The Great Chestnut Chase

“If anyone is available to come help, the cows got out and we’re searching the woods for them.”

That’s the text message we received on a Saturday last January regarding our niece’s two 4-H steers.  I was tutoring, but my husband headed straight out there to join the search.  After finishing with tutoring, I headed out there to meet up with him and help search.

They live farther out in the country than us and in a heavily Amish populated area.  Unfortunately, that meant we were hiking through a large area of snowy woods and fields searching for these cows.

By the time I arrived Nutmeg, one of the two steers, had been caught and trailered home.  Chestnut, however, was still running the woods.

While hiking through the woods the first day, we found some large bones.  Our 6-year-old nephew was with us, and he loves going hunting for bones in the woods and was super excited by the unexpected find.  He managed to bring one of the leg bones home after we told him he couldn’t bring the skull home.  It was too heavy to carry for the mile or so back to the truck.

We took a break for lunch and then it was back out to the woods.  Other family members were driving the roads or walking other areas nearby.  My niece and I went through an Amish neighbor’s woods and pastures.  We saw the neighbor’s dairy cows in his pasture, but no Chestnut.  We searched until evening with no sightings of Chestnut, but plans to be out looking after church the next day.

Sure enough, the next day we were back out there in the same woods.  This time though we found an area where it looked like Chestnut had bedded down for the night and cow tracks!  After seeing nothing the day before that felt like exciting progress.

Feeling more confident of my surroundings, I searched parts of the woods on my own, wandering farther and farther from my husband and a friend.  Those woods were really quiet!

Eventually they caught sight of Chestnut!  Unfortunately, Chestnut had no interest in staying around and took off.  My husband told me Chestnut was heading my way, but I wasn’t seeing him and was pretty sure I was not where my husband thought I was.  I started to get frustrated with the situation and I was definitely a little cold.  I decided I would just head back to the truck.  Full of annoyance I started to hike back to the truck, occasionally stopping to look around just in case.  As I was looking around the very quiet woods I suddenly saw a pair of big, brown eyes staring at me.


I stayed very still and quiet while trying to text my husband where Chestnut was, but he still took off.  This time though, it was easy to see the tracks he left behind and we had a good, fresh trail to follow.

We spent much of the day following his tracks through the woods and fields.  Wow! That cow was good at maneuvering around the maple syrup tubes on the one farm!

Through the tubes, over some barbed wire, and past a deer farm he went…

We even had a helicopter up in the air searching for Chestnut by the third day!

We spent the weekend helping to locate and catch Chestnut with our family and many friends, but he was on an adventure (future storybook maybe?).  It took close to a week before he was finally caught and brought home.

Throughout the long hours in the cold and snow not only did we evade frostbite and make some fun memories, but also we saw so many people come together for a common goal.  None of us planned to spend the weekend hiking for hours through the cold snow, but we all jumped in when the need arose.  We came together to help someone important to us, and that is the most beautiful memory.