NEW GLOUCESTER — David Trafford spent the better part of three weeks looking for two of his wayward heifers. Turns out, they had simply blended in with the herd next door.
"We went over on Sunday with some grain, and they came right up to me — ate right out of my hand," Trafford said. "All the others got as far away from me as they could."
Trafford lost track of his 2-year-old Hereford heifers on Aug. 31. He suspects his kids left the gate open overnight. He awoke to find his lone male steer standing in his driveway and the two 400-pound females gone.
He looked all over New Gloucester for the two, and had mostly given up hope, assuming they'd been butchered and were in someone's freezer.
But friend Ed Emery had continued looking and he told Trafford he thought he'd spied one of the cows. Emery had bred the cows and sold them to Trafford, so he was familiar with both. One had special marking, a brown circle around one eye, and Emery thought he'd seen it in a pen about a mile away through the woods.
"So we went over there the next morning they came right up to me," Trafford said. Trafford said his neighbor was pretty sure the cows belonged to Trafford.
"He said, 'None of my cows would come that close to you,'" Trafford said. "So we put them in a pen and I got my truck and picked them up."
They blended in with the neighbor's herd perfectly, he said.
"He had 200 head or so, plus some Angus cows and a donkey," Trafford said. "I don't think he could have known that two cows had slipped into his herd."
Now that they're home, Trafford said he's making extra sure the gates are closed each night.
"And I told my wife, I think we're going to invest in some ear tags now," he said. "Anything, just so we can pick them out of a crowd."