A 1,600-pound cow named Mooly escaped from a small farm on Beagle Lane in Teaticket on Friday morning and made its way to the Grasmere neighborhood of Falmouth, across the street from Morse Pond School.
Mooly spent about an hour in the residential neighborhood off Jones Road, mooing every so often, avoiding the occasional sedan, and grazing on lawns.
Owner Wayne J. Stone followed after Mooly with a bucket of feed, but said the cow was acting strangely.
“I think what it is right now is that she’s found herself in unfamiliar territory,” he said. The farm is only about a quarter mile from the neighborhood, but the closely packed houses and cul-de-sacs in Grasmere may have disorientated her, he said.
“Normally when she does something like this it’s because she’s hungry,” he said. She had not eaten that morning and walked through a fence to escape. Mooly may have been spooked by the storm the night before, he said.
Falmouth Animal Control and Department of Natural Resources posted officers at both ends of the loop to keep Mooly from going out onto busy Jones Road or toward Teaticket Highway.
It was an unusual sight for residents of the neighborhood, who came out of their houses when Mooly made herself heard with an extraordinarily loud moo.
Titilola S. Shoyinka of Dove Cottage Road, one of the roads in the neighborhood, watched as Mooly crossed her lawn, and asked Mr. Stone, “How are you going to bring her back?”
“There are two ways,” he said. “Well, three ways. Walk it, shoot it, or tranquilize it.” On cue, Mooly bellowed her disapproval of the last two options.
“There are two ways [to bring her back],” he said. “Well, three ways. Walk it, shoot it, or tranquilize it.” On cue, Mooly bellowed her disapproval of the last two options.
Ms. Shoyinka said she has lived in the neighborhood for nine years but this was her first cow sighting. “I was shocked when I saw her,” she said. “I was just thinking, ‘How did she get here?’ Maybe she was on a little adventure.”
She never felt in danger, herself, in part because the cow was so well-groomed, she said. Her only regret was that her 10-year-old daughter and the other children in the neighborhood were not there. “I wish the kids were here to see this, because this would be more fun for them,” Ms. Shoyinka said.
Mooly continued down the center of the road, until a driver in a dark gray Toyota sedan came around the corner. The driver stopped in the middle of the road, while Mooly stood her ground. After a few seconds, the driver put the car in reverse and pulled around the cow.
Mooly Heads For Home
Finally, Mooly apparently sensed that home was near, took a right turn into a yard and passed through toward Beagle Lane. Mr. Stone followed with the bucket of feed and Mooly could be heard mooing in the distance.
The scene gave residents a story to tell, and a chance to use some one-liners. “Keep her away from the Stop & Shop; they got meat cutters,” a man driving by quipped.
The unusual sight of livestock in a residential neighborhood is an indication of how far Falmouth is from its agricultural roots, said Falmouth Agricultural Commission member Karen R. Schwalbe. “What’s unusual about it is that it’s now unusual,” she said.
At one time in Falmouth, dairy farms and other livestock were plentiful, but now they have all but disappeared, she said. People in Falmouth raise horses, llamas, alpacas, chickens, turkeys, and some pigs, but cattle are uncommon, she said.
Ms. Schwalbe grew up “raising cattle for the freezer,” which was common in those days, she said. “We’ve lost that part of that rural character,” she said.
Part of the reason is that raising cattle requires large amounts of land and it can be difficult, she said.
Ronald J. Smolowitz, owner of Coonamessett Farm, said there is a trend of farms in the area raising cattle for slaughter.
“Compared to five years ago, there are more and more,” he said. “There are dozens and dozens of farms producing meat,” within 100 miles of Falmouth, he said.
Producing local food is important to creating a sustainable community, Mr. Smolowitz said. In the event of a natural disaster, food supplies can quickly become depleted, as the people of New York and New Jersey recently experienced with Hurricane Sandy, he said.
Falmouth is a rich area for farming, he said. “We’ve got really good soils here, believe it or not, we’ve got plenty of water and we have a perfect climate,” he said.
Going forward, more public and conservation land should be used for farming and livestock, Mr. Smolowitz said.