrant Ruminator,” and — a favorite — “Hugh Heifer” (after the notorious publisher of Playbull Magazine?).

Rob Anderegg wondered if capture might have been hindered by the animal’s “cow-moo-flage.”

Westenfeld joked that he would be happy to capture the cow if he could eat her himself. Another resident suggested using her for a tiki torch night barbecue.

Armbruster, amused by the fuss, said, “Cows and other livestock have gotten loose in town before so I don’t know why this particular case got so much attention.”

The listserv fun lasted only eight days, but the mirth provided as winter and the Covid spike progressed was very welcome. And some will enjoy really naturally-grazed beef steaks soon.

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