A Strange Cow

Here’s another anecdote from News from the English Countryside 1750-1850, this time an agricultural oddity from 1770:

“Birkbeck Fell… A farmer’s wife in this neighbourhood, who attended duly to the milking of her cows morning and evening, observed for 2 or 3 mornings successively that her best cow was deficient in her usual quantities of milk; this made her suspect that some of her neighbours were not over honest and communicating her suspicion to her husband they resolved to watch all the succeeding night which they did without making any discovery till about sun-rising, when they observed the ow on which they had their eyes fixed all the night, move towards a bush at some distance, in the pasture, and there to make a stand. Following her thither they observed a most enormous over-grown adder, or hag-worm, crawl out of the root of the bush and winding up one of the cow’s hind legs, apply its mouth to one of the paps, and begin to suck which she suffered it patiently to suck till the farmer attacked it with a cudgel, and ere ti could recover its den kill it. It measured upwards of 4 feet in length and its skin, stuffed may be seen at the farmer’s house.

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