Yes, that's a Hereford cow and calf bedded down in my raspberry patch.
It all started last November, at or near the full moon, on a below-zero night. There was a scattering of snow, or maybe just hoarfrost, reflecting the moonlight, so it was easy to see without artificial light. The dogs woke me from a sound sleep, going crazy at something outside my window. I got up, expecting to see some deer meandering through the yard. It was a beef cow. Or steer, or bull, it wasn't that light out. As far as I knew, nobody close to me had beef cows. Hmmm. I bundled up and went outside to see if I could lure it into my vacant front pasture with some hay, but she spooked and ran off into the night. I went back to bed, and the next morning wondered if I had dreamt the whole thing.
A few months later, February, to be exact, just after dark, the dogs started going crazy again. I stepped out onto my porch, to make sure nothing was going after my animals. They were fine. Then I heard it. Something very large crashing through the brush and trees on the south side of my place. It was too dark to see anything, but I could hear it. I wasn't about to venture off the porch to see what it was though. Just a few days before, there had been a news story about a MN man killed by his bull. Nope, not going out there.
The next morning, I strapped on the snowshoes and went out to look at the tracks left behind by my visitor in the dark.
A couple of months later, early April, dusk, again the dogs went crazy. I looked out and saw her, but now she had a little sidekick! They were grazing the little grass that had just started to grow. I called the sheriff's office, to see if anybody had reported a cow/calf pair missing. Nobody had, but they took my information in case anybody did. Then I started calling a couple of neighbors, to see if they knew anybody in the area that had beef cattle. One neighbor gave me the name of another neighbor, and so it went down the line. Nobody knew of anybody missing a cow. Finally I called my nearest neighbor, and there I got the scoop. The cow had been hanging out in the woods by his lake all winter. He fed it corn every once in a while, and had advertised in the paper, but nobody had claimed her. He warned me that they had tried to corral her once, and it went crazy and sent a couple of men flying. He said that it had given birth to the calf last month, in that stretch of bad storms.
The one that did this.
And then this.
We don't really have open range land here in Minnesota. It was kind of cool to have the "free range cow" come visiting. The neighbor's warning of how she had sent a couple of men flying had me worried though. I can't keep Mom in the house in the summer, she likes to walk. A lot. I really didn't want an overly protective cow hanging around. So the next morning, when a neighbor that I had never met before called, returning my message from the night before, and offered to give her a home if she needed it, I agreed.
We concocted a plan. They would bring over some hay, and corn silage, and we would start feeding and watering her to get her used to coming back. Then we would gradually move the feed into my front pasture, and see if she would go in there.
It worked. Just before sundown, she would come up from the woods by the lake, cautiously cross the field, and hang out in my yard, eating.
She bedded down in various places in the yard, the raspberry patch being her favorite. After sunrise, when she would hear activity in the house, or I would come out to do chores, (and take pictures of her),
she would head back over the rise to the woods, her little one by her side.
I'm starting to bore myself, so congrats if you're still awake and with me thus far. Next time, the capture, and why she is called the Blessed Bovine.