When Cindy Philbrick got a call from Hampden’s public safety director on Tuesday about two loose calves outside her yard, she responded the only way she said made sense — she told him to herd the cows inside the fence and shut the gate behind them.
There the two 6-month-old Dexter calves stayed for most of the day, munching on the lawn’s grass and helping themselves to fallen apples from Philbrick’s trees.
“I got the call at work and [Hampden Director of Public Safety Chris Bailey] said he wanted to let me know there were cows in our yard,” Philbrick said. “I sent my husband out to help contain them and [the calves] just had fun eating grass all day long — I think they amused us more than we amused them.”
The pair of calves is the most recent instance of escaped livestock in Greater Bangor. In the spring a group of five Highland cattle escaped in Old Town during transport to their new home, and just last week four other Highland cattle from a different farm bolted from their pasture in Orland. But while those cattle evaded capture, these calves made it home later that day.
The Hampden calves’ adventure began early Tuesday morning when they somehow escaped from the farm next to the Philbricks’ home. By the time officers from the Hampden Police Department and a crew from the town’s public works department arrived on the Western Avenue scene, it did not take much to shepherd the animals into the Philbricks’ fenced-in lawn.
In fact, the calves enjoyed the space so much that it took between four and five hours to recapture the calves once their owners showed up.
“I am not surprised,” Bailey said. “Between the plush lawn and the beautiful apple trees, I imagine the cows did not want to leave.”
Bailey said corralling the animals would have been much harder had not Philbrick opened her land to them.
“This was the kind of situation where a neighbor graciously allowed the cows to stay and was really helpful and cooperative,” Bailey said. “It really bailed us out of a situation.”
Had the Phibricks’ large fenced-in yard not been available, Bailey said he and his officers would have been forced to find some sort of livestock trailer, truck and driver to contain them.
Philbrick, who grew up on a farm, said the entire experience of watching the cows and then helping corral them brought back some wonderful memories.
“I just wish I had my horse and a lasso,” she said. “That certainly would have been easier.”
Eventually the two cows were cornered so the owner could take them home.
“We have very gracious citizens in our community and they care about and look out for their neighbors,” Bailey said. “It did not surprise me a bit that the homeowner would be willing to take on two good sized animals for an unknown amount of time.”
For her part, Philbrick said she was happy to help and it was not the first time she’s wrangled wandering livestock.
“We had to climb one of our trees one time to get peacocks that had gotten loose from our neighbors,” she said. “You just never know what’s going to happen.”