The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 5, 2001


Cow chase goes cross town

On Tuesday morning, September 18, while police cars with their flashing lights were following one calf up Bingham Road, another drama was unfolding far out in the field behind Guy Clark's house on Concord Street, where the heifer calf had been hobbled. As the story unfolds, the cast of characters multiplies. . .

Jack Valentine's story

The cows that Carlisle has been chuckling about are actually twin calves, a heifer and a bull calf, that Valentine had bought in New Hampshire and had been delivered to his barn on Acton Street the day before. Valentine did not know that the calves had not been weaned, or he would have known they would be looking for their mother and would have put them in a pen where they could be contained. But, since he did not know this, they were let out in his field.

Early Tuesday morning, Valentine got a call saying that his two calves were loose and headed down Heald Road. Across town, the police heard at seven that morning that there were "two cows in a back yard on Heald Road." By the time the first chasers, official and unofficial, got to Heald Road, the cows had left the scene, as the police would say.

Valentine then heard on his cell phone that the heifer was in the meadow behind Guy Clark's house. When he arrived there, he found George Foote, Alan Cameron and Bobby Morrill struggling with the calf, who did not want to be moved. There were a lot of ropes around and with great effort the four men got it to a tree and tied it up. Then, according to Valentine, "A guy in a horse trailer came who was really handy with a lasso because he enters roping contests." The guy with the lasso turned out to be Dave Toher. Other people, also unknown to Valentine, arrived and helped get the cow back onto the trailer.

Bobby Morrill's story

The police dispatcher called Deb Toher, Carlisle's Field Driver, to tell her the calves were out and that one of them was in Guy Clark's meadow. She and her husband Dave, an accomplished hand with a lasso, got into his pick-up and went out looking for the heifer in Clark's meadow. They found it there and, after hobbling it, left instructions with Bobby Morrill, who lives there, to watch it until Dave could get back with a trailer.

At the same time, and unaware of any of the above goings on, Alan Cameron of School Street and George Foote of Judy Farm Road, were knocking at the door of the Clark house looking for Bobby because they had an 8:30 appointment with him to work on his computer. They knocked and called and looked in the barn and were wondering where Bobby could be when they saw him, far out in the meadow, waving his arms above the tall meadow grass. Bobby told them of Dave Toher's instructions and, since he had promised he would keep an eye on the cow, he figured the best way to do that was to sit on it, and that is just what he did for about an hour. (Deb Toher later had high praise for his tenacity.) Because the grass was so high, Cameron and Foote were unaware that a calf was involved until they found that the arms that had been waving at them were perched on top of it. Valentine pulled up at this point in the story, and with much effort the four of them were able to tie the calf to a tree until Dave Toher returned with a horse trailer.

Deb Toher's story

While all of this was going on, Deb Toher set about in a police car with Officer Barnes, looking for the other escapee, the one last seen being followed by police cars on Bingham Road. When she got to Cross Street, she found a truck with a door open and the motor running and no one around, so she drove the truck to the police station and left the keys with the dispatcher. Unbeknownst to her, the truck belonged to Mike Baliestiero yet another professional roper. On this Tuesday morning, he had seen the runaway calf, grabbed his rope, jumped out of his truck, gave chase and, because this is what he knows how to do, roped the calf. However, once he had caught the animal, he was also committed to hang on to the animal, who dragged him through the woods from Cross Street to West Street. When they emerged on West Street, police and others who had joined the chase found them, and helped get the animal into the Toher's trailer and thence back to Valentine's barn.

Deb Toher said the police "gave it their all." She had praise for all those involved in the case, and said, "It's amazing how people come together" for such an emergency. At one point, before the bull calf at Clark's had been hobbled or tied to a tree, the heifer started running toward Concord Street and Officer Steven Mack ran after it and successfully diverted it from getting into the roadway. "I never knew Stevie Mack could run that fast," said Deb Toher.

Dot Clark heard of all the events that had occurred at her house while she was still in a nursing home recovering from a fall and thought that perhaps there had been an excess of effort exerted in catching the calves. "Anybody knows that all you have to do is rattle a few pebbles in a pail and calves will follow you anywhere because they think it's food."

2001 The Carlisle Mosquito