Wandering cow calves in Camden woods, helped home by police after long night

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 8:45pm

CAMDEN — Start Road farmer Ron Van Heeswijk was worried Monday evening. His heifer, heavy with baby in belly, had slipped off the pasture towards the woods. He put out the alert to Knox Regional Communications Center (911), where dispatchers, in turn, let Camden police and firefighters know that the pregnant cow had gone missing.

It was a long night and following day for Van Heeswijk, as he searched the woods in back of his farm, which extends toward Route 52, and in the distance, Beaucaire Ave. and Megunticook Lake. 

By Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 1, the heifer remained missing, and then Van Heeswijk himself got turned around in the woods. He called for help, and Camden police and firefighters stood ready to search for him.

But, affairs took a turn for the better, and Van Heeswijk reported that he had found the cow and her healthy calf. She had settled into a spot in a stand of trees, just above the homes that line Beaucaire Ave, and apparently had stomped her way capably through the birthing process the previous night, alone.

Her baby, a handsome all-black calf, was born healthy, alert and strong.

Folks living near the lake reported hearing her moo through the night, but just far enough in the distance not to sound alarming.

“We didn’t know what it was,” said one visitor to the area.

Camden Police Sgt. Dan Brown and Camden Police Chief Randy Gagne drove to Beaucaire Ave. around 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon and sounded the cruiser’s siren to help direct Van Heeswijk down a steep slope and to the road. 

Gagne and Brown eventually made voice contact with Van Heeswijk, and hiked up into the woods to help him. Because the hill was so steep, and the calf so new to the world, Gagne lifted the calf into his arms and carried him down to the road, just behind Linda Ely’s house.

The mother, however, refused to leave her shady birthing center, despite persistent urging by Van Heeswijk.

Meanwhile, the calf stood quietly in the cruiser, with Brown calming him with a gentle hand.  A bucket of grain was retrieved from the farm to entice the mother to the road, which worked, and within 20 minutes, the mother cow was moving purposely down through the woods.

A neighbor brought her a bucket of water, and the cow remained fairly content, as long as grain and grass were plentiful.

Van Heeswijk and Brown took the baby calf home, settled him into the barn near his father, The Bull, got the tractor and went back to lead the mother back around to Start Road.

Everyone was happy and relieved, and the calf did not relieve himself in the cruiser. He is a dignified fellow.

Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at lyndaclancy@penbaypilot.com; 207-706-6657