strange harvest continued...

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strange harvest continued...

Postby cartoonsyndicate » Thu May 25, 2006 12:33 pm

Article Launched: 05/24/2006 01:00:00 AM MDT

views from the west | rich tosches
Theories on recent cattle mutilations sort of alien
By Rich Tosches
Denver Post Staff Writer


Sheri and Chuck Bowen stand near a windmill-powered watering hole on their family's 13,000-acre ranch near Eads. The ranch is on the site of the infamous Sand Creek Massacre. (Post / Rich Tosches)

Eads

The tales of mysterious livestock mutilations go way back on the Colorado flatlands, back at least to 1967 outside of Alamosa, where Snippy the horse died a strange death.

Snippy had been skinned in a bizarre way. The cuts were sharp and precise. There was no blood at the scene. Snippy's owner said when she touched the horse's flesh, it oozed green fluid that burned her skin.

There were, of course, reports of UFOs in the area that night.

Beam ahead, so to speak, to Monday. To the parched land near this tiny town just 40 miles from the Kansas border. Chuck Bowen, 54, a rancher and a photographer, gazes across the 13,000 acres his family has owned since the 1940s. He takes a step, and the dust around his boots swirls in the relentless wind.

Two of his cows have died freaky deaths. And then he hears the word "alien," and he smiles. It's hard, frankly, for down-to-earth Bowen to imagine why extraterrestrial beings would hover over his remote meadow, carefully snatch away the faces of two cows and then dart back into the twinkling stars.

"You would think," he said, "they'd have something more important to do."

And yet Bowen wonders what on earth could have killed his Angus cows and surgically removed the skin from the same side of both cows' faces, leaving the carcasses otherwise intact in the undisturbed grass of the sprawling ranch.

"The grass around their legs was still upright, still tall," he said. "When an animal dies it usually thrashes around and disturbs the ground. This was like the cows had been gently laid down in the grass. Like they'd been lowered."

Oh, and there's this little tidbit that jacks up the spooky meter another notch in Bowen's head: The ranch, originally owned by his grandfather, sits on the site of the infamous Nov. 29, 1864, Sand Creek Massacre, in which some 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians were killed by U.S. Army soldiers. Bowen and his wife, Sheri, have spent decades sifting through the dirt, uncovering about 3,000 artifacts of that horrible day. Everything from cannonball fragments to metal arrowheads to soldiers' uniform buttons.

In February and again in April, not far from that main battlefield and down by the towering cottonwood trees that stood even back then, Bowen found the dead cows.

"Both of them had the skin sliced off the left side of their faces in exactly the same pattern,"

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he said.

"The cut was a perfectly straight line," Sheri Bowen said. "You could tell it was done with a knife."

Ahead of a thunderstorm on Monday, the noon sun pushed the thermometer past 85 degrees and the foul odor of a cow carcass danced in the air. Lying on the ground amid a colony of prairie dogs was the body of one of the Bowens' cows. This one went down, as best Chuck can figure, about April 1. Its black hide was weathered, but the precise slicing of the skin around its jaw and snout was plain to see.

Kiowa County Sheriff Forest Frazee and deputies examined both carcasses. Frazee said a veterinarian told him an eagle might have sliced the skin from the cows' faces. And that the brittle winter grass around the bodies had not been stepped on.

"That grass breaks. It's easy to see a footprint. No one came anywhere near those cows," Frazee said. "So I don't really know what happened. I do know that I don't believe in the boogeyman."

The Bowens - seemingly about as regular and ordinary as people can be - live about 30 miles south, in Lamar. They run about 90 cows on the family land, and the two deaths have left them rattled.

"Coyotes wouldn't go anywhere near the carcasses for weeks and weeks," Sheri Bowen said. "They just left them alone. And Chuck's metal detector, the one we use to find artifacts, it gave a reading of foil over the entire body. Aluminum foil.

"I've heard all the stories, but I have a little trouble with the alien thing. Aliens killing our cattle just doesn't make any sense."

Chuck shakes his head.

"Both cows had the exact same patch of skin taken from the same side of their face," he said. "And to be honest, it's a little creepy."

Staff writer Rich Tosches writes each Wednesday and Sunday. He can be reached at rtosches@denverpost.com.
amidst the growing ripples and wiry bamboos, broken in youth like the teeth of a mutant.. Afterburn, ca 1978
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