Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cattle rustling in Florida

I found it amazing when I visited Colorado that it is still an open range state. This means the cattle are turned loose to graze wherever they want. The range is open with no fences and as you are driving, they have the right of way. You don't want to hit a cow. Not only do you mess up your vehicle, you have a dead cow and a very angry rancher.
Today, as my son was driving us to my Mom's house in Lakeland, we passed something laying on the side of the road. It was on the back road going to Lakeland, right before you come into the small town of Mulberry. Jeremy asked me what that was laying on the side of the road, but he was driving so fast, I couldn't tell. He thought it was a bear. I said I doubted it, not right outside of Mulberry and we continued on.
On the way back, I was watching for it to see if I could tell what the poor creature was. I suspected a wild hog, which can be quite large. When we approached it, I found it was not a bear or a hog, but a dead heifer. This is not the norm. Had we been further outside of the city limits, I would have thought the calf might have gone through a fence since there are many farms out there, but there is no pasture that close to Mulberry.
The buzzards had not begun flocking around the dead animal, so I told Jeremy someone may have been out Saturday night rustling cattle.
He said, "Mom! Are you kidding me? This is not the wild west. This is Florida, 2008."
I responded, "So? You think they don't still have cattle rustling here?" How wrong he was.
Florida used to be a open range state. It isn't any more, but there are still range deputies who work for the sheriff's office who investigate rustling.
So, although it is still 2008, there are still cattle in Florida and still people who try to steal them. This may not be why that heifer was laying on the side of the road dead this morning, but it is something you may see if you wander the backroads. Even in Sarasota County.

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