Oreo the lost cow makes a run for it, during the original chase through city streets before she escaped out of town in early October. Angie Mindus photo

COLUMNIST: Good neighbours

David Zirnhelt’s weekly column Ranch Musings


Special to the Tribune

I am starting this new year with good reasons to be optimistic. In the first week of January, I received a call that a lost cow had been found.

This cow (actually a yearling heifer) was taken to town to the Stampede Grounds to help students for the TRU Ranching program learn how to handle cattle.

Read More: Stockmanship workshop teaches TRU students livestock handling

The little herd of 15, got out through some open fence panels. All but one was rounded up right away, but the last one ran up to Western Avenue then back downtown via Second Avenue and across the bridge over to the Tolko log yard, the golf course and Westridge.

She was wild, not taking to being alone in town. I don’t blame her, but she did not want to be caught.

Read More: Holy Cow!

Unfortunately it was too late in the fall to buddy up with range cattle nearby, as they had mostly gone to their home ranch where they knew they would be fed for the winter.

True to their word, the Staffords, whose open range it is, said they would get her in and they did.

They made several calls to let us know where she had last been seen, what kind of shape she was in and to reinforce their commitment to bring her in.

They baited a range corral with hay and turned out an older companion cow to eventually mother up to her and quiet her down. She was skittish!

Then I got the call: she was safely in the home corrals near the Fraser River.

I was pleased to have the last of the cows come home.

When she was turned out with her home herd, she behaved as though she hadn’t really been anywhere at all; never mind being out on her own in a strange place for nearly three months.

I made a point of walking around her, calmly of course. She looked at me as if to say, “I’m home now.” The parable of the “lost sheep” comes to mind. We did want her back in the fold (herd).

She probably has good staying power in the herd, able to survive and thrive on open pasture and to take care of her offspring, as a good mother would.

Now this is the point of this story: without the help of a great neighbour, we might have lost this cow. We are grateful to the Stafford family.

When you live in a sparsely populated neighbourhood you come to value good neighbours. It helps to be a good neighbour. It only takes one bad one to make you realize how valuable good ones are.

We are blessed by being surrounded by great neighbours on all sides. Our differences just make us interesting!

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

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